This club has grown to what it is today because of the Late Norman Brayshaw who was a visionary & who has left a legacy for future generations to enjoy. Norm could see the machines that our pioneers used were being lost to future generations. During the 1960’s he started collecting anything vaguely agricultural & so began what is now known as “The Marlborough Vintage & Farm Machinery Society Inc”. Norm Brayshaw was more than a collector of rusty & broken down farm machinery, among his achievements was the establishment of the “Marlborough Archives”, which for many years were housed in a tin shed behind his own house in Blenheim. He was also instrumental in establishing museums in the surrounding townships of Renwick, Havelock & Picton.
Norm’s commitment to the provincial history of Marlborough was recognised in 1975 by being awarded the British Empire Medal.
In 1965 Norman Brayshaw formed the Marlborough Vintage Farm Machinery Society & leased land from the Marlborough Catchment Board in November 1968. Prior to this & for a long period of time the site was used by the Blenheim Borough Council as a rubbish dump. To the East of the dump was a site used for saw milling operations which was for a good period of the time occupied by Musgroves. An area adjacent to this & close to the Taylor River was the Borough Council’s gravel screening, crushing plant & stock piling areas.
Parts of the original lease were sub leased in 1969 to the Marlborough Associated Modelers Society & to the Marlborough Branch of the Vintage Car Club.
The Park was officially opened on the 25th September 1971 by Mr. Bill Chisholm, who was at the time manager of Molesworth Station, from where much of the vintage machinery in the park had been donated.
In 1972 a further area was sub-leased to the Marlborough Historical Society.
The whole park with all of it’s clubs & organisations which now number twelve are part of the Brayshaw Heritage Park.
The Marlborough Vintage & Farm Machinery Society now occupies a 12 acre (5 Hectares) site at Brayshaw heritage Park comprising over twenty sheds, some of which are still the original sheds. These sheds contain a collection of farm machinery, horse drawn equipment, tractors, stationary engines & memorabilia mainly from the Marlborough area.
In the beginning Norm would tow various bits of machinery to the park from farmyards with his old car. Money was very tight & so when a machine was to be collected or recovered the members would have a whip round to fund the cost of the recovery.
In later years Ralph Denton, a retired farmer, bequeathed a large sum of money from the sale of his property to establish a museum to house these restored tractors. This building has been named The Denton Building in his honor.
In more recent years the Society has formed the “Square Meter Club”. Letters were written to farmers, local business’s & other interested parties inviting them to join the Square Meter Club where they could donate $330 to contribute to one square meter of a proposed new building which will be used to further house machines & displays as they are finished.
Visitors come from all over the world to see this collection which is one of the largest publicly owned displays in the southern hemisphere & incorporating some extremely rare machines. The geographical isolation of New Zealand meant that machines were not melted down for the war effort & the often dry climate helped with their preservation even if they were left parked under a tree.
This horse drawn Cuthbert Harvester is one of the oldest machines at MVFMS.It was imported by Mr.H Redwood of Waimea Plain, Nelson in 1855 & then shipped to his son’s property in Blenheim before being sold to Mr. G Rutland of Jackson’s Rd, Blenheim in 1866. Here it was used on his farm until 1869 when it was shipped to his Pelorus Valley property where it was in use until 1891.