Stroll down the river to the 1940s

23:14, Feb 05 2013
Ross Cook
Ross Cook and Ken Barr check Thomas the Tank engine is in good working order for towing trailer-loads of children at Brayshaw Heritage Park on Waitangi Day.

Farm machinery enthusiasts are looking forward to showcasing the farming history of Marlborough at Brayshaw Heritage Park in Blenheim tomorrow, Waitangi Day.

Marlborough Vintage Farm Machinery Club members Ross Cooke and Ken Barr of Blenheim said yesterday they were never short of a job with more than 250 tractors and thousands of antique machines awaiting restoration in 22 sheds at the park off New Renwick Rd.

"Ross can't afford to die until he's 147, he's got so much to do," Mr Barr said.

The club was photographing and numbering every item, but the enormous task would take a long time.

A core of about 10 club members spent at least a day a week working on the machinery, Mr Barr said. With plenty of vintage tractors in working order, efforts were focused on other equipment.

Mr Cooke said people from around the world were overwhelmed at the variety of old machinery stored at the park and its good condition.


This was thanks to the Marlborough District Council which provided storage space for a peppercorn rental.

"This was Marlborough before grapes," he says gesturing to a collection ranging from items rusting outdoors to those fully restored.

Club member Godfrey Earle of Blenheim said the Waitangi Day celebration was an opportunity to acknowledge Marlborough's farming history.

"The Maori were very good traders and were selling produce to the Australians before the Pakeha came in with their farming methods," Mr Earle said. "We sped things up with our machinery which is part of our histories which are intertwined."

Tomorrow the club will take children on rides behind Thomas the Tank Engine built on an Oliver 70 tractor and have an antique hay-stacker once pulled by a horse up and running.

Mr Cooke says he has been tied up with machinery all his life, as a farmer growing crops in Ward and Seddon then as the owner of a hydraulics business. Mr Barr worked in a sawmill at Rai Valley for 30 years and Mr Earle farmed at Collingwood then Wairau Valley in Marlborough before working as an engineer for Cuddon Engineering in Blenheim.

The 2013 Brayshaw Park Heritage Day celebration from 10am to 4pm has a 1940s theme.

Entry by gold coin donation or free for children under 10.

The Rotary Club of Blenheim will lead a 4km stroll along the Taylor River to Brayshaw Park for Heritage Day celebrations on Waitangi Day.

Certificates will be stamped along the walk providing free entry to the park and children will win spot prizes.

Meet at 10am at the amphitheatre in front of Raupo cafe in Blenheim with a gold coin donation towards Rotary community projects.

To find out more, phone Clive, 021 544 572.