Posts Tagged ‘Coventry’
Massey Ferguson reports that enthusiastic crowds turned out to see the historic ’70 Tractors for 70 Years’ parade through the streets of the City of Coventry on 30 July.
The cavalcade and display of machines old and new was staged by Culture Coventry to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the start of production of the iconic Ferguson TE20 tractor. In July 1946, the first Ferguson TE20 tractor, affectionately known as the ‘Little Grey Fergie’, rolled off the assembly line at its former Banner Lane manufacturing plant in Coventry in the UK. The tractor was the brainchild of engineer and inventor, Harry Ferguson, a founder of the present-day Massey Ferguson, one of the world’s foremost producers of farm machinery for global markets.
The tractors for the event were brought together by the Friends of Ferguson Heritage Club. Led by a 20.3hp 1947 Ferguson TE20, equipped with a 2-furrow plough, and the mighty 400hp MF 8737 – the most powerful tractor in the current Massey Ferguson line-up – the procession wound its way through Coventry finishing at Millennium Place outside the Transport Museum. Unusually, it was not the familiar Massey Ferguson red livery for the MF 8737. Instead, it had been especially prepared by Massey Ferguson with striking black paintwork – paying homage to the prototype Ferguson Black tractor of 1933 which was the first to incorporate Harry Ferguson’s pioneering ideas for a three-point linkage system to connect tractor and implement. In a tribute to the manufacturing legacy of the Banner Lane plant, Massey Ferguson named the black MF 8737 the ‘City of Coventry’. Seated in the cab for the duration of the parade was the Lord Mayor of Coventry, Councillor Lindsley Harvard.
“It was a marvellous event and wonderful to see this pageant celebrating the brilliant engineering of the Ferguson TE20 which changed the world of farm mechanisation.” says Campbell Scott, Massey Ferguson Director Marketing Services (who himself drove a 1949 TEA20 tractor in the blue livery of Brighton Corporation). “We are so proud of this superb legacy of practical and innovative technology which continues to inspire our design engineers and is at the heart of Massey Ferguson’s 21st century mission to produce straightforward, dependable equipment to increase the efficiency and productivity of farmers all over the world. Today, more than 200,000 tractors bearing our famous Massey Ferguson ‘Triple Triangle’ brand are built every year for global markets.”
Tractors taking part in the pageant showcased a wide range of Ferguson, Massey-Harris and Massey Ferguson machines produced since 1946. The tractor coming from furthest afield for the event was a 1949 Ferguson TEA20 fitted with half-track equipment which travelled nearly 200 miles from Exeter in Devon. From much closer to home was a 2015 MF 5610 Dyna-4 on turf tyres based in Finham, Coventry. A beautifully-restored, prize-winning MF 65 industrial tractor painted in the requisite yellow from Skipton, Yorkshire represented the non-agricultural ranges.
Over half a million Ferguson TE20 tractors (Tractor England) were built at the Banner Lane plant between 6 July 1946 and 13 July 1956. Key to the global success of the tractor was its unique three-point linkage implement attachment system controlled by the tractor’s hydraulics. Designated the ‘Ferguson System,’ this effectively turned the tractor and implement into a single working unit, replacing the previous cumbersome trailed method of implement operation.
Massey Ferguson is a leading global farm machinery brand producing a full-line range of tractors, harvesting equipment and agricultural implements. Its well-known red-liveried equipment is distributed in 140 countries.
Established in 1994, The Friends of Ferguson Heritage Club has over 5000 members worldwide who are dedicated to all things Ferguson, Massey Ferguson and Massey Harris.
The Ferguson TE20’s 70th anniversary inspired Culture Coventry’s current ‘Tractors – From Factory to Field’ exhibition at Coventry Transport Museum (runs until 19 September) and the public display of the Daniel Massey Bronze Sculpture at the city’s Herbert Museum and Art Gallery. Culture Coventry manages three of Coventry’s major visitor attractions including Coventry Transport Museum, Herbert Museum and Art Gallery and the Lunt Roman Fort.
Six years after AGCO moved to its new European Office Facility at Abbey Park Stoneleigh in the UK, the company’s long-time office block at Banner Lane, Coventry was demolished by its current owners, Persimmon Homes on 8 July.
“The Banner Lane tractor manufacturing plant which closed in 2003 and 16-storey office block at Coventry in the UK which we vacated in 2006, were very much part of the history of AGCO’s Massey Ferguson brand and its successful development over more than six decades,” said Richard Markwell, Massey Ferguson Vice-President and Managing Director Europe, Africa and Middle East (EAME).
“The Tower Block and the factory site at Coventry formed the centre of Massey Ferguson’s global operations for many years. They played an important part in the working lives of thousands of people, helping to drive the spirit and camaraderie of one of the world’s most famous farm machinery brands which continues to go from strength to strength,” he stated. “2011 was an exceptional year for Massey Ferguson with record results, a host of new product introductions and major sales growth.”
The demolition of the office block is part of Persimmon Homes ongoing redevelopment of the area which has already seen the construction of over 600 new homes with a further 400 properties expected to follow. The land will now form part of an area to be offered to Coventry City Council for the provision of a new school and playing field under the local authority’s confirmed planning agreement.
The Tower Block served the Banner Lane factory site and was occupied by Massey Ferguson and, latterly its parent company AGCO until 2006 when the company moved to a new home some eight miles (12 km) away at Abbey Park, Stoneleigh in Warwickshire. This followed the closure of the factory in 2003 and the consolidation of European tractor production onto AGCO’s manufacturing facility in Beauvais, France, now the site of the largest AGCO factory in Europe and the centre of Massey Ferguson’s Europe, Africa and Middle East operations.
“We can look back at the Banner Lane site with great respect and lasting memories of the role it played in our rich heritage and evolution – it is part of our DNA,” continued Mr Markwell. “While the Tower Block’s demolition is a poignant moment for all of us who have been associated with it, world economics, the markets we serve and indeed, the company along with its products have changed dramatically. As we develop and face different business challenges, like any successful business we adapt to changing environments and ensure that we can continue to grow. We are firmly established at our European Office facility at Abbey Park Stoneleigh, housed in 21st century purpose-built offices where we employ 500 people and which also includes our UK & Ireland Sales and Training Centre.”
“It is pleasing to know that the Banner Lane office block land is being considered as a site for a future school and that the housing development is providing the opportunity for people to get onto the property ladder for the first time. Once again the site will play its part in encouraging some highly positive developments,” he comments
The Tower Block was officially opened by Albert A Thornborough, the then President and Chief Executive Officer of Massey Ferguson Limited on 21 September 1966. At its peak, it housed 500 people including functions such as Sales and Marketing, Finance, IT, Customer Support and Human Resources. In order to accommodate the growing number of employees, the only way to build was up and it became an iconic part of the local skyline.
Massey Ferguson was acquired by the US-based AGCO Corporation in 1994 and remains one of the few truly global brands of farm machinery, distributing its renowned red tractors, combine harvesters and other farm equipment in up to 140 countries. Machines bearing the Massey Ferguson marque are produced at factories worldwide including France, Italy, United States, Brazil, Mexico, India, Pakistan, Japan and China.
“Today, Massey Ferguson has one of its strongest-ever machine line-ups with numerous international awards to our name. We continue to gain market share, providing straightforward, dependable equipment which farmers across the globe can rely on to produce and care for their vital crops and livestock,” says Richard Markwell.