The Power Major



Travelling through Wales yesterday I kept catching traces of the 1950s darting from behind hedgerows, as if Patrick McGoohan was The Prisoner all over again in that black roll-neck jumper.

If you’ve ever taken the scenic route through the Isles of Wight or Ireland, village petrol pumps and garage doors stand rotting in the drizzle, slowly collapsing under the weight of time and progress.

In dreariest Pembrokeshire, hidden relics from the age of rust proved elusive as I raced towards my destinations. But at one road junction near Cardigan, another old fuel dispenser caught my eye. Two disintegrating pumps stood like the sentries to the age of two-stroke like a Robert Frank picture and I photographed them dreaming of my early years of happy motoring.

In the undergrowth I saw the Fordson Power Major (1958-1961), a unit that my father nurtured along the tractor assembly lines at Dagenham then helped promote its successors in the rural agricultural shows of the 60s. In one year, his designer had built for him a giant hand with a Fordson balancing on the vertically pointing index finger. Much like rodeo riders as they travelled along frontier towns, farmers’ tool reps followed the show circuit during the summer months and I remember the pictures he proudly showed of his creations during family slide evenings. If it wasn’t me as a baby at the wheel of our Ford Anglia, it was his latest crop of dahlias – or the rotating tractor.

Seeing the forgotten relics of machinery brings out the sentimentalist in me. As workhorses, the Fordson Major, their rival Massey Ferguson or a Shire helped feed us all by bringing in the harvests. I imagine the thousands of loyal miles they ploughed for affectionate farmers and their sons and of the crops that a grateful nation consumed in the years after great wars.

Seeing a once-great implement like this diminutive but honest beast seemed unjust to the point of cruelty.


10 Responses to “The Power Major”

  1. I knew by reading your blog there would be something coming up that would upset me and this time you managed…you see I am a Massey Ferguson man myself, taking me back to Hällevik the farm I used to work on a child and they had a MF25…my pride and joy…this is where the manufacturing of excellence comes into play even thought the Lamborghini was the hot thing to have in the tractor world…Ford…an utterly useless piece of junk…

  2. Dear Swedish Farmer, I cannot tolerate this form of blasphemy. As a Ford family, the Massey was seen as the enemy – a bit like having coalition infidels picking fruit on your farm. Masseys were ugly machines, red and grey, with the aura of the bully while the Fordson was the family pet, the moggie on the matt.

  3. Red and grey represented the time when John Major was in government and labour in opposition…Ford was always blue and white…ugly clunky and not very hip…

  4. So what tractor is Gordon Brown – New Holland?

  5. I am sorry to read about the ford and its limp existence you need to Move on… There was a survey conducted last week by Business Week about the worst vehicles in HISTORY and whilst I am happy to say that our tractor was not on it, Ford graced the list with two cars. Namely the Ford Pinto and the Ford Edsel…If you are still so in love with Ford you should know what hey said about them…

    Ford Pinto: “If you were hit from behind the tank would explode”. “It wasrubbish from the first day it was built”. “Do you ever see one in a car collection exhibition?” ”Weak, cheap and rust…by the way, didn’t they use to explode?” were comment from previous owners…

    Ford Edsel: “It has to be the ugliest vehicle ever to leave Detroit?” “Talk about the wrong car at the wrong place.” “A three ton petrol thirsty animal”…

    Now I challenge you to find similarities about Massey…

  6. I am bored with coming back to this picture…I need something new…

  7. I want you to see something else and photograph it…as I would like to read another entry…

  8. 9 Bayden Rank

    Sob – Not a mention of the Little Fergie that Ford pinched his ideas from.

  9. 10 jokki

    Didn’t Henry Ford actually invent the tractor? I’m not big non Fords, but give the man some credit . . .

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