'Everyone's friend' - Tributes to farming industry figure Jim Davidson

Jim and his wife Isabel raising a glass at a garden party

Norfolk agricultural industry figure Jim Davidson has died aged 93. Here he is pictured with his wife Isabel raising a glass at a garden party - Credit: ALEX MATHIAS

A well-known figure in Norfolk's agricultural industry has been described as "hard-working, hard-playing and always enthusiastic" after he died aged 93.

Jim Davidson, originally from Scotland, moved to the county during the 1970s after being head-hunted by Catchpole Engineering, later taken over by Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies.

This was a move which would accelerate his career in the sugar beet machinery industry.  

Following his time at Ransomes, Sims andJefferies, he spent a brief spell at John Salmon Engineering where Mr Davidson had a chance encounter with Peter Claxton – a Norfolk pig farmer who had recently started selling Irish Armer top-lifting sugar beet harvesters in the UK.  

Having started importing Armer machines in 1963 from a small building at Great Massingham airfield, Mr Claxton was keen to recruit a salesman.

Demand for Armer harvesters had rocketed because of its ability to harvest as much as four acres a day, far outstripping the competition at that time.

he Armer top-lifting system was also suited to Norfolk soil types, finding favour with growers in the West Midlands too. 

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Mr Davidson joined Armer Salmon where he worked as a sales manager for many years and enjoyed success with the company until he retired.  

He eventually settled with his wife, Isabel, into their home in Fincham, near Downham Market. Mrs Davidson died two years ago, and previously to that, their son, Stuart, died five years ago. 

Alex Mathias, friend and former colleague, said: "Jim was always one of the first on-site at shows and demonstrations, and definitely first at the hotel bar.  

"He was a hard-working, hard-playing and always enthusiastic man. I will always remember Jim for his fantastically mischievous sense of humour.   

"He was everybody’s friend, and one of the funniest people I've ever met. 

"He will be greatly missed."

Richard Nicholl, a retired agricultural machinery salesman who worked with Mr Davidson, said: "Jim was one of my favourite manufacturer representatives, always professional, cheerful, supportive and caring."

Chris Druce, of Norwich, worked with him during the early 90s and described the news as “very sad”.  

Mr Davidson died on Friday, January 8, and leaves behind his daughter, Helen. 

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