On 24th June 1898, Ernest Doe signed a lease agreement for the blacksmiths
shop at Ulting, near Maldon in Essex.
From this modest beginning of shoeing horses and repairing implements,
the name Ernest Doe has spread throughout the South East of England
starting with two employees and growing to 500 in 2002.
1908 L.Atkins, J.Wybrew, J.Havis,
H.Warren, C.Partridge, Ernest Doe
started well, since by 1910 Ernest Doe not only bought the freehold
of the blacksmiths and built a new house (Hill View) next to
the smithy, he also bought the neighbouring farm.
In 1920, after the war, the business spurted again when Ernest Doe
Jnr (Ernie), persuaded his father to buy a number of the tractors
being sold off by the Ministry of Munitions. This was the start of
the tractor business.
One of the first agencies the firm held was for Case tractors, but
they also began to sell Fordson tractors which were purchased from
the local Ford dealer. In 1930, the firm became a Fordson dealer in
its own right, purchasing tractors directly from Dagenham, and in
1934 Allis-Chalmers was added to the list of tractor agencies.
Unfortunately, the founder, Ernest Doe, fell ill in 1936 and the following
year it was decided to form a partnership comprising; Ernest Doe Snr,
Ernest Doe Jnr (Ernie) and Herbert Doe (Bert).
By 1939, the firm had a substantial industrial contracting business
and Bert ran this whilst Ernie looked after the agricultural side.
Hugh Doe, brother of Ernie and Bert, was a full time farmer.
Also in this year, Ernie had a successful meeting with Ransomes and
the firm was appointed as a dealer for tractor implements horse
drawn implements being specifically excluded!
It was realised that home grown food production would
be critical to the war effort and each county had a War Agricultural
Committee whose responsibility it was to carry out the governments
directive that every acre should be put under the plough.
Tractors ready for War
In Essex, 25 Fordson tractors and Ransomes ploughs were made available
to assist in these tasks and Ernie Doe was asked to organise the use
of this equipment and the premises of Cubitts Farm, opposite the firms
works at Ulting, were made available.
A total of 240 tractors were sold in 1941 and as parts were not readily
available, machine tools to make replacements were installed.
In order to service the requirements of these tractors across the
county, the firm opened its first branches in 1943 at Fyfield and
Hythe Hill, Colchester. The company now has branches in Essex, Suffolk,
Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Kent,
Surrey and Sussex.
During the 1930s and 40s, Ernie had been keeping a watchful eye on
the progress of combine harvesters and by 1949 the company was regularly
visiting the Massey-Harris headquarters in Trafford Park, Manchester
in order to secure supplies from the new factory in Kilmarnock.
current chairman and son of Ernest Charles Doe. To complete the family
picture, Colin Doe, son of Alan, joined the company in 1979 and was
appointed managing director in 1989.
Advice was taken post-war in 1947, which culminated
in the formation of Ernest Doe & Sons Ltd which would take
over the agricultural side of the business. At the same time,
two further companies were established to cover the other sides
of the firms business.
The original directors of Ernest Doe & Sons LTD were E C
Doe, H W Doe and A E Doe the companys
Alan Doe (left) and Colin
Doe - Photograph by courtesy of Farmers Guide
Ernest Doe Snr developed several machines, and this
trend was carried on by Ernie, who together with Mr Taylor,
manager at Strutt & Parker (Farms) LTD, developed the Taylor
Doe Silage Harvester. This machine won the Burke Cup and a Silver
Medal at the 1952 Royal Show held at Newton Abbot.
In the 1950s, the only high horsepower tractors on the market
were American crawlers. These were expensive and not that readily
Mr George Pryor, one of the firms customers, saw Ernie
with the idea of joining two tractors together to develop 100hp!
George had perfected a turntable link between the two power
plants, but more development work was needed. Ernie recognised
the merit in the idea and agreed to
1952 Royal Show Newton Abbot - Alan E Doe, Ernest C Doe, R J
Tayler (Unc) and Lionel Harper
A Triple D on demonstration
The result was what was initially called the Doe Dual Drive, which
later became known as the Triple D. Production started in 1957 and
the tractor was demonstrated and taken to shows in the UK and Europe.
It won a Silver Medal at the 1960 Royal Show at Cambridge.
In all, 289 Triple Ds were sold between autumn 1958 and autumn 1964.
Units were exported to Germany, Ireland, Nigeria, Russia, Sweden,
Uruguay and the USA.
Replacement of the Fordson Super Major with the new 5000 in 1964 sent
the company back to the drawing board and a more powerful, stronger
and up to date tractor was born the Doe 130. This easily outperformed
the Triple D, but by the time the 150 was introduced, there was increased
competition from other manufacturers to produce high powered four
wheel drive tractors, and so production ceased in 1968.
In 1956, after a long period of negotiations, the company decided
to sign up exclusively to Ford as tractor dealers, a decision which
was ratified again in 1957. At this time, Massey-Harris joined forces
with Harry Ferguson and whilst Ernest Doe & Sons remained an exclusive
tractor dealer with Ford, it meant having to forego selling Massey-Harris
This gap was eventually filled by New Holland and in 1986, when Ford
bought New Holland, this was a situation which worked in the favour
of Ernest Doe & Sons.
Of course by 1990, Ford sold its agricultural business to Fiat, but
again the company found that the new situation worked well. One of
the main reasons for this is that Fiat is totally committed to the
agricultural machinery business and is continually developing new
The company has always looked for opportunities in
areas complementary to its agricultural business. The chance
was taken in 1959 to distribute the JCB excavator in South East
In 1963 a separate company, Ernest Doe Industrial LTD, was formed
to handle the construction plant division. By 1964, relations
between Ford and Bamford were such that Ernest Doe and Sons
had to choose between them.
The Domobile Universal Excavator
It was decided to settle with Ford, selling in the familiar South
East of England territory. The arrangement exists today where the
company now markets New Holland construction equipment alongside O&K,
Hyundai, Komatsu Utility, Barford and Winget.
Ernest and later Alan Doe had limited success with professional grass
machinery, but under the guidance of Colin Doe, the company has seen
tremendous growth in this market sector during the 90s and to the
The company is a Textron (formerly Ransomes) dealer and opened branches
at Esher and Billingshurst especially for this purpose. Many golf
clubs and local authorities rely upon the company for the supply and
servicing of this specialist equipment and this has now led to other
markets such as small road sweepers.
The stores at every branch have always been stocked with the farmers
requirements. But this has now meant that the showrooms have broad
appeal across the local population with power tools, garden machinery,
Calor gas and outdoor clothing being attractive to many people.
moved to Ulting where there is ample opportunity to show machines
working on the land that the company farms.
The company decided to hold its own show and the
first was held in February 1960. February was chosen because
Ernie Doe felt that neither he nor his customers would have
much to do as the shooting season finished on 1st February and
it was too early for spring work on the land! and February it
is to this day.
The first show was held at Braintree, but after a couple of
years it was
The Doe Show
This has proved a successful formula and the show goes from strength
to strength. Visitors come from all over the UK and it always gets
the year off to a good start.
The companys chairman, Alan Doe, has written a 92 page illustrated
hard back book about the firms history entitled A century
of service, priced £14.95. Copies can be obtained by
emailing a request to firstname.lastname@example.org