Monday, June 20, 2022

Harry Ferguson Tractors

All photos courtesy of Unsplash 

Often innovators and visionaries are derided and mocked in their lifetime and it can take years before people see them in a different and more positive light. There is a commemorative stone on the promenade in the town of Newcastle in County Down, Northern Ireland dedicated to the memory of a creative and determined character by the name of Harry Ferguson. The name ‘Ferguson’ is for many agricultural workers and farmers associated with tractors and Harry Ferguson was the inventor of the “Little Grey Fergie” tractor.  Yet the engraved stone on the sea front at Newcastle says nothing about his tractors.

It was in 1909 that Harry Ferguson became the first person in Ireland to fly a plane.  It had never been done in that country before and he was to achieve fame for paving the way for others.  In Belfast he had spent time designing a monoplane and then devoted his energy and creative ability to building the plane and making sure that all parts worked.  Eventually when it was all assembled to his satisfaction it was towed to the estate of Lord Downshire in Hillsborough Park during December 1909.

At Hillsborough he wanted to demonstrate that his plane could fly and yet for the first week he was unable to do so because the weather was so bad and there was propeller trouble.  He spent time tinkering with his machine and continued with deep determination to make a flight before the end of the year. His friends advising him to wait for better weather conditions before attempting the flight but he was determined to test the plane before the year was out.  So on a snowy December day with fierce gusts of wind which made life hazardous for flights he made the attempt.  The plane lifted off and travelled all of 130 yards and so it was a successful flight but hardly seemed important.

Later a prize was offered of one hundred pounds to the first person to make a three mile flight and Harry was committed to gain that prize.  He made a number of attempts but all ended in failure and he was mocked and derided by many people, with others saying he could never achieve real flying.  In fact he was known to some as “Harry Ferguson Aviator on the Ground”, such was his failure rate. 

However, he overcame their mockery and the setbacks and on 8th August 1910 he took off from Dundrum Bay and flew up and over the famous Slieve Donard Hotel and kept going for three miles and landed safely.  He had not risen above 150 feet but he had achieved his ambition.  He won the prize and that stone  on the promenade marks his marvellous achievement.  Presumably the mockery ceased and he was credited with a very great achievement.

It maybe that we have been discouraged by disparaging remarks and mocking comments. Certainly Jesus was mocked and derided, especially as He went to the cross at Calvary. They said, “He saved other, let him save himself”  The soldiers mocked Him and tortured Him and yet His death on the cross was His greatest achievement and that was His purpose in coming to earth.  He came to save us from our sin and that meant death in all its awfulness.  That death was when He gathered up our sins and took the punishment we deserved and paid the price for sin.  If only we could grasp something of the love of Jesus and realise the enormity of what He has done for us.  It certainly eclipses Harry Ferguson’s achievement.  Harry’s pioneer work may have helped forward aviation and international travel but the work of Jesus reaches to everyone and anyone, whoever they are and wherever they may be.  He died to set us free from sin and to enjoy the glory, wonder and blessing of eternal life.  He can be our Friend, Saviour and Life-giver.

Messages with Meaning (18/06/22) Your542Day 
Written by PAUL YOUNG 

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