Tractor Fest showcases role of period lighting sets during World War II

Jeremy Heslop

A special feature at this year’s Tractor Fest, being staged at Newby Hall in June, will be a display of period lighting sets used during the Second World War.

Mains electricity was not common during the first half of the 20th century. Those who wanted electric lighting needed to have their own source of generation.

For many country houses, farms and factories, this came in the form of a stationary engine driving a dynamo – known as a lighting set.

There will be over 50 examples of these sets on display at Tractor Fest, the largest outdoor tractor festival in the UK at Newby Hall near Ripon. This year’s event takes place on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 June.

The lighting sets range from huge industrial examples to more modestly sized ones which were used by the military during the Second World War to power things such as mobile search lamps or other equipment. This year’s Tractor Fest commemorates the outbreak of the Second World War with a 1940s theme.

Lighting sets were used throughout the country and many were retained following the introduction of the National Grid to act as back-ups in case of power cuts.

Exhibitor Jeremy Heslop will be displaying a 1933 Crossley HD3 diesel engine lighting set which is mounted in the back of a vintage lorry. Mr Heslop, from near York, has owned the 12 horse power set for 15 years.

A steel fabricator and vintage engine enthusiast, Mr Heslop will also be exhibiting a 1960s Lister CE generating set.

Mr Heslop, who has exhibited at Tractor Fest since it started in 2006, said: “I’ve always been interested in vintage dynamos and their ability to produce electricity for lighting and other uses. I’m pleased to bring my Crossley HD3 to take part in the lighting set feature at Newby Hall.”

This year’s Tractor Fest will also feature displays of vintage tractors from the 1940s, including the Fordson N tractor – ‘the tractor that won the war’.

Tractor Fest will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Fordson N tractor with a display of 90 Fordsons – one for each year of manufacture. Produced by Henry Ford & Son, the Fordson was the most ubiquitous tractor in the UK during World War II. Its reliability and affordability made it possible for many farmers to own a tractor for the first time as it was cheaper to maintain than horses.

Tractor Fest celebrates all things tractor, showcasing both vintage and modern marques, cars, lorries, stationary engines, crawlers and motorcycles from around the UK and abroad.

The annual two-day festival attracts more than 12,000 visitors and 1,500 exhibits.


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