Ballynure vintage rural machinery collector was respected all over the UK

The rural heritage community lost one of its leading enthusiasts with the death last month of James Hill, from Fairhill, Ballynure, Co Antrim.

Thursday, 21st May 2020, 5:55 pm
James Hill.
James Hill.

Mr Hill, 86, was not only a familiar figure in his native east Antrim, he was a very popular one on the vintage agricultural machinery circuit across the UK.

James was born on November 3, 1933 in Whitehead, the only son of Robert John and Mary Hill, nee Morrow, of Carnalbanagh.

He had a step-brother, Thomas and a step-sister, Mary, as well as a huge number of cousins from a large extended family on his mother’s side.

He came to live on the farm at the Fairhill in Ballynure, the original site of the Ballyclare May Fair, when he was 11. The farm had been the Hill family home until it was sold by his grandfather around 1910 and subsequently bought back by James’s father in 1944.

James attended Ballynure Primary School and grew up to run the family farm for the rest of his life.

He was responsible for the mechanisation of the farm when he bought a grey Ferguson tractor, consigning the horse to the history books.

He further invested in the farm purchasing the modern hay-making machinery of the day, cutting and baling hay for a number of his neighbours.

This was an element of James’s life which was later to become his hobby as he developed a keen interest in all types of old agricultural machinery.

He became an avid collector of vintage tractors, old farming tools and memorabilia.

His favourite pieces were his collection of cast iron tractor seats. He was a member of the Cast Iron Seat Society, and had an encyclopaedic knowledge of all sorts of old farm machinery.

He was joined in this passion by his late wife Jean, who along with him travelled all of the British Isles displaying pieces from his collections and building up a large network of great friends who shared his passion.

James passed away on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 having been ill for some time and was laid to rest in Ballyclare Cemetery.

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