The family of one of the founder members of the South Hams Vintage Machinery Club is honouring his memory by taking his ‘pride and joy’ to Dorset Steam Fair.
Sid’s ‘pride and joy’, is ‘Lorna’, a steam engine built in 1909 and acquired by the Hosking family in 1986. They set about a major rebuild after the annual boiler inspection condemned her on the first test.
Technically known as a ‘Marshall 7nhp (nominal horse power) Compound Traction Engine’, weighing 12 tonnes, with compound twin cylinders, fuelled by coal and travelling at 2.5 miles an hour, Lorna is a working engine and has currently undergone her annual boiler inspection and other work.
Allan Hosking hopes to have her ready in time to show her at the 50th anniversary of the Great Dorset Steam Fair in August this year, in memory of his father.
As a child, Sid walked to South Milton Primary School from the farm in South Huish and finished his education at what was then Kingsbridge Grammar School.
Pat Nettleton, a friend of the family, said: “A happy, contented man, summing up Sid is a difficult task.
“He was a master of so many skills, carpenter and joiner, engineer, plumber, farmer, builder, wheelwright, cartwright, successful businessman were just a few of those talents. He always had an eye open for an opportunity and a love for restoring vintage farm machinery.”
Sid’s practical skills started at an early age when he took it upon himself to maintain the family farmhouse and buildings at Holwell Farm, South Huish.
He took on jobs like replacing slates, mending gutters and repairing stairs. Sid’s father, Herbert, was more than happy to let him fulfil his role, as he was not practical himself.
Sid was not so enthused with the animal side of the dairy farm, but made up for it with his love of machinery. At an early age, before leaving school, he would be busy on the farm, driving the tractor, ploughing, working ground and helping with the hay harvest.
His mechanical skills started at an early age, when he got his first car, an Austin 10 Taxi. Whenever his father could not start his own car, he would take Sid’s car; so Sid would mend his father’s car and get it running again.
On leaving school, the family farm could not support another worker, so Sid started an apprenticeship, as a carpenter, with Scobles who were then based in Wallingford Road, Kingsbridge.
National Service in the RAF followed. Never one to be afraid to bend the rules a little, Sid had to fill in a form to name his trade. He put down ‘engineer’, as he thought he could usefully learn another trade. He went onto to become a skilled engineer.
Sid met his future wife, Jean, at a Young Farmers in Modbury. In order to provide for his new bride, he bought a small field at Smallacombe and set about building a home, their love nest. This work was carried out in his spare time and when he could save up enough money to buy materials.
Sid’s philosophy in life was never to do anything he could not afford to pay for.
Sid and Jean went on to have three children: Susan, Julie and Allan, four grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
Sid and Jean were a real partnership and worked side by side throughout their married life. Jean helped Sid with the business and his hobbies of collecting vintage tractors, wagons and steam engines and in turn, Sid helped Jean with transporting and showing her prize winning Shire Horses. Their son, Allan, describes as “their hearts beating as one.”
Sid set up the sawmills at Smallacombe in 1958 and later, with his family, built up the thriving business it is today, now run by his son, Allan.
His love for wood showed in everything he did. “You can’t rush wood”, he used to say. “It took a hundred years to grow and we need to treat it with respect.”
Sid’s theory of “old things never wear out, as long as you treat them right”, was put to good use in his love of vintage machinery. He amassed an amazing collection of wartime tractors, carts, wagons, farm machinery and his 109-year old steam engine, Lorna. All lovingly restored by Sid and his son.
Sid’s love of vintage machinery meant that he got together with like-minded friends to show off their precious collections. They met at Smallacombe, with Jean making teas from her caravan.
This passion gave rise to Sid teaming up with best friend, Gerry Weymouth, to set up the South Hams Vintage Machinery Club in 1974. He chaired it for 18 years. Since then, the club has gone from strength to strength, holding an annual two-day working rally at Sorley Cross.
These rallies and shows were, for Sid, Jean and the children, their holidays. Sid and Gerry travelled all over the West Country, competing in ploughing competitions and they won many trophies.
Right up to his early 80’s, Sid Hosking continued to ply his trade. He restored his father’s Olive 80 tractor and rebuilt and completed a 1920’s Cornish road wagon. Latterly, in his spare time, he made benches and wheelbarrows.
The funeral service last year, at South Milton Church, was packed with family, friends, customers and colleagues. A man, truly content with his lot.