A new bright red four wheel attraction will make its first official public appearance at the launch of the Festival at sunrise on 5 May.
Festival director Matt Holland will be up extra early to drive the Nuffield Universal 1952 tractor, newly acquired by Lower Shaw Farm, up to Lawn Wood to take part in the Dawn Chorus at the start of 13 days of a celebration of all things literary in Swindon, the twenty-first of its kind.
In the late 1940s and 50s, the Nuffield was the UK’s answer on the farms of Britain to tractors made by Massey-Ferguson of Canada and Ford from the USA.
The unmistakable Poppy Red livery could be seen toiling away in the fields from miles away. Production of the Nuffield ended in 1969, but the retired example which arrived at Lower Shaw Farm in West Swindon is still as strong as it ever was.
Matt said he was delighted to have a tractor back on the farm for more than curiosity value. "Andrea suggested we look round for a tractor to park in the play barn which children could climb on and we asked our vet to keep an eye out for us on her farm visits.
"Quite quickly she came back with a suggestion and I went to a farm cottage near Bassett. When I got there, just after dark, there, glinting in the moonlight, partly covered by a tarpaulin, was this lovely old tractor.
"I was smitten. It was the very same Nuffield model that I’d driven in my teens, helping with hay baling on fields across North Wiltshire.
"The friendly farmer said he had been meaning to do up the Nuffield to take to shows but hadn’t got round to it, so we agreed a price and it now has pride of place in the barn next to the parachute net and the swinging rope. The children absolutely love playing on it, so much so you have to ask those who get lost in their tractor-driving imaginings to come down and let others have a go."
Home educator Jody Hughes, who makes the pilgrimage from Pewsey each week to enjoy the Lower Shaw Farm coffee morning with other parents, said children don’t have such play opportunities elsewhere. "The experience of being able to sit on a real tractor seat, try to turn the wheel and smell the oil still on the engine is just amazing for the children. Nathanial, who is only two, drives the tractor home in the back of the car after every visit.
"The tractor in the barn just looks right at Lower Shaw Farm."