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Ploughing, Drage and Kent 1950

by | Mar 26, 2016 | At Work, Farms and farming, water water everywhere | 4 comments

drage and kent engine

Three more photographs of Drage and Kent engines in work. The largest photo below was taken in 1950 and the gentleman standing on the left is Charles Cranwell who can also be seen on the 1917 photograph here where you can also see an excellent film showing how this ploughing was done.  In the picture below you can just see the engine at the further end of the field that is pulling this plough towards it.

A memory from Alf Goodwin who worked with the Ashdon Steam Engines is that when you sat on the plough and were in the middle of the field you couldn’t hear either of the engines.  All you could hear was the plough moving through the soil.

I have similarly heard it said of Ashdon that, there being no traffic around in those days, when the plough teams were going out in the mornings with the horses to plough, they would call to one another across the fields.  I’m sure it was the same in Chrishall and evokes a lovely picture – although having to walk 11 miles to every acre behind a horse team, it couldn’t be said to be a restful life!

Back to the steam engines: each “set” of engines had two drivers, a plough boy or second man, a foreman and a cook boy.  You can hear one of the “cook boys” here.  Drage and Kent would have had several sets of engines at work on different farms in the area.  The farmers supplied all the coal and water for the engines while they were on their farm.

Drage and Kent had ploughs, cultivators, harrows and mole drainers.  Peak work time for the engines was between harvest and Christmas.  Then the engines came in for maintenance until around March time the following year.

Drages also had threshing engines, as well as road haulage and steam lorries.

Others on these pictures have yet to be named so if you know who they are please let us know!

These photographs are kindly permitted to be published by Clive Flack and are part of The Charles Roads Collection.  Copyright is with Clive Flack.

Ploughing at Drage and Kent 1950

Drage & Kent chrishall  Drage & Kent Chrishall







D: 1950 C: 20th Century




  1. Mandy Dyer

    My dad, Claude Dyer worked for Drage and Kent most of his working life. He cycled everyday from Elmdon to Chrishall except in bad weather. Sadly he died 3 weeks ago, age 88 years old. As far as I know there are now no surviving people who worked for them.

    • Rosemarie Gant

      Hello Mandy. Thank you for letting us know about your dad and so sorry for your loss. Yes I think he must have been the last one surviving who worked for Drage and Kent. Really the end of an era. It plays with the imagination to think of him cycling and then having to do all that heavy work before cycling home again – quite a working day! If you have any other stories to share do get in touch as we would love to hear more. Best wishes.

  2. Tom drage

    This is lovely seeing all these old pictures of the men and machines that worked the land. I wish there was still some of the old boys left alive to speak with about the work and the company. If anyone has anymore information about the company and engines I would love to hear more about it and more information of my great grandparents

    Kind regards

    Tom Drage

    • R Loveday

      My grandfather was Fred Oyston worked for Drage and Kent for many years driving the traction engines. He was married to Jessie nee Downham whose mother (who sadly died when giving birth) was Jessie Emily Drage.
      I think that means we are related.


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