The First Barvas Tractor

The First Barvas TractorJohn Angus Matheson (John Angus Chalum ’an Chaluim), 49 Lower Barvas, was the first Barvas or Brue crofter to buy his own tractor, when, in 1945, he bought a Fordson Major similar to the one in the picture opposite.

This iron-wheeled tractor was difficult to use. It was unsuitable for croft or peat work as the iron wheels coupled with its weight broke up the soil surface and made it prone to becoming bogged down. A superhuman recovery task was then required – especially as there were no other tractors to tow it out!

Similar types of tractors had been introduced to the island to work on the building of Stornoway airport in 1942.

In 1946, John Angus sold his Fordson Major to John Paterson, Thule Farm, Ness and in 1947 bought a two-wheeled B.M.B tractor which he soon sold to Donald M MacLeod (Dòmhnall Chalum Choinnich Arnoil), 37 Lower Barvas.

In 1951 John Angus bought his first petrol Ferguson tractor which he sold to Robert MacNinch, Manor Farm in 1955. By that time a handful of other local crofters had purchased their own tractors. Those included (with approximate dates):

(1950) Angus John Morrison (Am Mileachan), 7 Heatherhill.
(1952) Peter MacDonald (Pàdraig ’an Stagar), ‘Sunnybrae’, Park.
(1952) Charles MacDonald (Teàrlach Uilleam Aonghais Chailein), ‘Rock Villa’, Lower Barvas.
(1953) Donald John MacMillan (Dòmhnall Iain Aonghas ’an Bhàin, ‘Warrior’), 36 Lower Barvas.
(1953) John Paterson (Iain Thòsaidh), 20 Brue.
(1958) Angus John MacRitchie (Aonghas Iain Dhòmhnall ’an Fhionnlaigh).
(1958) John Murdo Kerr (John Murdo Mhòrag na Tròcair, ‘Mercy’), 11 Upper Barvas.

The Fordson Major which John Angus bought in 1945 cost about £225 new and the Ferguson petrol, £350 in 1951. After paying £40 each for a plough and harrows and with a hand-operated screw-tipping trailer, John Angus started to introduce tractor power and technology to Barvas and Brue crofts.

We hope to find out more about this era. If you have more information on this subject or pictures please post or email them to the Comann Eachdraidh..

John Angus and his sister Chirsty Mary John Angus and his sister Chirsty Mary with his Ferguson petrol tractor and trailer at 5 Ballantrushal. The cab was made by John Angus.

Outside “Seada Sandaidh” in pre-cab days Outside “Seada Sandaidh” in pre-cab days (and pre-electric era – see paraffin tank by the wall to supply Tilley lamps etc). John Angus in driving seat; Chirsty Maggie MacMillan (Curstaidh Magaidh Aonghas ’an Bhàin), 6 Park.

Sitting behind John Angus on the tractor mudguard is John MacDonald, “Seonaidh Buidhe”, Monard Villa, Lower Barvas; on the engine cover are Peter Matheson (Pàdraig Dhòmhnaill Mòraig), 41 Lower Barvas (with cap) and Alasdair MacRitchie (Alasdair Iain Dhòmhnall ’ic Risnidh), 17 Loch Street and Glasgow.