It became apparent that after the Second World War, that British farming would become highly mechanised in a very short time, as new equipment became available to help with food production.

With the advent of the this new mechanisation on farms, there became a very obvious and necessary need for training. At this time staff were more accustomed to tacking up horses than cranking a starting handle!

The large arable estates of East Anglia were fast to embrace this shift towards mechanisation, given that around 15% of a farms area was used to produce and supply the horses with the feed required for the year and the very obvious time savings associated with the combustion engine as opposed to a horse!

In 1946 the then chairman of the Institution of British Agricultural Engineers, Mr William Newcombe-Baker of Sedgeford and Mr John Cleveland, who at the time was working as a machinery instructor for the Norfolk Agricultural Station both realised that there was a large number of farmers, and machinery operators, who were keenly interested in farm machinery and were already using all manner of machines themselves, but were not sufficiently qualified to become members of the Institution of Agricultural Engineers.

It was decided to call a meeting to launch the Norfolk Farm Machinery Club.

The meeting took place in April 1946.

The founding members were; Ben Burgess (farmer, Howe), Mr S Eglington (farmer, Shipdam), Alan Garrod (farmer, Great Hockham), Mr Neville Langridge (farmer, Postwick), Mr John Mann (Norfolk Agricultural Station and farmer at Bridgham), Mr William Newcombe-Baker (Institute of British Agricultural Engineers and farmer at Sedgeford), Mr William Parker (farmer, Babingley), Mr J. R. Ware (Institute of British Agricultural Engineers and farm manager at Bridgham) and Mr R. R. Wright.

The main objectives of the club were as follows;

  • To encourage study of and contact with the latest types of machinery and plant
  • The giving of lectures and technical instruction to farm machinery operators
  • To hold demonstrations and competitions of farm machinery
  • To help in the development and invention of machines and to make recommendations for improvements to the Institute of British Agricultural Engineers

At the first meeting held by the club in Norwich, William Newcombe-Baker agreed to show a film he had recorded on his own farm called 'A Year on a Mechanised Farm'. The meeting was well attended and another 20 joined, but it was clear that something more attractive was required.

It was decided to hold a row-crop demonstration with the support of trade entries and farmers own designs and to advertise this in the local papers.

The first demonstration was held courtesy of Edwin de Grey Seaman at his Fairstead Farm at Gaywood, King's Lynn.

If we fast forward now to the present day ,I'm sure Mr Cleveland would be amazed at the advancements that have occurred over the last 77 years, 12m drills, 500hp tractors, rubber tracks, GPS, autonomous tractors to name but a few. These advancements in mechanisation have also meant that far less man power is required to farm 1000 acres than was in 1950, subsequently the Normac membership has steadily dwindled as a direct result.

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Many of the photographs used on this website are with kind permission of Ryan Baker and David Laley (aka the Tractor Twitcher).