The inaugural meeting of the Natal Vintage Tractor Club was held on 8 February 1992 with a nucleus of approximately forty members from the National Club which started in Natal in 1988.
The inaugural meeting of the Natal Vintage Tractor Club was held on 8 February 1992 with a nucleus of approximately forty members from the National Club which started in Natal in 1988. This was one of the first branches formed and our numbers have steadily increased to more than a hundred and twenty today, with our membership drawn from a wide spectrum. Starting with tractors only, the numbers of engines being collected increased rapidly and in 1997 it was decided that a better name would be "The Natal Vintage Tractor & Engine Club". As members collections diversified and began to include all types of vintage farming equipment used in the past, it was decided that a further change to a more descriptive name, "The Natal Vintage Tractor and Machinery Club", be made in 1999.
The major agricultural show in KwaZulu Natal is the annual Royal Agricultural Show held in Pietermaritzburg. The Club started in a small way by obtaining a stand in 1992 to display a few tractors. This proved popular with the public and the Club continued expanding the display each year for the next nine years. The Club decided in 1996 to highlight Ferguson tractors in particular and continued in the following years with the same interesting trend. Thus Fordson, John Deere and I-H tractors, Lister engines and G North & Son had their turn. Researching each company thus became an interesting task, particularly the local history of the equipment dealers, salesmen and the numerous anecdotes that surfaced. This information has all been documented. The size of the Club displays increased threefold in this time and many trophies were received from the Show Society in recognition of the excellent displays."We unfortunatly no longer exhibit at the Royal Show, as our priorities lie elsewhere."
Setting up class displays takes a lot of time and effort but there are usually great rewards when a now better-informed public come to light with various donations of vintage equipment, hitherto lying in the corner of a farmyard.
We exhibit at smaller outdoor shows throughout KZN by invitation and members also make a point of supporting shows put on by other branches whenever possible. The annual Clocolan Show is one in particular. Situated in the E Free State some 450 Kms away, it is always difficult to transport items to show. In 1997, one of our members suggested that driving one's tractor there might be a simpler method. And so the regular Clocolan Trek was born. Averaging 150 Kms a day, the three-day trip became a regular feature for several years. The motley assortment of vintage tractors all well past their 'sell by' date was something never before seen on the roads. Night stops at camping grounds helped strengthen the great camaraderie already developed amongst these hardy drivers and supporters.
Other activities have included ploughing with vintage equipment, shorter Tractor Treks through scenic areas, and assistance with various charitable fund-raising projects.
Membership of the Club automatically includes one's spouse or partner as this make for family involvement. Regular social gatherings are held at various member's homes around the province and this promotes exchange of ideas and encourages restoration projects.
Promoting the Club to the public by way of shows, invariably results in contact being made with the older generation who used our equipment and from whom valuable first-hand information is obtained. This in turn allows us to better appreciate the worth of our equipment and the influence early mechanisation had on agriculture.