James Joseph Magennis VC Frances Elizabeth Clarke Stewart Parker Samuel Beckett Sam Hanna Bell William Carleton John Hewitt Rosamond Praegar Bernard (Barney) Hughes

Henry George Ferguson (1884 - 1960):
Engineer


Ferguson was born on his family's farm at Growell, near Dromore, County Down on 4 November 1884. While still in his teens he entered his brother Joe's car and cycle repair business in Belfast as an apprentice, but had soon developed a motor cycle and racing car of his own. On 31 December 1909 he made the first powered flight in Ireland in a machine of his own design, flying from Dundrum to Newcastle, County Down; this is commemorated by a memorial at Hillsborough lake. In 1911 he opened his own car business in May Street, Belfast, later moving to Donegall Square East.

In 1914 he began to sell American tractors but, finding them heavy and dangerous to operate, he designed and built a new plough which was coupled to the tractor in three-point linkage, so that both formed a single unit. This Ferguson System, patented in 1926, was to revolutionise farming.

In 1936 he started manufacturing his own tractors, but three years later entered into partnership with Henry Ford; over 300,000 of the new Ford Ferguson tractors were made. Following a lawsuit with Ford's grandson, the partnership was dissolved in 1947.

Ferguson went on to design a light-weight tractor, the TC-20, or "Wee Fergie", which was assembled by Standard Motor Company of Coventry; about half a million of these were made. He later entered another stormy partnership, this time with Massey-Harris of Toronto, to form the Massey-Ferguson Company.

All his life he promoted motor cycle and car racing; his efforts led to the Motor Vehicles Races Act (Northern Ireland) 1922, which made possible the first Ulster Grand Prix. He also lobbied the R.A.C. to organise the famous Tourist Trophy motor cycle races (1928-36). In later life he applied himself to the design of four-wheel-drive cars.

He died in Stow-on-the Wold on 25 October 1960.



Born: 4 November 1884
Died: 25 October 1960
Patrick Devlin