Members of Boroughbridge Young Farmers have been the first to visit the new museum celebrating the history of a North Yorkshire engineering business, whose roots are firmly planted in the agricultural industry.
To tell the story, Econ Engineering – best known for its gritters, seen across the UK – has curated a fascinating collection of historic vehicles and farming implements, which take visitors on a 60-plus year journey right through to the modern day.
In 1959 – a decade before the launch of Econ Engineering – its founder Bill Lupton created the world’s first side-mounted hedger, the Lupat Hedge Cutter, which was manufactured and hand built in Otley.
After a full day’s work on the farm, Bill, the son of Otley famers and a member of Otley Young Farmers, learnt that once plated, welding could be done in the dark and this was how the company started.
Fast forward 63 years, and an original Lupat Hedge Cutter, mounted on a Massey Fergusson 35 tractor from the era, is one of the museum’s star attractions, sitting alongside a variety of exhibits, including:
– 1960 Agriquipment / Lupat Verge Trimmer, fitted to a Fordson Super Major tractor. In 1961, the hedger/mower won the Silver Medal at the Royal Show in Cambridge for New Implement
– 1976 Econ/Lupat Hedgemaker, manufactured in Ripon and fitted to a 1968 Ford (Pre-Force) tractor
– 1983 David Brown 1490 – Hydrashift tractor fitted with the Econ Hedgemaster 2, manufactured in Ripon in 1983
– 1986 Bedford CF Van – the vehicle of choice for Service Engineers
– 1993 Mercedes Benz 1717 4×4, which was purchased by London Borough of Bromley environmental services and fitted with the Econ gritter
Jonathan Lupton, Econ Engineering’s Managing Director, son of founder Bill Lupton, and for many years a member of Winksley cum Grantley Young Farmers, said: “Like my father, I have a passion for farming, and finding and restoring implements designed and made by him has become a passion, not only for me, but also for members of the wider Econ team.
“We were both of Young Famers’ Clubs, and it’s somewhat fitting that the first visitors to our new museum, celebrating our history, are members of Boroughbridge Young Farmers.
“Long after we had sold the agricultural business, I found an original Lupat Hedge Cutter, in a yard in a very sorry state. We refurbishing it and managed to track down an original Massey Ferguson 35 which was typical of the era.”
He added: “Since then the collection has grown, and we have now made space within the heart of our Ripon headquarters for the museum which celebrates Bill Lupton’s, and thus Econ’s, story, via a series of story boards and of course the exhibits themselves.
“As well as being on display in Ripon, we take certain exhibits to various shows, including Masham Steam Rally, Hunton Steam Rally and Tractor Fest at Newby Hall, where they always get plenty of attention.”