We have just returned from a holiday on the island of Malta garnering in a bit of sun on our backs before the winter sets in - it's hailing as I write.
Malta is a very small island with very small fields - maybe average 2 acres - and surrounded by stone limestone walls. It has almost a 6 month dry season which is just drawing to an end so there was almost no field work going on. Maybe maximum 5% of the land irrigated for mostly vegetables and a bit of fruit. So there was almost no on going tractor work and what bit there was I could only see from a distance.
We called on the MF Malta dealer in Burmarrad - Bonnici Stores and had a long chat with the most amicable Godfrey Bonnici. He told us that MFs make up some 90% of the tractor population and there are still a large number of MF 100 and 200 series tractors working. Indeed most of those I did see later were either 135s or 165s all in very good original order. I was told that there are few new tractor sales other than when a subsidy is made available to purchase them.
Bonnici are a relatively recent MF dealership and Godfrey didn't know if there had ever been an MH or Ferguson agency in earlier times. They had only been associated with MF for about 20 years. However he knew that there were about 6 grey Fergusons still working in the Mostar area but had never heard of any MH tractors. I didn't manage to spot any of these
A few days later we were in a small tavern - the Cuckoo's nest - having lunch. The owner was 88 year old Mr Roger Tonna. I started to tell him how I was looking for old tractors and he immediately told me of how he was born in Toronto his father having worked for Massey-Harris in the 1920s. They returned to Malta in the late 20s and his father brought two MH tractors acrosss with him. He had no recollection of which model but I can only conclude that at this time they must have been MH 12-20s. Anyway his father used the tractors then later sold one. Soon the new owner drove it over a cliff into the sea and it took 3 days to recover it!!!! I thought that this was a lovely and fascinating story which we only chanced upon beacuse we had to seek cover when a heavy short storm hit us whilst out walking.
The MF treasure I really fell for was this MF manhole cover. I seriously wanted it for my memorabilia collection but it was clearly not to be - one can't just go around leaving holes in the road!! I tried a scrap yard but only found a single broken one. There is also a poor shot of an MF tractor taken at a distance at dusk in small town, but I can't discern the model number on it.
All in all a lovely little island with a wealth of history and sizeable archealogical remains going back to about 4000 BC.