Merlin engine roars again

Classic cars at a Northumberland Vintage Tractor Rally.
Classic cars at a Northumberland Vintage Tractor Rally.

There’s a double celebration at the Northumberland Vintage Tractor Rally this weekend.

Not only is it the rally’s 40th anniversary, it is also 70 years since the sound of a Merlin engine roared on the runway at Brunton. The Northumberland Vintage Tractor Club is holding the rally on Saturday and Sunday at Brunton Airfield, Christon Bank.

Vintage buses at a Northumberland Vintage Tractor Rally.

Vintage buses at a Northumberland Vintage Tractor Rally.

It all started in the early 1970s when a small group of local farmers were sitting in the pub talking about old tractors and farming machinery that they had used in the past and how different it was to the present day.

A lot of this old machinery, at the end of its life, was just left in the back of the barn or out of the way in the dark depths of the farm yard. After several more pints, it was decided to dig out the old gear and restore it back to working order.

Over the next few months and when time permitted, the tyres were pumped up and the old machines were brought out of retirement. The use of a local field was obtained and a date set for what they all thought would be just a few people playing on their old tractors and machinery.

However, somehow word got out and quite a few people turned up to watch the events of the day.

It was around this time that the vintage movement was starting to get off the ground and the farmers decided to hold a rally of their own and the Northumberland Vintage Tractor Club was born,

The theme for this year’s rally is anything that was on a dealer’s forecourt 40 years ago. Many local agricultural dealers are bringing along what is on their forecourts today to show how things have developed over the last four decades.

There’s a special treat in store on Sunday when a Merlin engine from a Lancaster bomber will be on display and fired up. Over the weekend there will be more than 500 exhibits from as far afield as Scotland and Manchester.

Saturday’s main event is the collective vintage auction for which people bring along a vast array of vintage exhibits to enter on the day of the sale. On both days there will be vintage tractors, steam, cars, commercials, motorbikes, car boot stands, a large selection of trade stalls, a craft tent and auto jumble.

Gates open at 10am on both days. Admission is £4 on Saturday, £6 on Sunday. Kids up to 12 go free.