This film is part of Free
Sons of the Soil
Ilford's Fairlop Plain provides the battlefield for ploughing matches between local hands and Essex outsiders.
The bare earth looks heavy going, but there's a competition to be held at the annual October meet of the Ilford Farmers' Association. The horse drawn plough is still a working tool here, not yet a pub-side ornament, and each contestant steers teams of three shire horses hitched in single file, driving straight furrows through the clay of Fairlop Plain.
Although we only get a short glimpse of the spectators here, the annual Ilford ploughing matches are recorded as attracting thousands of onlookers. Typically for a newsreel item, we only get a hint of the competitive event, which required each participant to plough a plot 40 rods long by two rods wide - about 2000 square metres. Despite the enthusiastic following, the event didn't continue long into the 20th century - suburban expansion drew agricultural Essex into urban municipality and WWI took the young ploughmen to ply other fields.