John Deere fans celebrate legendary machine’s 50th birthday

The new John Deere 9620RX tractor. Picture:

Two different type of events will take place this month to commemorate John Deere’s 50th anniversary in the UK and Ireland.

Vintage John Deere in West Cork

This Sunday, West Cork Vintage Ploughing & Threshing Association are organising an event at Ardgehane, near Clonakilty to showcase 50 years of ‘The Deere’. 

Local enthusiasts plan to represent John Deere silage harvesters, from an early trailed machine accompanied by each model of self-propelled harvester in a large silage cutting demo.

Organisers hope to have at least 20 of these machines working together in one field. Each machine is to be accompanied by a tractor and trailer originating from the same era as each harvester. 

The John Deere Overtime Model R tractor, 1916. Picture: Malcolm Robinson
The John Deere Overtime Model R tractor, 1916. Picture: Malcolm Robinson

The organising club is also to host a ploughing match as in previous years. This part of the event shows the evolution in ploughing techniques and technology from horses to vintage through to modern day.

A threshing and harvest demo is also on the schedule for the event on September 11. 

The proceeds of the event go to charity and it should be noted that the Cullinane family of Shanaway, Ballineen, have donated a Kidd double chop silage harvester, which will be auctioned for charity on the day.

John Deere event in UK

One hundred years of John Deere tractors will be on show at the John Deere 50 Celebration in England on September 24 and 25. 

As well as trade stands, static machinery exhibits and working demonstrations of tractors and implements, the free outdoor event is planned to be a family day.

Activities planned to entertain all John Deere enthusiasts include archery, laser clay shooting, falconry, and skydiving displays, synchronised kite flying and live music. 

One of the main events will be the parade of 50 vintage, classic, and modern John Deere tractors and machinery will start with a 1916 Overtime Model R tractor, belonging to Lincolnshire farm manager Malcolm Robinson.

This will also include the iconic 4020 tractor, marking the beginnings of John Deere Limited at Langar in 1966, and represent every decade up to the present day, finishing with John Deere’s new flagship 620hp four-track 9620RX.

The Overtime tractor was given credit for helping the First World War effort by putting in many hours of overtime producing food for the war zone and the home front. 

John Deere’s first step into tractor production worldwide came in 1918 when the US company bought the Overtime’s manufacturer, the Waterloo Gasoline Traction Engine Company in Iowa, who also made the Waterloo Boy.

This machine’s simple two-cylinder design became a feature of John Deere tractors for another four decades.

Later in the 20th century, John Deere three wheel, high clearance tractors came into East Anglia from America at the end of the Second World War under the Lend-Lease deal.

For a short time in the early 1960s, a few dealers sold large John Deere tractors such as the 4010 — the UK’s first 100hp tractor — and 5010.

These were imported from the USA by Lundell (Great Britain) Ltd of Edenbridge in Kent, who initially pioneered the use of large horsepower tractors in the UK, and who were bought by John Deere in 1962.

John Deere Limited started trading from Langar in January 1966, and the original premises are still in use today as the company’s visitor centre and national parts distribution centre.

Of the original dealers who continued with the new company from that date, two are still John Deere dealers today and are owned by the same families — Ben Burgess in Norfolk and LE Tuckwell in Suffolk.

In addition to the 4020 tractor, several of the machines that represented the John Deere Limited product line in 1966 will also be at the event, including the first 5010 and 5020 tractors sold in the UK, ploughs, the C10 cultivator and the 530 and 630 combine harvesters.

“Aside from the historic two-cylinder John Deere tractors on display, the main focus of the event is to gather together examples of John Deere tractors and machinery sold through John Deere’s UK and Irish dealers from 1966 to 2016,” says heritage event organiser Peter Leech.

“At the moment we have registered tractors for every decade from the 1940s, but we would still love to hear from anyone with more recent machines, especially classic models from the 1980s and 1990s — even up to the modern 30 Series tractors. It’s an event for everyone, so tractors of all ages are welcome.”

Owners and fans of old and new John Deere machines who’d like to attend the event can register free on the John Deere UK & Ireland website. 


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