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Iron Horses Still Going Strong Are George’s Passion

Published on: 21 Mar, 2013
Updated on: 21 Mar, 2013

By David Rose

Retired engineer George Holt loves horses – vintage two-wheeled petrol-driven iron horse tractors to be precise!

George Holt with some of his iron horse tractor pictures albums, rosettes and Guinness World Record certificate.

George Holt with some of his iron horse tractor picture albums, rosettes and the all-important Guinness World Record certificate.

They were designed  for use on small farms and were built between 1939 and 1958. Today they are keenly sought after, not only for ploughing small acreages, but can be used for many other small jobs including harrowing, rolling, seeding and carting loads.

Many enthusiasts, who discover them, restore them and then enter them in very competitive ploughing matches or show them at static displays.

He started the George Holt’s Iron Horse Tractor Group in 2005 with eight vintage machines, which, at the time, were very difficult to locate.

In 2012, George was awarded the Guinness World Record for bringing together 23 of these tractors; and following the strict rules of the Society of Ploughmen, had them all ploughing together simultaneously for five minutes.

The record was achieved at the annual Chertsey ploughing match held at Wey Manor Farm, New Haw. George, who lives in Guildford, is very proud of the record that was achieved. At the time he said: “I was over the moon. No-one has attempted this before and I called the Guinness World Records who told me it would cost up to £4,000 for them to record the attempt. They said alternatively I could do it myself, so I did.

“It’s expensive breaking records, but you’ve got to have an aim, especially when you’re retired. People say ‘You do too much, George,’ but I don’t.”


Competitors at the 2006 iron horse championship.

The iron horse tractors that fascinate George were made by the British Anzani Engineering Company, who, before the Second World War, was based in London Road, Kingston upon Thames.


Mike Powell from Hereford taking part in the 2007 championship.

George, who had a extremely varied career in engineering (and was the first person to introduce motorised go-karts to the UK) worked for the Anzani Engineering Company for a while. Although he doesn’t own an iron horse himself, he is passionate about them and loves organising the annual rally to which ploughmen and visitors travel from as far away as Scotland and Ireland.

Does anyone know the name of the man in the centre and the one on the right?

Does anyone know the name of the man in the centre and the one on the right?

In fact, George has been involved with ploughing matches for many years. He has some snap shots of an event held in the Guildford area in 1948 that he organised. The winner’s cup was presented by Lord and Lady Hamilton. The names of most all those featured in the photos have long been forgotten, and George would love to hear from anyone who may recognise someone. In the photo (reproduced above) of three men, one holding the cup, the man on the left is known to be Eddie May. He was the father of a Mrs Hankin, a Guildford resident. Eddie was 39 years old at the time the photo was taken. He died aged 83 in 1992. He worked for T. H. White, Warren Farm, Guildford, which eventually became Burwood Farm.

Lord and Lady Hamilton presenting the prizes at the 1948 ploughing match.

Lord and Lady Hamilton presenting the prizes at the 1948 ploughing match.

Ploughing in progress, 1948.

Ploughing in progress, 1948.

Jeep towing a trailer in which there is an iron horse tractor. The date is 1948.

Jeep towing a trailer in which there is an iron horse tractor. The date is 1948.

If you recognise anyone else, do give George a call on 01483 577792. He’d love to talk to you, and besides, he’s a fascinating chap! Or send him an email to or to

Here re some more picture of iron horse tractors at work at the ploughing matches George has been involved with in recent years.


Leanna-Marie Parkin was the iron horse group’s first female ‘ploughperson’, seen here at the 2008 championship.



The first ploughing match of the vintage iron horse tractors organised by George Holt in memory of their designer and manufacturer Charles Harrison.


Shane Parry finishes the headland at Merrist Wood in 2010.


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Responses to Iron Horses Still Going Strong Are George’s Passion

  1. Christopher Doran Reply

    May 25, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Too anyone who may be interested my mother has recently moved to a new proerty and on inspection of the garden we discovered and old british Anzani iron workhorse tucked away in one of the bottom corners.

    It seems to be fully intact abeit a tad rusty, and basically she is looking to have it removed in principle.

    After doing some research I was delighted to discover the huge amount of history this machine seems to have in Britain and basically I believe that it should go to someone who has a great interest in agricultrual machines/history.

    Therefore I have been searching about for people /companies, etc, to come have a look at the iron horse and possibly make a fair offer too my mother for it.

    Obviously considering the history this machine appears to have, I am keen for it to go to a keen enthusiast and someone who may restore it back to its former glory so that a piece of history may not be lost to a scrap heap.

    Anyone who wishes to ask further questions or get in contact about this machine can email me with questions/contact details and i will do my best to answer any questions and/or organise for a veiwing of the machine.

    Christopher Doran at

  2. Svein-Olav Elvegaard Reply

    July 4, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    I have a such machine. It has been in my family for almost 60 years and I have been driving the “Iron Horse” since I was six-years-old.

    The tractor is still running and has been carefully maintained, but does now need some refurbishment.

    I would very much like to be in contact with people who know about these machines. I would particularly like to decipher the text printed in the blue oval decal, placed on to bonnet at driver’s side (just over the gearstick and bonnet support). This decal was not fitted on earlier machines. Mine is a 1956 model.

  3. Neil Fulwood Reply

    October 18, 2015 at 5:21 am

    I live in Australia and I have an Iron Horse tractor which I purchased second hand in approximately 1962, and have had ever since. It still starts perfectly and runs well, although the engine is a little smokey, but it is no longer used regularly.

    I keep it now as a hobby and for my own amusement and sentimentality. I bought it when I was about 20 years old and my family had a small farm holding at my home town of Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills. I have a plough and cultivator toolbar, and years ago used it extensively for ploughing.

    I also built a trailer for it and used to cart quite large loads of bales of hay from the paddock to the hay shed. I don’t know how many Iron Horses were sold in Australia, but they seem to be very rare here now. I estimate that mine is probably a mid-1940’s model, as the JAP engine is a 1929-1949 series according to the engine number.

  4. Justin Graham Reply

    May 28, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    I have two iron horses, both are in a rather rusty condition but I have them both running now.

    I think they are roughly the same age and seem to be early ones.

    I bought my first one two years ago and bought the second about a month ago. I now have it running and I have tried to plough with the first.

    They are not easy to work, but I’m only 30 so I have plenty of years to get the hang of them.

    I live in Aberdeenshire.

  5. Terence Lonergan Reply

    May 13, 2020 at 9:33 pm

    I have an iron horse and worked it for 30+ years in a large garden I have restored it but at the minute I need a magneto, it hasn’t run in about six years due to other commitments. I would like to get my hands on another one and show them.

    I have been to the Chertsey show a few times and have met with George, he’s a gentleman, and his lady wife. I even received a rossette on one occasion, I think 2012.

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