2013 Hedge Laying & Ploughing Match
The 2013 Melplash Agricultural Society annual hedge laying and ploughing match took place at Higher Langdon, near Beaminster by kind permission of Mrs Tessa Mackenzie-Green. Having set up the site the day before in bright sunshine the organisers on match day were unfortunately met with thick coastal mist with visibility under 30 yards making it difficult for all competitors!! However, the turnout across both hedging and ploughing was very good.
Despite the ploughmen not being able to see the pegs that they so carefully set out to make sure they kept their furrow straight the ploughing, as usual, was of a good standard and hotly contested. The hedge laying classes were once again well supported with competitors coming from across the West Country – Dorset, Devon, Somerset and even as far as Wales. The many spectators who braved the conditions saw people of all abilities pitting their skills against each other, and also saw local man Russell Woodham become the Overall Hedge Laying Champion for an impressive third time. He received the Cleeves & Edwina Palmer Cup donated by the 2013 President, Mr Cleeves Palmer .
MELPLASH HEDGELAYING & PLOUGHING MATCH 2013 RESULTS
Saturday 21st September 2013
Match held at Higher Langdon, nr Beaminster by kind permission of Mrs Tessa Mackenzie-Green
Class 1 – Local Class 2 – Novice
1st Russell Woodham, Dorchester, Dorset 1st Robert Wood, Dorchester, Dorset
2ndMatthew Bagwell, Powerstock, Dorset 2ndAlan Martin, Bourton, Dorset
3rd Tim Frampton, Burstock, Dorset 3rdRaymond Uhl, Dorset
Class 3 – Open
1st Martin Turner, Wellington, Somerset
2nd Terry Coombe, Yarcombe, Devon
3rd Colin Risdon, Cullompton, Devon
Class 4 – Ladies Open Class 5 – Pairs Open
1st Sharon Dowding, Corscombe, Dorset 1stJill Exton & Jen Newman, Weymouth, Dorset
2nd Lydia Harris, Cheslbourne, Dorset 2ndDR Ford & S Cooper, Corfe Castle, Dorset
3rd ——- 3rdMartin Shire & A Turner, Norton sub Hamdon, Somerset
Overall Hedge Laying Champion 2013 – Russell Woodham, Dorchester, Dorset
Tidiest Kept Site Cleanest Cut
George Pidgeon, Honiton, Devon Tim Frampton, Burstock, Dorset
Judges: Ian Connabeer, Henry Selway, Kevin Rendell & Les Bagwell
Class 7 – Vintage Trailed Class 8 – Vintage Hydraulic
1st Brian Johnston, Bridport, Dorset 1st Michael Symonds, Whitchurch, Dorset
2nd Peter Smith, Bridport, Dorset 2ndPeter Symonds, Bridport, Dorset
3rd —– 3rdRoly Collett, Bridport, Dorset
4th —– 4th Scott Symond, Chideock, Dorset
Class 9 – Match Ploughing Class 10 – Young Farmers
1st John Harris, Sturminster Newton 1stMichael Crabb, Beaminster YFC
2ndAlan Bailey, Bettiscombe
3rdAlex Norman, Beaminster YFC
Class 11 – 2 & 3 Furrow
1st Bruce Carter,Bridport, Dorset
2ndMichael Fooks, Poorton, Dorset
3rdDavid Lockyer, Bridport, Dorset
4thTony Ascott, Chideock, Dorset
Class 12 – 4 or more Furrows Class 13 – Contractors Challenge
1st Barry Dennett, Broadwindsor, Dorset 1stJames Wallbridge, Hooke, Dorset
2nd Andy Shute, Drimpton, Dorset 2ndWilliam Doble, Crewkerne, Somerset
3rdDavid Crabb, Melplash Dorset
4thS Fry, Dorset
Novice Ploughman – 1st David Lockyer, Bridport, Dorset 2nd G Smith
Best Strikeout in Classes 7-8-9: John Harris
Best Finish in Classes7-8-9: John Harris
Best Ploughing with John Deere tractor: Andy Shute
Best Ploughing with Case International, Case or David Brown tractor using a Kvenerland plough: Michael Symonds
Best ploughing with Ford New Holland Tractor, prize sponsored by Francis Bugler Ltd: Brian Johnston
Best Finish with 4 or 5 furrow plough: Barry Dennett
Best Strikeout in Classes 10-11-12-13: Jack Penney
Best Finish in Classes 10-11-12-13: David Lockyer
Champion Ploughman in Classes 7-8-9: John Harris
Reserve Champion in Classes 7-8-9: Brian Johnston
Open Champion Ploughman in Classes 10-11-12-13: Bruce Carter
Open Reserve Champion in Classes 10-11-12-13: Michael Fooks
Local Champion Ploughman in Classes 10-11-12-13: Bruce Carter
Local Reserve Champion in classes -10-11-12-13: Michael Fooks
Champion Vintage Class Ploughing: Brian Johnston
Judges: Bill Jolliffe, Stan Turner, John Yeates, David Wareham
The Cecil A Marsh Memorial Perpetual Challenge Cup for Best Hedging Local – Mr Russell Woodham
The Marcus Beresford Trophy for Best Hedging Novice – Mr Robert Wood
The Elizabeth Lady Williams Perpetual Challenge Cup for best Hedging Open – Mr Martin Turner
The Philip Hardwill cup for Best Young Farmer Hedging Open – Mr Matt Frampton
The Bartletts [Dorset] Ltd Cup for best pair hedging – Ms Jill Exton & Ms Jen Newman
The Melplash Agricultural Trophy for the best competitor in Ladies Class – Mrs Sharon Dowding
The Cleeves & Edwina Palmer cup for the overall Hedgelaying Champion – Mr Russell Woodham
The Jack Dare Trophy for Champion Vintage Tractor Ploughing – Brian Johnston
Stuart Mallinson Champion Ploughman [open] Silver Perpetual Challenge Cup – Mr Bruce Carter
Champion Ploughman [Local] Silver Perpetual Challenge Cup – Mr Bruce Carter
Blandford & Webb Perpetual Challenge Cup for Champion Ploughman in Vintage & Match classes – Mr John Harris
The Streatfeild Perpetual challenge Cup best General Purpose Ploughing Young Farmers – Mr Michael Crabb
Inter-Club Silver Perpetual Challenge Cup – YFC with the highest individual scores – Beaminster Young Farmers
Silver Perpetual Challenge Salver presented by Creed Brothers – Contractors Challenge Ploughing – Mr James Wallbridge
Silver Perpetual Challenge Cup for Case International – Mr Mark Symonds
The Sam Dennett Perpetual Memorial trophy for Best finish with a four or five furrow plough – Mr Barry Dennett
Whilst the exact details may be uncertain, the origins of the Society go back to the day that Melplash Village Church was consecrated on 20th October 1846. The Church had been built by Mr James Bandinell of Melplash Court, a well known benefactor, and a new parish was carved out of the parish of Netherbury.
On the same day a ploughing match, was held to resolve a dispute between two farmers as to whose ploughman was the better. Each staked £5, a not inconsiderable sum in those days, and in the celebrations put on for the consecration of the church and at the feast that was held in the Melplash Inn, now the Half Moon, the assembled farmers and landowners agreed to form the Melplash Agricultural Society and hold a ploughing competition open to all comers on 20th October 1847.
So since 1847 the Melplash Agricultural Society has held an annual ploughing match. Initially it was very much a local parish affair with horse drawn ploughs. It was a great occasion as it celebrated the successful gathering in of the harvest, and was the time when local farmers and their workers could show off their skills, impress their neighbours and have some fun. There was often a wager or two to be had too. After which, during the winter, they would plough the fields ready for sowing next year’s harvest. They used to say with two horses you could plough an acre a day if it was going well but you would have to have a good furrow horse and one on the land.
After the war more tractors began to appear in the fields. They started with the trailer ploughs and then with hydraulic power lifts on tractors, hydraulically operated implements were introduced. Gradually tractors replaced the horses in the annual ploughing match and due to increased mobility attracted more competitors from around the locality.
Ploughing is an ancient craft, and even though the speed of doing it has changed through mechanisation, improved machinery and implements, the art of ploughing has changed very little. The objective of ploughing is still to turn the top surface of the soil over to bury the plant growth and rubbish beneath where it will decompose. The depth of ploughing depends on the condition of the soil and what is going to be grown. A good ploughman is still someone who can keep a straight furrow whilst keeping the depth and turnover consistent.
PLOUGHING MATCH (affiliated to the Society of Ploughman) Today at the Melplash Agricultural Society Ploughing Match there are various types of ploughing on show – reversible, conventional, vintage and classic classes, for ploughman of all ages and abilities including farmers, ‘Young Farmers’ and agricultural contractors from the locality or further afield. There is a novice class to encourage people who have not competed in a competition before or for some considerable time. Stewards are available on the day to help them and to answer any queries they may have. A complimentary Ploughman’s lunch is provided to all competitors.
HAVE A GO AT PLOUGHING
It is recognised that it is not easy these days to learn to plough, with less people working on the land gone are the days when the skill would be passed from generation to generation. To give everyone a chance to have a go, there is a tractor and a plough available on Match day for anyone to have a try at ploughing with the help of an expert.
HEDGING (affiliated to the National Hedgelaying Society) Hedgerows define the uniqueness of the West Dorset countryside; they are a living fence which can be finished at different heights to keep in livestock and are essential for wildlife habitat. It is thought that the skill of hedgelaying dates back to Roman times. As well as marking field boundaries, they provide shelter and firewood. Many were made during the enclosures between 1770 and 1845. Ditches were dug to mark the boundary and hedges then grew on the banks of earth thrown up. In later years, men who laid hedges were paid to leave an oak tree every chain. (If you look across the Marshwood Vale you can still see evidence of this)
There are 30 different styles of hedge laying in the UK developed over many years to cope with the soil, topography and climate of the area. Although there are three different styles of Dorset Hedging they all follow the same principles. The preferred choice in this area is as follows:
Pleachers (cut stems) are laid flat and are secured by twisting ends of each pleacher under the proceeding one. Crooks are only used for securing at the start and to finish off.
FREE HEDGELAYING TRAINING DAY
In order to preserve this ancient art for future generations the Society aims to encourage more people to learn and develop the skills. Every year prior to the hedge laying competition the Society hosts a free training day for novices and Young Farmers on how to lay a Dorset Style hedge. Attendees are encouraged to enter the novice hedge laying competition on match day.
HEDGELAYING MATCH – On Match day there are various classes where hedge layers of all abilities can compete and demonstrate their skills. Local (12 miles radius of Melplash Village Church), Novice, Open, Young Farmers (Open) and Pairs (Open). All classes are free to enter. All hedging competitors who finish their work to the satisfaction of the judges will receive a small donation towards their expenses. A complimentary ploughman’s lunch is provided to all competitors in the ploughing and hedge laying classes.