Essex ploughmen set to put skills to test as contest celebrates 100th year

Ongar Ploughing Match Picture: RALPH METSON

Ongar Ploughing Match Picture: RALPH METSON - Credit: Archant

Around 100 ploughmen are expected to take part in an Essex ploughing competition this year, as it celebrates its 100th year.

Katie Boardman taking part in Ongar Ploughing Match at Ongar Picture: HELEN MCTURK

Katie Boardman taking part in Ongar Ploughing Match at Ongar Picture: HELEN MCTURK - Credit: Archant

The Ongar Ploughing Match will take place at High Laver Hall, near Moreton, on Saturday, September 15, from 9.30am. Entry is free.

It’s one of three contests to take place across the county each year, with Ongar, Greenstead Green and Rochford holding the county match in rotation. This year’s county final is due to take place at Greenstead Green, near Halstead, on Saturday, September 29.

Former Ongar Ploughing Match chairman Ralph Metson said those who had never seen a ploughing match before were “missing a treat”.

“This one will be extra special. Quite a spectacle to see, and in keeping with our centenary, we expect around 100 ploughmen to be demonstrating their considerable skills,” he said.

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Tractors will range from those built in the 1910s to this year, with ancient ploughs and more modern leviathans battling it out. “We also plan to have teams of horses representing the first decade, looking much as they would have done in 1901. This we think was the first known Ongar match and apart from missing a few years during the wars, or because of exceptionally wet conditions, it has occurred annually ever since. There will be one particular class where at least one tractor from each of the 10 decades will be ploughing.”

Ralph advises getting there early as these are when some of the most skilfil elements are on display.

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“It will all be highly entertaining whatever time you arrive and will not wrap up until around 1pm. All those tractors mean it will be a big site, but if walking round seems rather daunting there will be a free courtesy tractor and trailer ride kindly supplied by Ernest Doe and Sons and on which there will be a running commentary by a couple of knowledgeable and very entertaining straw chewers who will explain everything that is going on.”

Suffolk Vintage Ploughing Society will also be holding its event on Sunday, September 9, at Neville House Farm, Ingham, Bury St Edmunds. Greenstead Green & District Agricultural Club will be hosting its own competition in conjunction with the Essex County Ploughing Match at CO9 2SL. Details of all the matches can be found on the Society of Ploughmen website.

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