Designed by Harry Ferguson himself, the Ferguson TE 20 (Tractor England 20) was more commonly known as the Little Grey Fergie. These tractors were manufactured from 1946-1956 and marked a major advance in tractor design as it was distinguished by its lightweight, small size, maneuverability, and versatility.
Due to the launch of this machine, the hydraulic three-point hitch system became popular around the world. The three-point hitch was a type of hitch used for attaching ploughs and other implements. This marked a major advance in tractor design, allowing farmers to farm in a way that mechanised all aspects of crop production to more efficiently feed the world.
Over half a million of these machines were built at the Banner Lane site, just West of Coventry, a large number of them are still at work on farms today whilst others remain prized collectors’ items. Just recently a call was made to Garry Johnson, Brigg Service Supervisor, from a customer who was asking about the dimensions of a Grey Fergie because, just as it happens, we have one here at P&B, tucked away from sight. Mr Braddy called to ask about the dimensions of the little grey machine as he has just tracked down and purchased his father’s Grey Fergie. It was originally purchased in 1950 from Greenacres (which is now Peacock & Binnington Louth) and it is understood to be the first Ferguson TEA20 in the Waltham area.
“I remember sitting on the Little Grey Fergie when I was 3 or 4 years old. A story that my dad often fondly told is that I knew how to start it up ‘better than any of the other lads who borrowed it from us!’ When I was still small, my dad sold the tractor to a local turf company, the same two brothers who used to borrow it for the odd job. If I can recall, I think that they held it until around 1960 and that is where my search for it went cold.”
Speaking to Mr. Braddy, it was clear that this tractor really was of sentimental value to him. He explained to us why he wanted to find the Little Grey Fergie so badly:
“I really had tried hard to track it down, around 10 years it took me in total. I wanted the tractor to be passed down to my sons and then on to their children and to be brought right back to its original roots in Waltham, Lincolnshire.
I would often drive around Lincolnshire, trying to spot a Little Grey Fergie in any farmyard but this just wasn’t enough if I really wanted to find it. The DVLA database was the next place I looked, I would search for it being actually registered, but at first, this returned… nothing. Finally, I saw that a Little Grey Fergie of the same reg was re-registered! The internet really is amazing these days.”
To Mr. Braddy’s delight, the original Little Grey Fergie had been located after a long 10 year search, the hard part was to get it back! After discovering that it had been auctioned at Cheffins in Cambridgeshire, further research on the internet revealed that the tractor had gone near Kings Lynn where it had undergone a substantial restoration. Initial conversations with the person who had restored it indicated that he had sold to a gentleman in Kent.
After several emails and three-way conversations, a deal was agreed to purchase the tractor. The gentleman is actually a collector and usually wouldn’t sell any of his vehicles, but when told about the historical value that this Little Grey Fergie held for Mr. Braddy and his family, he related to the story and allowed him to purchase it back. As can be imagined, Mr. Braddy is extremely grateful to the collector for allowing it to return to the family. This tractor is now sitting on the original soil that it started at back in the 1950s as a gleaming new Fergie. What was originally his father’s smallholding in Waltham is now a housing site made up of bungalows. One of Mr. Braddy’s sons had bought one of the bungalows and has been living in it with his family for around 10 years. The tractor returned, once again, to the exact place where it started its journey.
“As a promise, my two sons have said they will never sell this tractor and it will be passed down the generations for years to come. The machine has a Grimsby registration and still drives all these 70 years later!” Mr. Braddy excitedly concluded.