Posted 19 October 2020
“The tractor has served our family well as a working machine, but also brought us much happiness…We couldn’t be happier with its new home.”
A vintage tractor first handed to a long-standing university supporter’s family in the 1950s has taken up residence at Harper Adams.
The TE20 Ferguson, better known as The Little Grey Fergie, was presented more than 60 years ago to the family of the late Mr Tony Burgess during a ceremony at the Savoy Hotel. Now the family have presented it, on loan, to the university Mr Burgess volunteered his time to tirelessly for decades.
Mr Burgess was Chairman of the Harper Adams University Development Trust prior to his passing in 2018, but had also previously served on the University Board of Governors.
The Development Trust flourished under his leadership. He joined the trust in 2004 and guided its rise. The value of the scholarships and sponsorship secured by the trust has risen from £17,500 in 2006 to more than half a million now.
Throughout his career in accountancy, Mr Burgess maintained a direct interest in farming through managing his own arable farm in Ellerton, Shropshire. Piers Burgess, his younger son, said: “My father was passionate about the continuing education of young people in agriculture and dedicated much of his life to ensuring that young people were able to access scholarships and support through his work as the Chairman of the University’s Development Trust.
“Loaning his Little Grey Fergie to the university to enable students both the educational and historic benefits of the machine is a fitting tribute to him. The tractor has served our family well as a working machine, but also brought us much happiness, as my father, and his grandchildren, have all loved the Little Grey Fergie. We couldn’t be happier with its new home.”
Parmjit Chima, Head of Engineering at Harper Adams, said “The Little Grey Fergie was at the forefront of the farming mechanisation revolution, we are delighted to have received the loan of the tractor to the University, both to educate the new generation of engineers and to carry out useful jobs around the campus. The Burgess Fergie has already been a big hit with the new and returning engineering students and members of staff, alike.”
The Ferguson TE20 model was revered the world over. Designed by Harry Ferguson and manufactured from 1946 until 1956, it was seen as a major advance in tractor design with the lightweight design, versatility, small size and manoeuvrability. Harry Ferguson’s innovative hydraulic three-point hitch system, which was pioneered on the grey Fergie, became an international standard for tractors off all makes and sizes, and is still in place today. The Ferguson TE20 played a large part in bringing mechanisation to farming and in many parts of the world, was the first tractor that allowed farmers to move from the draft horse and manual labour. Across the world, the tractor remains a popular collector’s item, and is still in regular use in everyday farming.