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World record threshing attempt for Pearse pageant


World record threshing attempt for Pearse centenary pageant

An attempt on a world steam threshing record will be made in Timaru later this month in conjunction with the Richard Pearse centenary air pageant.

The South Canterbury Traction Engine Club will try and create a world record by having 13 threshing mills driven by 13 traction engines threshing sheaves of oats at the same time.

This year is the centenary of threshing in the region for legendary threshing and hauling contractor Bill Clarke. The threshers were used for thrashing grain.

Central South Island Tourism spokesman Philip Brownie said the WJ Clarke Memorial Steam Rally will be held in conjunction with the Pearse air show at Timaru Airport on March 29 and 30. The world record will be attempted on both days.

Air pageant celebrations will be continue on March 31 at Waitohi, north of Timaru, where Pearse may have been the first person in the world to achieve powered take off in his bamboo-framed home-built aircraft.

The March 31 activities are believed to be 100 years to the day that Pearse arguably became the first man to fly an aircraft --- nine months before the Wright brothers flew Kittyhawk in the United States. Two Pearse aircraft replicas will be on display at the pageant.

Mr Brownie said the threshing steam rally will be of huge international interest.

``Manufacturers of English threshing machinery considered Bill (WJ) Clarke to be one of the biggest threshing contractors in the world.

``This rally will be a tribute to his part in the development of South Canterbury.''

Brent Winter, vice-president of the South Canterbury Traction Engine Club, said Bill Clarke was a major employer in South Canterbury.

``He had 150 men working for him and spent his working life time harvesting the golden grain,'' Mr Winter said.

``We will have 50 vintage tractors, 30 traction engines,15 threshing mills three old wool wagons which will be loaded with 90 bales of wool re-creating the old days. We're doing all this to support the South Canterbury Aviation Heritage Centre. Proceeds from the weekend will go to their museum.''

The engine club has already contacted the Guinness Book of Records authority which has consented to their attempt on a world record.

The centenary event will also include a comprehensive display of military vehicles, guns and equipment from the World War 2 era provided by the New Zealand Warhorse Association.

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