THE family of a well-respected and much-liked figure of Herefordshire and Worcestershire's farming community has paid tribute to him after his death.

Latterly of Bronyard, Allan Jenkins was arguably best-known in hop picking, helping to design a machine exported all over the world.

He was born in 1927 in Sutton St Nicolas, near Hereford, his father a postman and his mother's family tenant farmers at Hindlip, Worcester. His family has said this was a bygone age when life was simple and, for children, idyllic.

Allan and his older sister Joyce would walk three miles across the fields to the village school where five to 14 year olds were divided into two classrooms.

On their daily walks to school Allan and his sister would clap hands to scare rabbits, pick wild strawberries, blackberries, hazelnuts and sorrel from the stream.

Allan, from an early age, was always interested in machinery and would run off to investigate the latest agricultural implement pulled by horse, causing the two children to be in trouble for being late for tea.

In 1935, the Jenkins family moved to Norton, the home of the Worcestershire Regiment where his grandparents had taken over the running of another farm.

He later attended school in Kempsey and frequently reminisced about learning to swim in the Severn, close to the new road bridge.

Hereford Times: Allan Jenkins learned to ride a horse when his family moved to Norton, WorceterAllan Jenkins learned to ride a horse when his family moved to Norton, Worceter
On leaving school, Allan moved to Worcester Technical College. There he studied draughtsmanship skills and gained engineering and mathematical knowledge.

He always loved maths and his children remember how he found it impossible to understand logarithms, trigonometry and the use of a slide rule

Allan's first job was at Heenan and Froude, the well-known Worcester engineering company, where he served his draughtsman apprenticeship.

His passion was aircraft and this continued all his life. He would have loved to join the RAF but his work on plane engine testing prevented him from doing so. He became a keen member of the Royal Observer Corps

His family said he was also a passionate, and accomplished motor bike scrambler, winning many trophies. He was approached by BSA motorcycles to become their team rider but turned the offer down. He also owned a classic Morgan car.

Hereford Times: Allan Jenkin was also a keen motorbike enthusiastAllan Jenkin was also a keen motorbike enthusiast

In the late 50s, Allan's engineering and drawing skills were spotted by Albert Brooks of Bruff Engineering, Suckley. Allan was taken on by Albert to be head of the drawing office.

The Bruff designed hop picking machine had largely taken over from the first machines designed by McConnell Hinds. Allan and Albert Brooks got on famously, his family said.

During the picking season, Allan would work on machine maintenance and consult closely with Albert Brooks on how the machines could be improved, and any problems corrected.

Their combined thoughts would be put onto the drawing board and modifications made for the next season.

Allan became one of the great characters of the hop growing era, especially in the Frome Valley, on hand to ensure repairs were made quickly.

Allan was also involved in the export of machines, to Europe and the United States. He took one to California but alas no further machines were bought by the Americans since they incorporated much of the Bruff design and produced their own.

His family said there are still Bruff machines in use in Australia and New Zealand today.

They said he was a good salesman, had an easy going character and would take prospective buyers of the Bruff machine around to neighbouring farms during the picking season.

One of the major customers were Guinness Hop Farms, in Bransford and in Kent.

Eventually Allan saw that his time at Bruff was reaching a natural conclusion and he spotted the gap in the market for a building construction company.

Mark Capper of Stocks Farm, whose hop picking machine had been maintained by Allan, generously allowed him to use an old blacksmith's forge for the fabrication of steel and so started a very successful small business – Alvia Developments.

Many of the barns, cow sheds, hop picking machine buildings built in the 60s and 70s were constructed by Allan and his small team.

Eventually the business needed larger premises and Allan and his wife bought a small farm in Stanford Bishop, undertaking a major renovation of the house and constructing a purpose built facility for steel preparation.

Here, Allan was able to indulge in his childhood passion for farming, rearing calves and making hay and Allan and his wife hosted many charity events at their home.

In the mid 1980s, Allan's health took a turn for the worse and he decided to close the business and open a small dog boarding kennels.


Allan Jenkins retired to Bromyard in 1997 where he continued to support wife Sylvia

Allan Jenkins retired to Bromyard in 1997 where he continued to support wife Sylvia


He then retired in 1997 and moved to Bromyard where he spent his final years supporting wife Sylvia in her continuing charity work. He died aged 94 in January.

"Beloved husband of Sylvia, much-loved father of Sandra and Nettie, grandfather of five, great grandfather of two," a family announcement in the Hereford Times said.