Ongar Ploughing Match

There’s something timeless about the sight of a newly ploughed field, furrows gleaming in the late summer sunshine and the promise of the growth to come.

And so, it was with some timeless pleasure my family and I ventured forth last week to the 100th Ongar Ploughing Match. Originally held in 1901, and disrupted for a few years by war or weather, this event has seen the steady transformation of ploughing from horse to steam to diesel.

In terms of ploughing history, this event’s centenary is a mere blink of the eye. Teams of Suffolk Punch and Shire horses made their way up and down the plough lines, turning the soil as they and their teams have done for many centuries. At the top of the main field two steam engines worked in tandem pulling a plough back and forth between them. And across the whole site a huge array of more modern machinery from the basic tractors of the early twentieth century to the goliaths of the twenty first, displayed their prowess.

A local farmer friend watched one such machine at work and declared the furrows not as straight as they should have been. A mild case of engine envy perhaps.

Brentwood and Ongar is a constituency with a wonderful mix of city workers, urbanites and country folk. The Ongar Ploughing Match brought all of them together for an exceptionally well organised (and free) family day out - and a marvellous reminder of our area’s rural history and skills. Weather permitting, it will be in my diary again in years to come.