A vintage tractor enthusiast aims to build a £250,000 museum to house his collection at the Farm Cafe site on the A17 at Fleet.
Farm Cafe boss Bill Payne has been collecting and restoring tractors and other farm machinery for 25-30 years – many of which are kept in a head-turning display in his garden alongside the A17 /Winslowgate junction.
But he’s now looking to keep the 40-plus tractors in a more secure environment and welcome in the public to share his passion.
Bill’s collection is one of the biggest of its kind in the area.
He said: “I have a job to get them all inside during the winter.”
A fellow collector is willing to donate his small collection to the museum and another has agreed to lend ten vehicles to display there.
The museum will be set in three acres of gardens.
Bill said: “There’s quite a bit of interest in it. It’s a one off. I am just taking quite a gamble and I think it will work.”
Via the Farm and Cafe, Bill receives 200-300 requests a week from people who want to view the display of tractors and farm machinery in his garden.
Requests come in from individuals, families and coach parties.
Bill said: “The biggest problem is you can’t let people look round when you’re not there.
“We get a lot from America and a lot from India.”
Through his company, Hurnfield Hargate Ltd, Bill has submitted a planning application for the museum to South Holland District Council.
If planning consent is granted, the museum could be up and running by next spring.
He said: “The building won’t take long. It’s just getting the planning through.
“It’s a fairly big building. It will hold 100 tractors.”
As well as tractors, his collection includes hay wagons and wagons dating back to 1947, binders and reapers.
“I have got enough equipment to fill it,” he said.
His garden collection is covered by surveillance equipment.
The planning application says the museum will not be a stand-alone attraction, as it will be allied to the Farm Cafe business, and it is not “considered that the proposal will result in a great increase in traffic as the majority of persons stop to utilise the facilities of the cafe”.
Some farm machinery will be displayed so it’s visible from the A17, but the museum won’t have its own access to the main road.
The museum will share the Farm Cafe’s access, which is to be modified to make it safer.