From Allis-Chalmers to Vickers, the A-Z of the UK tractor industry in the years between 1945 and 1965 – an era when Britain mechanised the world’s farms – is a wonderful story of personal endeavour and pioneering innovation. It was a golden age of British tractors as new manufacturers and new models emerged to meet a growing demand for greater agricultural mechanisation; a demand shaped by the events surrounding the end of the Second World War. Manpower on the farms was short, and the situation was made more critical by the US Government’s decision to terminate the wartime Lend-Lease agreement, resulting in a restriction on imports of wheeled tractors from the USA.
Both new and existing British manufacturers, including the famous names of David Brown, Ferguson, Fordson and Nuffield, rose to meet the challenge. However, American firms, such as International Harvester, Massey-Harris and Minneapolis-Moline, were determined not to be left on the sidelines and managed to circumvent the import restrictions by establishing their own plants in the UK. The result was an eclectic mix of tractor makers – from vast factories engaged in mass production to low-volume backyard enterprises that targeted the niche markets.
The writer, a universally acknowledged expert in the subject whose work has been widely published in books and magazines, has drawn together all the diverse strands of the story to reveal a rich tapestry of engineering achievement. He explains how the rapid expansion of the industry was driven by the growing demands of a market that had doubled in size within just three years. This book presents the story from a fascinating viewpoint, using the manufacturers’ brochures and sales material of the period to reveal each tractor model in colourful and captivating detail. There are more than 400 images in all, giving a unique flavour of the times and an impression of the features that the firms were highlighting to promote their products.