Suffolk and Essex ploughmen and women vie to plough straightest furrow at British National Ploughing Championships

British National Ploughing Championships & Country Festival was last held at Bishops Lydeard, near T

British National Ploughing Championships & Country Festival was last held at Bishops Lydeard, near Taunton, in 2011. Picture: SOCIETY OF PLOUGHMEN. - Credit: Society of Ploughmen

Four competitors from Suffolk and Essex will be attempting to plough the straightest furrow at a national championship event to be held in Somerset in October.

A “tremendous” entry of more than 260 local champions from across Britain will be taking part in various classes over two days as ploughmen and women battle it out at this year’s British National Ploughing Championships & Country Festival at Bishops Lydeard, near Taunton.

The event, on October 14 and 15, includes 22-year-old Billy Purkiss of Hockley in Essex, who will be competing in the reversible class; Ernest Doe employee Paul Wylie from Tolleshunt D’Arcy, near Maldon, who will be battling it out in the Vintage Trailing; Michael Moore from Asheldham, Southminster, who will be vying for top spot in the Vintage Hydraulic Championship; and Steve Arbon from Boxford, near Sudbury, who will be competing in the Ferguson Championship.

Classes include world style conventional and reversible ploughing, vintage trailing, hydraulic and classic ploughing, classes for Ferguson tractors, David Browns, Ford and Fordson, horticultural machinery, and stylish high cut ploughing. The event also features 19 pairs of magnificent heavy horses.

The event is the highlight of the ploughing calendar and competitors travel from far and wide to compete, with the furthest travelling around 500 miles from Perthshire in Scotland.

In its 67 year history, the championships have only been held in Somerset on five previous occasions. They have been held at Nynehead, near Wellington three times, in 1954, 1971 and 1995; at Halse near Taunton in 1963 and more recently at Bishops Lydeard, near Taunton in 2011.

The event is organised by the Society of Ploughmen charity, which is expecting an exceptional crowd over the two days as it also gives families a unique insight into how our farming heritage has changed over the past 300 years.

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Society chairman John Hill said: “We are so pleased to be coming back to Somerset this year as the welcome we had when we were here in 2011 was second to none. Our hosts, those taking part, our visitors, our volunteers, everyone was so friendly that it added to a really great atmosphere and I’m looking forward to this once again. I obviously love ploughing myself, but you don’t have to as anyone can come along.”