TRIBUTES have been paid to an engineering 'legend' who has passed away, aged 84.

Self-taught and operating out of a Somerset workshop, Edgar Harding became an engineering legend.

He operated from his family’s farm in Galhampton, surrounded by lathes, arc welders, a giant vice and drawers (made of adapted petrol cans) full of screws, nails, nuts, bolts and myriad other paraphernalia.

Edgar, who died on Boxing Day 2019, a few days short of his 85th birthday, never needed to advertise his services.

Word of his skillsets spread like wildfire, through parts of Britain even and certainly comprehensively across the south west, a fact that bemused the modest former farmer.

Over the decades there proved to be almost nothing that he couldn’t mend or make, so much so that a local machinery dealer once told Edgar that he was costing his business sales by keeping machines going beyond their useful life.

As his lifelong friend and neighbour, Alan Bartlett, revealed in a moving eulogy at Edgar’s funeral in the Church of St Michael in North Cadbury in January, during the dark days of 1973’s three-day week that brought with it relentless power cuts, he had gone to see Edgar in a panic as he had no back-up system to milk his dairy cows.

Within 24 hours an old lorry’s differential and gear box had been rigged together with pullies and bits and pieces, a hole had been made in a wall, and a generator cranked into life.

The home-made invention worked a treat, thus averting a crisis.

On another occasion, Edgar incurred the wrath of the Ministry of Defence after inventing an attachment to a telephone that worked even better than the great innovator could have imagined — it’s range of two miles prompting the MOD to consider that there may even be a spy in Galhampton!

Before the metalwork stage of his life, Edgar had been a dairy farmer.

He was born at Brick House Farm, from which he never moved, and, on leaving Ansford School at 15, he helped his father, Bertram Harding, build up the milking herd.

After his father’s early, untimely death Edgar, then 28, subsequently switched to farming beef cattle until, eventually, the engineering work began to be more profitable — and no doubt more satisfying — and totally took over.

It was a source of great joy to him that only a few months before his death from a rare form of blood cancer he had been featured in Farmers Weekly’s Workshop Legends slot, in which he was termed “Somerset superstar”.

In the article, he admitted that what he loved most about his life was that 'every day was different'.

"One day I’d be making a milking machine line-cleaner and the next I’d be building bale sledges," he said.

His greatest achievement, he said, had been when, aged only 20, he added an extra gear onto the family’s Fordson E27N tractor so that it would run slowly enough for harrowing, but fast enough for roadwork and mowing.

Kind, generous to a fault, a good listener, sometimes cantankerous, but also “unique”, according to Alan Bartlett, and with a dry sense of humour, the fact that he was held in high regard by so many was evidenced by the packed pews in the Church of St Michael.

Edgar, also a keen bee-keeper and an award-winning cider maker, was predeceased by his first wife, Ruby, who died of cancer shortly after their marriage.

He is survived by his second wife, Marlene Masters Harding, herself a nationally recognised public access expert, whom he first met as a young man.

The couple, who had been together for 16 years, married just two days before Edgar’s death in Yeovil Hospital in an emotionally charged ceremony in front of many of the amazing staff who helped care for him.