Little Ben goes under the hammer

One of East Anglia's leading rural visitor attractions is selling surplus items of vintage and veteran agricultural machinery.Easton Farm Park, near Wickham Market in Suffolk, will make further space for the open farm by selling many items of farm equipment on Saturday, September 29.

One of East Anglia's leading rural visitor attractions is selling surplus items of vintage and veteran agricultural machinery.

Easton Farm Park, near Wickham Market in Suffolk, will make further space for the open farm by selling many items of farm equipment on Saturday, September 29.

And among the memorabilia, bygones, hay carts, wagons and vintage and classic tractors for sale is a very special portable steam engine. Little Ben was made by Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies and is numbered 3396.

Built in 1886, it is the second-oldest Ransomes steam engine recorded in preservation.


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The sale is being handled by Cheffins.

Auctioneer Bill King said that such an unusual and rare portable steam engine, which had been restored to a very high standard, was estimated to fetch between £14,000 and £16,000.

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The best vintage tractor for sale is a restored 1947 Field Marshall Series 2, registration BJL 514.

Most of the sale items were made by local manufacturers such as Ransomes of Ipswich, Ward of Long Melford, Roberts of Deanshanger, Smythe of Peasenhall and Murton and Turner of Kenninghall.

Fiona Kerr, who manages the family-run park - which draws 75,000 visitors a year - said: "We have to keep up with market trends, and it is clear that there is all-year demand for a family day out, so we want to free up several of our period barns to provide more indoor attractions and activities. The sale itself will be a rural experience for the general public as such sales are a feature of rural life as farms diversify or move forward. We are anxious to see these much-loved and valued artefacts go to good homes where they will be restored and preserved for the future."

Easton Farm Park was set up 33 years ago.

It has won an award from The Times for rural attractions, and four years ago the Kerr family were winners of the Suffolk Agricultural Association's large farm business competition.

"The vintage machinery and artefacts of yesteryear are not such a draw for the families and younger visitors who are our customers, and to that end the attics are being cleared for a spring-clean ready for attractions more suitable to our current market,"said Fiona.

"We shall have more animals and an increasing focus on food, farming and environment issues, which are much in demand by schools which visit us on an increasing basis.

"Our approach is market-driven, and it is a lesson in many ways for other rural-based business enterprises.

"Our experience and response to local market demands coincides with this week's launch of the government-led initiative, Year of Food and Farming, of which I am regional chairperson."

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