Was this Top Gear’s funniest post-Clarkson episode? A muck spreader made by GT Bunning of Gressenhall demolishes a Volvo.
PUBLISHED: 10:45 22 March 2017
Archant Norfolk 2017
When the nation’s favourite motoring show asked to trial one of their machines for a segment in its new series, agricultural engineers GT Bunning & Sons jumped at the chance.
But as it was Top Gear asking to put a £100,000 muck spreader through its paces, bosses at the Gressenhall-based firm were not entirely surprised to learn that they wanted to demonstrate its capabilities with something a little more challenging than a load of steaming manure.
The hit BBC show, which has a reputation for doing things a little differently, had lined up watermelons, a garden shed and then, incredibly, a Volvo car to pass through its spinning augers.
But did that matter to the Norfolk company that was founded over 100 years ago?
“Absolutely not,” said managing director Greg Shepherd. “I was 100 percent sure it was capable of the job. Our machines are so over-engineered I had every confidence.
“They are used all over the world from putting wood chip down on the ice roads in northern Canada to rubber on race tracks in Saudi Arabia. They have even been used to clear landmines in warzones.”
Top Gear’s assistant producer and a researcher brought a Volvo to the Gressenhall manufacturing site to give Bunning’s flagship muck spreader, the Lowlander Widebody 380 HD, a test run earlier this month.
They were so thrilled with the shredded result that they booked it for filming on Sunday, March 12. Two Bunning engineers took the machine to a farm in Surrey, near the studios at Dunsfold Park, where it was filmed decimating its irregular cargo loaded in by presenter Matt le Blanc, and ably assisted by guest Tamsin Greig.
The show aired on Sunday, March 19, with many critics saying it was the funniest post-Clarkson episode yet.
“You could say the phones have been busy,” said Mr Shepherd. “The machine held up really well, it just lost a bit of paintwork and we’ve replaced the shredding blades.
“It is great for us, in the middle of a little Norfolk village, to be on such a big show. We could not have asked for more.”
He said while it is a boost for the Norfolk manufacturing team - they have around 75 workers at Gressenhall making 300 spreaders a year - the publicity could prove huge for their new US factory where they hope to make 500 machines a year.