We last visited the Easton Collection in our inaugural year of the Fens Vintage website in 2003 with the Bourne Bygones Club, but in 2006, we were part of a large group from the East Anglia Group of NVTEC. Gordon's collection can be described as all-encompassing covering horse drawn carts and implements, stationary engines, tractors, cars, lorries, gypsy and living vans, bygones, even a WWII jeep and associated memorabilia.
It is obvious that his first love is for the beautifully painted horse-drawn farm wagons and gypsy caravans that form a significant part of the collection. Many of the former are local to the Fenland area as one can see from the brightly painted headboards displaying their former and current owners' details. Deep in the workshop was a very old living van nearly completed in its restoration and this should be out at Casterton in September. Elsewhere on the site are examples of bow-top and Reading-style wagons, all superbly restored, together with various small carts, traps and gigs.
The vehicle collection comprises a number of cars including a Vauxhall Victor, Rover, Ford model Y and Trabant, plus examples of 1930s Morris Commercial and 1960s BMC lorries, together with the afore-mentioned Jeep. There are a lot of tractors dotted about around the sheds including Caterpillar D2, International crawler, Case, Nuffield 4/60, Fordson Major, water-washer Standard Ford, a trio of John Deeres, Field Marshall Series I, II & III, David Brown Cropmaster & 2D.
His second love is Ferguson tractors, and he has a collection to be proud of, so much so, that he's putting on a display at the National Tractor Show at the East of England Showground over the first weekend of November. This will show every model from the Ferguson Brown, through Ford Fergusons, Standard-built Ferguson TE20s, Massey Ferguson 35 to the Red Giants series as seen at the Holbeach Vintage rally. In addition, there are a wide variety of Ferguson implements on display.
At present, most of his stationary engine collection is in storage pending negotiations to acquire a bit of land to enable another exhibition building to be added, but there were a few dotted around including a Fairbanks Morse, National gas engine and Ruston Hornsby. There were various types of chaff cutters (not surprising given his love of horses), cattle cake mills, root cutters and a corn mill made by the local firm of Barford & Perkins of Peterborough.
There is just too much to look at when part of a large group, and we did not fully appreciate the diversity of the collection on our first visit. There is a massive collection of old farming tools in one of the sheds, and the portacabin contains an enormous collection of domestic, agricultural and industrial bygones, together with a couple of streets of miniature shops. Still to come out of storage is a large collection of harmoniums, part of the late Music Museum at Whaplode.
When we last visited in the Spring of 2003, the rally season had not started and the Burrell Special Scenic Showmen's engine "Dragon", Pride of the Fens was in residence. This was a real treat for us as we were all invited on to the footplate for that unique viewpoint. Sadly, the engine was in-between events being on its way from Weeting to the Wood Green Steam Rally so we could not repeat the experience this time. Although not owned by the Easton family, if she is in residence when you visit, she is the crowning glory to what is a remarkable visit. See it if you can.