On Thursday 5th November, 1903, the annual North Kent Agricultural Association Ploughing Match was held at Blackdale Farm, Darenth. The number of spectators was a record as many thousands of Kent and London people took advantage of the bright say and close proximity to Dartford to come and attend the Match. The farm’s well-drained soils were described as very suitable or the contest, as a day or so’s break from the incessant rain had proved sufficient to ‘render the ground in capital condition’.
There were 117 ploughs entered (slightly down on 1902’s 123 entries), and entries for other competitions were satisfactory, although the number of hard fruit entries was down, which was thought to be because of the adverse weather.
‘it is a stubborn fact that the old Kent wooden plough is foremost for excellent work on the heavy soils of the county. The wooden plough again triumphed in the competition for the best piece of work open to all kinds of plough.’
The notable feature was the general improvement in the ploughing, which is satisfactory as that is the aim of the Association. Although the entries were small, great interest was taken in the new class this year, eligible for farmers or farmers’ sons, and first honours were won by Mr E.J. Allen of Stone Hill, Wilmington.
Another great attraction was the motor ploughing, Mr Albone of Biggleswade was present with one of his Ivel motors and Messrs Drake & Fletcher (of Maidstone) had a rival appliance, both were motor vehicles trailing a plough…Speaking on the motor ploughing generally, the opinion with farmers was that the horse ploughing excelled; nevertheless, the motor would be economical, and there were other points in its favour, especially its adaptability to every kind of farm work, including heavy haulage, where power was required. The many uses of the motor, coupled with the fact that the cost is little more than a good team of horses, led one well-known farmer to remark “it has come to stay”. It is stated that for work petrol will only come to half the cost of fodder. In reaping and similar operations, it will be most effective.
The match had been organised by the committee, headed by Mr John Russell the veteran sportsman and father of the Association (of St John’s Sutton at Hone). The ploughing was completed by noon, and the prizes were presented by Mr. Algernon M. Fleet of Darenth, who had permitted the use of Blackdale Farm.
Champion turnrise ploughs
Ordinary turnrise ploughs
Champion iron balance ploughs or other Iron One-way Ploughs: 1st prize – R. Mitchell with Mr John Russell, Sutton at Hone
Ordinary iron balance ploughs or other iron one-way ploughs
Three horse abreast iron balance ploughs or other iron one-way ploughs (without drivers)
Champion iron ploughs: 1st prize – Arthur Turner, with Mr. V. Earle, Horton Kirby
Ordinary Iron Ploughs
Three horse abreast iron ploughs (without drivers)
Two horse iron ploughs (without drivers)
Silver Cup (value 5 guineas) offered by Messrs. Ransomes, Sim and Jeffries, Ltd, competed for by farmers, or farmers’ sons, with an iron balance or other iron one-way plough)
Special prize of 1 guinea each, offered by Mr. F.R. Stoneham for the best for the best piece of work with a turnrise plough
Special prize of 1 guinea each, offered by Mr. F.R. Stoneham for the best for the best piece of work with a iron plough
Special prizes of two English Silver watches awarded by Mr Stoneham, one each to the oldest and youngest ploughman who receives a prize.
Special prize of a silver watch offered by Mr John Russell (of St. John’s, Sutton at Hone) to the youngest ploughman who has competed for three consecutive years in the employ of the same master.
Special prize of a silver watch offered by Mr John Wood, Crockenhill, Swanley, to the ploughman longest in the employee of the same master.
Harnesses & Horses (one of the judges was Mr. Carl Hibbert, formerly with the R.H.A., and now proprietor of The Greyhound, Sutton at Hone)
Three horse team – best kept harness (cash prizes)
Two horse team – best kept harness (cash prizes)
Mangels, Long Red, upland grown: 1st prize – R. Brett, South Darenth
Mangel, Yellow Globe
Mangel – any other variety (marsh grown)
Potatoes: 2nd prize – J. Langlands, Sutton-at-Hone
Veitch’s Autumn Giant Cauliflower
Coleworts (a form of cabbage)
Market Cabbages: 1st prize – J. Langlands, Sutton-at-Hone
Mangels (for Carter’s silver plate)
Swedes (for Carter’s silver plate)
Green Globe Turnip
Messrs. R & H Strickland’s (Dartford) prizes for:
Brussels Sprouts grown with their Poudrette manure
Potatoes grown with their Poudrette manure
Cauliflowers grown with their Poudrette manure : 2nd prize – V. Earle, Horton Kirby
Market producer (prizes offered by Mr F.R. Stoneham, Erith
Wrench’s Mangel (Yellow Globe)
King of the Market Brussels Sprouts: 1st prize – V. Earle, Horton Kirby
Veitch’s Autumn Giant Cauliflower
Mangels, best dozen roots
Swede, best dozen roots
Potatoes, best twenty tubers
Best half-sieve Brussels Sprouts
Bets six heads Cauliflowers
Corn – classes for White Wheat, Red Wheat, Black Oats, Winter Oats
Malting Barley, Chevalier variety – 1st prize J. Langlands, Sutton at Hone
White Oats (presented by Royal Artillery Draghunt, Woolwich) – 1st prize Cannon & Rogers, Horton Kirby
The annual dinner was held at 6.30pm that evening at the Bull Hotel, Dartford. The Chair was taken by Mr. A.M. Fleet, J.P. (of Darenth Grange), others present included Mr. John Russell (of Sutton at Hone), Sir William Hart-Dyke, M.P. (of Lullingstone Castle), Mr L.P. Kekewich (Chairman of the Association) and Capt Powerll, Master of the Royal Artillery Draghours, Woolwich.
In the speeches following the dinner, Sir William Hart-Dyke congratulated the members on the success of the meeting despite the recent difficulties of the weather, and referred to the apathy of town dwellers with regard to the position of agriculture.
Mr John Russell spoke of the great amount of work the arrangements of the Association entailed. He was glad to take the opportunity of thanking all their valued friends both sporting and non-sporting, including many members of the Stock Exchange for their great and constant liberality which had enabled them to give such handsome prizes to competitors.