Normac farm machinery club celebrates 70th anniversary

Normac 70th anniversary. Pictured: Norfolk Farm Machinery Club members at a celebratory event at Sho

Normac 70th anniversary. Pictured: Norfolk Farm Machinery Club members at a celebratory event at Shotford Hall Farm in Harleston. - Credit: Submitted

A popular institution among the region's machinery community celebrated its 70th anniversary with a typically practical day of demonstrations and competitions.

The Norfolk Farm Machinery Club (Normac) marked the milestone with an event at Shotford Hall Farm, in Harleston, where friends and family enjoyed a trailer tour around the fields, while club members undertook a series of contests.

They included a fault-finding competition, where teams scrutinised equipment to spot missing sensors, chains and split pins on machines including a beet harvester, forage wagon, and slurry tanker.

It was a perfect way to celebrate the birthday of the club, which was founded in 1946 to promote the study and development of agricultural machinery, and to organise demonstrations and competitions.

County co-ordinator Chris Thomas said: 'When Normac started it was really a hangover from the war, when farm mechanisation was coming in more and more, and there was a need to educate farmers and tractor drivers on the safe use of farm machinery. That has not changed at all, but now we try to involve a social aspect as well.

'Some machinery has become pretty high-tech these days. The farmer is no longer the old boy with a straw hanging out of his mouth. You need to be on the ball with that sort of technology just to keep up. That is what we aim to do.

'The fault-finding is all about observation. It is the kind of thing they should be looking for on their own machines. It keeps the eye in, and keeps you observant about what's there. We have always erred on the side of practical demonstrations'

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Normac has about 300 members across its eight regional centres at Dereham, Diss, Docking, Holt, Loddon, North Walsham, Swaffham and Wymondham,

Each arranges monthly events and guest speakers, giving talks on the latest ideas and techniques, and how to get the best out of new machines.

The club's major county-wide events include its cultivations demonstration, which this year will be held at Hardingham Farms near Wymondham on September 8, featuring a large display of tractors, sprayers and ancillary equipment.

It will also host its innovation competition at the Royal Norfolk Show, with 24 competitors demonstrating their new mechanical ideas to be judged by Prof Dick Godwin from Harper Adams University.

Normac's origins

After the Second World War, when food was scarce and self-sufficiency was a priority, there was a tremendous upsurge in new ideas, techniques and education in all aspects of farming – particularly in mechanisation, and the need to replace the horse as the main source of power on the land.

The need to educate farmers about these new techniques was recognised during a discussion in January 1946, within the Norwich branch of the Institute of British Agricultural Engineers.

A sub-committee established the objectives of the newly-founded Norfolk Farm Machinery Club and, at the ensuing inaugural public meeting in Norwich in March, 40 people paid 5/- to become members. The meeting was chaired by Mr W Newcombe-Baker and a committee was formed consisting of Ben Burgess, S Eglington, A Garrod, N Langridge, JC Mann from the Norfolk Agricultural Station at Sprowston, W Parker, JR Ware and R Wright.

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