Former farm worker re-united with steam engine more than 70 years after he last ploughed the fields with it

Peter Woodham with the vintage steam engine.

Peter Woodham with the vintage steam engine. - Credit: Archant

A former farm worker couldn’t help but feel that there was something strangely familiar about a steam engine he encountered on a trip to a vintage machinery show.

But it wasn’t until 89-year-old Peter Woodham returned home that he finally remembered why - he had worked on the very same engine as a teenager more than 70 years previously.

Mr Woodham, who was born in Stow Longa, was on a visit to a show in Sorley Cross, in Devon, where he now lives, when he came across the engine, made by John Fowler and Co, of Leeds.

Mr Woodham’s son Paul said: “Dad has had a lifelong interest in farm machinery, having started to work on farms at age 10 going full time and still in short trousers, at age 14.

“He spent a long time reminiscing about the steam engines pulling the plough and how he rode on the steam plough to keep the furrows straight. During our visit to the show he said several times that there was something ‘familiar’ about one of the steam engines.

“It was not until later and returning home, that he sat down and properly read the programme. He was staggered to discover that the engine was the same one he worked on in the early 1940s.”

The owner of the steam engine had detailed records of the machine’s history and was able to confirm Mr Woodham’s suspicions.

Most Read

Paul said: “Dad last saw the machine in 1944 as American tractors were beginning to replace them on farms, being cheaper to run than the majestic old engines.”

Mr Woodham tried to join the army three times as a youngster in the 1940s but, according to Paul, “each time they discovered he worked on the land, so he was ordered to stay on the farm”.

Mr Woodham lived in Spaldwick for 25 years, and then Little Paxton for 47 years before moving to Devon last year.

Paul added: “I have never seen my father so excited in years, it quite made his day. He has talked about little else since.”