BYGONE DAYS: Hotel sold out ahead of ploughing competition

One Portstewart hotel was already fully booked in connection with an event which was expected to bring visitors from 20 countries to Ulster and to attract more than 60,000 spectators – in October, 1959, reported the News Letter during this week in 1956.

Saturday, 24th July 2021, 10:00 am
Pictured is Harry Ferguson and Henry Ford with an early Massey Ferguson tractor. The Ulster Folk Museum and Ulster Transport Museum will celebrate Ferguson Tractor Day this weekend, offering visitors an insight into the legacy of agricultural innovator, Harry Ferguson, and marking 75 years of the ‘Wee Grey Fergie’. Taking place in collaboration with the Ferguson Heritage Tractor Society, activities will kick off today (Saturday 24th July), from 10.00am to 5.00pm.  Tickets for Ferguson Tractor Day should be booked online in advance. To book time slots and for further details visit www.nmni.com. Picture: Courtesy of National Museums Northern Ireland
Pictured is Harry Ferguson and Henry Ford with an early Massey Ferguson tractor. The Ulster Folk Museum and Ulster Transport Museum will celebrate Ferguson Tractor Day this weekend, offering visitors an insight into the legacy of agricultural innovator, Harry Ferguson, and marking 75 years of the ‘Wee Grey Fergie’. Taking place in collaboration with the Ferguson Heritage Tractor Society, activities will kick off today (Saturday 24th July), from 10.00am to 5.00pm. Tickets for Ferguson Tractor Day should be booked online in advance. To book time slots and for further details visit www.nmni.com. Picture: Courtesy of National Museums Northern Ireland

It had been announced in the News Letter during this week in July 1956 that the first world ploughing championship ever to be held in the province had been booked for 1959. For the previous two days organisers had been busy in Belfast completing preliminary arrangements for the contest, which would be held on the 200 acre farm of James and William Kennedy, The Cranagh, Ballysally, on the banks of the Bann between Coleraine and Portstewart.

The Government, the Tourist Board, the Northern Ireland Ploughing Association, and travel agencies were all co-operating with the promoters, the World Ploughing Organisation, and it was expected that more than £10,000 would be spent on the event by the Esso Petroleum Company, which was providing travel and accommodation for the ploughing teams from 20 countries which were to compete.

TOURIST ATTRACTION

At a press conference in Belfast, Mr Robert Frizzell, secretary of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, said that the event was of “tremendous importance” to the Ulster tourist industry. He said that it would be given a worldwide publicity by the British Travel Association as well as the NITB, and would have the effect of “lengthening Ulster’s normal tourist season”.

“There is little doubt that hotels and boarding houses in the area will be fully booked for the three days of ploughing,” he said, and added that many of the people who came from overseas for the event would probably have extended holidays in the province to visit the country’s agricultural training, experimental and research stations and farms. He said that the board already had a pamphlet prepared to help such visitors.

Mr Frizzell continued that the area chosen for the championship was “ideal for Ulster’s tourist industry” as it was well equipped to deal with tourists. The fact that the event was arranged so well in advance was also “of great value” as it would allow tourist caterers to plan ahead and be fully prepared.

SOVIET RUSSIA COULD COMPETE

Mr Alfred Hall, secretary of the World Ploughing Organisation, said that there would be competitors from 20 countries including Finland, Sweden, Norway. Denmark, I Holland, Belgium, West Germany, France, Great Britain, Canada, Pakistan, New Zealand, Italy and Australia. It was also probable that by 1959 Soviet Russia would be competing.

He said: “Already Russia has had observers at several world championships and at present it is building up ploughing organisation with a view to competing.”

Mr Hall estimated on the evidence of past attendances at world championships that about 20,000 spectators would attend on each of the three days. The first day would be devoted to the Northern Ireland international event similar to that held in the province for the past 12 years and the final two days to the deciding of the world championships.

DEMONSTRATIONS TO BE HELD

Speaking of the influx of visitors to he expected, Mr Hall said that many world airlines were already asking for particulars for the preparation of special services.

He said: “This year special ‘Golden Plough Tours’ were being organised to fly parties of farmers from Canada to the championship being held at Oxford in October.”

Mr Hall said that in addition to the competitive ploughing there would be special demonstrations given by works teams from tractor and agricultural machinery makers over hundreds of acres on adjoining farms and also a large exhibition of static farm equipment.

The press conference during this week in July 1956 was attended by Mr T C Reid, chairman of the Northern Ireland Ploughing Association, its secretary, Mr J B Somerville and representatives of the Esso Company from London and Belfast. It was also mentioned that the present world champion ploughman, Hugh Barr, of Aghadowey, would be flying to Sweden the following week to give a demonstration at the request of local interests.