Baden Biggs, who is helping organise this weekend’s Nelson Vintage Engine and Machinery Club show, with the first tractor his father ever owned. Photo: Sara Hollyman.

Tractor show part of living history


Baden Biggs was just 14-years-old when his father purchased the first tractor for their working farm to replace the horse-drawn ploughs.

Now, 68 years later, Baden has the exact David Brown Cropmaster in his possession – fully restored and in near perfect condition.

Baden has 10 vintage machines in his shed, with his David Brown taking prime position among the nine Allis-Chalmers models, each one lovingly restored to working order.

His full collection will be on display at the Nelson Vintage Engine and Machinery Show at Higgins Heritage Park this weekend, which is celebrating 80 years of David Brown’.

Baden says his collection of vintage machinery began with a single plough.

“I got this plough that had a broken wheel, so I advertised on the Saturday morning buy, sell and exchange on the radio and by lunchtime I had three more ploughs and still no wheel, and that was the start of it really.”

As his collection began to grow, he started thinking about his Dad’s first tractor and decided to try to  find it.

“I knew the serial number, and I knew he had traded it in on a newer David Brown, but that’s it. We found the next owner of it but then the trail went cold.”

After years of searching, Baden had all but given up when, by word of mouth, he finally managed to track it to a paddock in Hope.

“It was in a sorry state, the engine was seized and full of water, the bonnet looked like it had been used as a trampoline and was basically inside out, it was just a mess,” he says.

Little by little, with a lot of love, and a fair chunk of cash, Baden put the Cropmaster back together, and this week he will drive it to Pigeon Valley to proudly display it as one of the 30 David Browns in the show.

Baden became a member of the Nelson Vintage Engine and Machinery Club about 30 years ago and has been busy organising this year’s event which promises to be something special.

He says the rarest item on display will be a 1918 Ruggles and Parsons tractor, of which there are only three working models in the entire world, all of which belong to the top half of the South Island of New Zealand.

Entry to this weekend’s event is just $5 with children under 14 free of charge. Live demonstrations of hay making, general machinery duties and trailer rides for the kids are sure to keep the whole family entertained.