A BERWICK St James grandfather with a passion for vintage tractors has been restoring the machines to their former glory.

Cyril Emm says his interest in farm machinery was sparked from an early age and has never left him.

But his real love is for Allis Chalmer tractors.

The 88-year-old’s first job was working for Joe Waters in Broadchalke before becoming a tractor and combine driver for H D Coles.

He later moved to Berwick St James in 1954 and was employed by George Street as a tractor and combine driver before being promoted to farm foreman until his retirement in 1995. But even after his retirement he continued to do work for the farm.

He has been working with tractors and combines for 70 years.

Mr Emm said: “I’m an Allis Chalmer’s man. I have been driving them ever since I was 11-years-old. They are very special tractors to me.”

Since buying his first tractor in 1982 he has restored about nine Allis Chalmer machines.

The latest to be restored were an Allis Chalmers 20-35 model, which dates back to the 1920s and a Model U from 1941.

He said: “[I enjoy] seeing them finished and just restoring them and bringing them back to life again. It’s hard work but I enjoyed doing it.”

His grandsons, Jeremy and Simon Pratt, saw the tractors on Ebay and thought it would be perfect projects for their grandfather, who was struggling with the loss of his wife Joanna who died in 2014.

The couple had been married for 66 years.

“After I lost my wife I really went downhill. It [restoring the tractor] helped me tremendously,” said Mr Emm.

“It took me the best part of two years [to complete the Model U]. That was not quite so bad as the 20-35 model. I still had to strip it right down and have it shot blasted and painted again.”

The restoration of the 20-35 model proved a challenge for Mr Emm who described it as a “heap of rust” before he started and says he was determined to complete it.

No manuals were used, instead Mr Emm relied on his years of experience fixing farm machinery. He said: “I’ve been with them all my life so I know the ins and outs. I did all the repairs for the farm.”

Mr Emm says he has plenty of support from family, including his grandsons and sons Tony and Ronald, friends and the local community who have helped him.

A friend helped him to source parts.

Mr Emm has thanked everyone who has helped him to complete his restoration projects.

Explaining what he loves most about Allis Chalmers tractors, he said: “[They are] just a completely reliable tractor and the tone and sound of them just gets through to you.When it starts up its beautiful.”

When asked if he had plans to restore any more tractors, he replied: “No, I hope not anyway but you never know.”