Displenishing sales in Midlothian in 1926

Displenishing sales provide an insight into the implements and machines that were being used on a farm when the tenant was leaving a particular farm. They can show the type of agriculture practiced as well as the range of implements and machines used. They can also show whether the Fram was using new and innovative ones or were relying on older ones. 

In October 1926 there were two displenishing sales taking place in Midlothian – at Blackcastle and Burdiehouse. It is worth looking at these to see what implements and machines were being used nearly 100 years ago. There is a great emphasis on ploughing, cultivating, carting, crop processing, and animal husbandry. 

Blackcastle, Tynehead
The whole of the farm implements, including-6 swing ploughs, 2 D.M. ploughs, 1 potato ploughs, corn drill (Massey Harris), broadcast barrow, 3 turnip barrows, 3 land rollers, 1 scarifier (new), Hunter Hoe, 3 cultivators, 1 set chain harrows, 6 sets English harrows, 1 set grass seed harrows, 7 grubbers, 4 binders, turnip cutter, turnip cutting cart, 2 manure distributors, 9 box carts, 2 box cart bodies, 2 long carts, 7 long cart bodies, 1 cart frame, 2 dumb tams, 13 sheep hecks, 5 cake bins on wheels, 6 cake bins, 2 corn chests, net stobs, 11 hand made wire nets, sheep cake and turnip boxes, clipping stool, set fanners (Corbett’s new), 2 sets barn weights (1 set new, by Avery Ltd), 3 Hurleys, 2 sack barrows, stack and binder covers, ropes, hen coops, wheelbarrows, ladders, grindstone, and a large assortment of small tools.
Also 14 sets cart and plough harness, 15 stall collars, riding saddle, lady’s riding saddle, &c. 

Burdiehouse Farm, Loanhead
The usual farm implements required for a farm this size, including:-five box carts, 4 long carts, 2 binders (Massey Harris), 2 hay collectors, 9 sets harrows, 3 double grubbers, 4 drill grubbers, cultivator, D. D. manure sower, Hosier corn drill, 5 ploughs, 2 iron rollers, 2 stone rollers, drill roller, turnip barrow, 3 corn chests, potato boxes and baskets, 12 FC troughs, 2 hen houses, 6 chicken coops, small tools, &c. Four sets cart and plough harness, dairy utensils, quantity household furniture. 

It is interesting to note for the advert for Burdiehouse that the implements were “the usual” ones for “a farm of this size”. This gives an indication of what was typical for a farm.

The photographs were taken at the Royal Highland Show, June 2019.


What implements and machines were at the Glasgow “Highland” in 1897?

The largest shows of the Highland Show of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland were usually those held in the Edinburgh and Glasgow Show Districts. Not only did they attract local exhibitors within the Show District but also ones from much further afield. The largest number of English exhibitors were also found at these two shows. 

The Highland Show in 1897 provides a good account of what was new and innovative in one of the large show centres at the end of the nineteenth century. There has been a lot of work to mechanise farming, especially harvesting activities (grain and potato) and steps were being taken to mechanise milking, seen in the competition for a milking machine. There was also a large array of implements and machines available to the agriculturist. 

The Scotsman provides an extensive account of the Highland in Glasgow in 1897. It is worth quoting at length to see how it was reported: 

“The space set apart for the implement yard exceeds 5000 feet, and there are 2227 implements shown on 183 stands. Although not the largest show of implements that has been seen at Glasgow, it is all over a good exhibition, and embraces everything that embraces everything that enters into farm husbandry. At Perth last year the number of implements shown was 1945, and at Dumfries in 1895 they reached the large number of 2265. This year’s entry has been exceeded at only seven of the seventy shows held by the Society; and it is larger by 600 than that at last Glasgow show in 1888, but is 400 less than at the show of 1882. Although there are no absolute novelties in the implement section, there is no end of variety, and all the productions of the agricultural engineer are shown with their most recent improvements. The Society do not this year offer prizes for implements, but in connection with the show a competitive test of milking machines took place a month or two ago, when the prize of £50 was awarded to Mr William Murchland, Kilmarnock. His machine will be shown in working operation daily, and will be one of the chief attractions of the show. It was seen by the judges at work on three farms, and on each occasion samples of the milk drawn from the cows by the machine, and from the same cows by hand, were taken and set, in order to test the keeping qualities of the milk. On two of the farms the machine had been at work since 1891, and on the third for two months, and the judges stated that in each case it was found to perform the operation of milking efficiently and speedily. The time occupied for each cow was generally from four to six minutes, sometimes rather less. It seemed to cause no discomfort to the cows, and no injury to the teats or udder. It drew the milk by continuous suction, without any apparent pulsating movement. The apparatus was simple in its construction, equally simple in its working, and not difficult to clean or keep clean. The power required to work the machine was not great, At the first farm a half-horsepower oil engine milked ten cows at a time quite easily. Until this engine was put in recently, the machine was worked by one man, with an ordinary force pump. In every instance, the samples of milk drawn by the machine were found to keep satisfactorily. After a lapse of forty-eight hours they were perfectly sweet and in no respect inferior to the milk drawn by hand. The judges state that they regard this machine as a practical success, and are of opinion that in large dairies, where milkers are scarce, it may be introduced with advantage. 

The exhibition of implements is the largest that has been seen at the Highland Show for the last twelve years, and in every respect the department is most complete. Every class of machine used in husbandry is on exhibition, and no more striking example of the great progress that has taken place in the economy of the farm could be afforded than the present display of machinery for facilitating the farm work of today. One of the first stands to command attention is that of Messrs George Gray & Co., Uddingston Plough Works, where a very fine assortment of ploughs of all kinds is on view. Next to this stand is that of Messrs John Drummond & Son, engineers, Cumnock, who exhibit two kinds of superior thrashing machines. A large and complete stand is that of Messrs A. Newlands & Sons, Linlithgow, where all kinds of farm machinery are on view. One of the features of this stand is the display of drill ploughs, which baulk up the drills in such a fashion as to leave no green potatoes. A particularly good implement is the potato-lifter, which so works as to lift up the tubers without injuring them. The action of the machine is the same as that of a man lifting potatoes. Its action is very natural. In most machines of this kind the action is rotary, but here the machine only describes a half-circle, with the result that the potatoes are delved out as if by manual labour. The invention, which is patented by Mr Newlands and Mr Burns, a potato merchant, has been in use this year digging out the green potatoes at Girvan. Another exhibit at this stand worthy of mention is a self-acting horse-rake of very simple mechanism. Passing on, the next stand to call for notice is that of Mr William Elder, Berwick upon Tweed, who shows a varied and interesting group of machines. A feature is the improved mower and reaper, worked from the hinge bar instead of from the pole, thus dispensing entirely with side draught. The broadcast sowers of this firm are known all over the country, and are great favourites on many leading farms. Some improvements have been introduced into them this year, and seed box having been made larger, to mention only one improvement. The steel-board ridging ploughs are so constructed that the draught weight is reduced to a minimum.

Great labour-saving implements are the drill rollers and grubbers, which are so notched as to break the clods, and can be adjusted to any size or width of the drill. Mr A. Pollock, Mauchline, shows a very good collection of labour-saving applicances, and it may be mentioned that many of the products of this firm have already been booked, so great is the demand for the machiens of this prominent Ayrshire maker. A very good substantial combined reaper and mower of a new style, with a tilting board for hay and corn, is one of the features of this stand; while a hay and straw press, which is on show, is so arranged that one person can lift it by its own lever on to its wheels in one minute after the men stop baling, making it easy for transport. Practical agriculturists should make a pause at this exhibit. The distinction of having won the gold medal at Haddington belongs to this press. A very handy rick lifter is case-hardened in the centre of the wheel as well as in the axle, thus adding to its durability. This machine only weighs 6cwt gross. A patent hay collector is also on view, as well as an improved potato digger; while there is an example of Nicholson’s patent switchback hay turner, which Mr Pollock was the first to introduce into Ayrshire. There are also shown a double cheese press and a patent curd mill, similar to those used in the Dairy School at Kilmarnock. The features of the curd mill are the round teeth and the open grating in the centre, enabling it to break up more effectively, and without getting twisted round the breaker. 

Messrs George Sellar & Son, Huntly, have a goodly show of ploughs, harrows, grubbers, and binders. Messrs P. & R. Fleming & Co., Glasgow, have one of the largest stands in the implement yard. A prominent feature is the corrugate d steel shed fitted with the horse fork. Beneath the shed is a large assortment of dairy and laundry utensils, while a large Bradford windmill is one of the features of the landscape. It is claimed for this windmill that the highest wind will not overcome it, and certainly it has plenty of opportunity of distinguishing its capabilities yesterday. The firm also show many of the machines for which they are the agents. Messrs John Gray & Co., Uddingtson, have on show a large display of ploughs and other agricultural implements; while Mr Charles Weir, Strathaven, exhibits rick lifters and churns. Mr Thomas Turnbull, Castle Bank, Dumfries, has a stand on which he shows an improved Dumfries broadcast sower for grain and grass seeds, along with chaff cutters and grinding and churning mills. Weighing machines have of late been coming to the front in farm work, and the stand of Messrs Ward & Avery, Glasgow, devoted to these exhibits, is therefore all the more interesting. Messrs Henry Pooley & Son, Glasgow, also show in this department a number of weighbridges of various capacities. Mr John Scoular, Stirling, makes a large display of agricultural appliances; and the stand of Mr J. P. Cathcart, Glasgow, is also a most complete one. The machines of Walter A. Wood are exhibited at the stands of Messrs P. & R. Fleming, Glasgow, and George Sellar & Sons, Huntly. Messrs Kemp & Nicholson, Stirling, have a large stand on which they show horse rakes, reapers, mowers, hay collectors, spring carts, farm carts, vans and lorries. The Morgan hay baler at this stand is a machine which can load 50cwt of hay on an ordinary railway wagon, pressing hay to double the density of the old-fashioned press. An improved cart turnip cutting machine is worthy of notice here. Messrs James Grey & Co, Stirling, have also a goodly collection of implements. One of the largest stamds in the show is that of Messrs A. & J. Main & Co., Edinburgh and Glasgow. The chief exhibits at this stand are the Deering binders, an American make of machine which has been pushing its way to the front in Scotland.

The Deering pony binder is fitted with roller and ball bearings while the Deering ideal mowers and combined mowers and reapers are also fitted in a similar fashion. The Deering Harvester Company introduced ball bearings into their machines five years ago, and since that time many other firms have adopted this contrivance. One of their pony binders is fitted with slot conveyors instead of canvasses. Their McDonald turnip topping and tailing machine won a silver medal at the Dumfries Highland Show. Shown for the first time was the one horse back-delivery reaper and mower, which is specially adapted for small farms and crofts, and which is used as a supplementary machine to the binder for opening up fields. With Brown’s Cammo cart turnip cutting machine, also exhibited at this stand, a cartful of turnips can be cut in seven minutes. Messrs Thomas Hunter & Sons, Maybole, show a very nice collection of implements of general utility in the cultivation of the soil, chiefly applicable to the root crops. Mr Wm McNaughton, Stirling, shows hand presses. Messrs J. D. Allan & Sons, Dunkeld; Mr William Dickie, East Kilbride; Mr Matthew Dunlop, Glasgow, and Messrs John Turnbull & Sons, Dunmore, Larbert, have all good collections of various kinds of agricultural implements. Messrs G. McCartney & Co., Old Cumnock, exhibit a couple of thrashing mills- one of them a high speed machine fitted with riddle and fanners. An attractive display is made by Messrs Thomas Sherriff & Co., Westbarns, Dunbar. A feature of their exhibition is an improved broadcast sowing machine for grain and grass seeds, which at Haddington Show on Saturday was awarded a silver medal. This comprehensive stand also includes a collapsible sheep fodder rack of novel design.

Messrs John Wallace & Sons, Glasgow, like many other local firms, have a large display, comprising the City of Glasgow and the Thistle binders, the popular Massey-Harris cultivators, and the Champion potato-digger, with two and three horse trees. The hay “tedders’ exhibited by the firm are worth the attention of visitors. Driven by one horse, they are every day coming into greater demand. Naturally a prominent machine on the stand of Messrs J. Bisset & Sons, Blairgowrie, is the firm’s open back binder, which was shown at the trials in connection with the show at Edinburgh in 893, and obtained a favourable notice from the judges then. Among the firm’s other exhibits is the safety potato digger. Messrs Alexander Jack & Sons, Maybole, have a large stand, on which are specimens of the strong and compact Empire binder and the well-known Caledonia potato digger, which, being fitted with enclosed gearing, is capable of standing a great deal of wear and tear. The digger, which was first at the trials of the Leicester Royal Show a year ago, holds a prominent position in the market as a perfectly arranged machine. A moderately priced horse hoe and specimens of the Dux Canadian ploughs are among the other exhibits by which the firm is represented. 

The motion yard is not very extensive, but it is extremely interesting, and embraces an excellent collection of machinery of the farm. Mr H. B. Fleming, Kirkliston, shows the “Bisset” reaper and binder. Messrs Carrick & Ritchie, Edinburgh, show a large collection of their improved turbines, pelton wheels, jet water motors, and other appliances for the utilisation of water for power for mills, farm machinery &c. the application of water power to country house lighting by electricity is illustrated by a combined turbine and dynamo. Another novelty is a combined jet water motor and dynamo suitable for lighting a small house containing thirty lamps. Another application of water power for the ventilation of buildings is shown. This is a very compact combination of a jet motor and ventilating fan, by which the town water supply entering a cistern may be made to yield up its power in driving the ventilating fan, and then pass into the cistern for domestic use. Messrs Ben Reid & Co., Aberdeen, have an attractive stand, at which the show in notion five thrashing machines of the newest and most improved type, fitted with double blast and barley awner. They have also at work one of the Massey Harris Brantford binders, fitted with the original patent slat conveyer. They likewise show their well-known broadcast sowing machines and manure distributers, together with a varied assortment of useful articles for farm work. Thrashing machiens and engines are the leading features of the stand occupied by Mr R. G. Morton, Errol, and these are of an excellent description, neatly designed, and well finished. Windmills are conspicuous objects on the stands of Messrs P. & W. Maclellan, Glasgow, and Messrs John S. Millar & Son, Annan. As in former years, Messrs Thos Gibson & Son, Fountainbridge, Edinburgh, have one of the largest individual spaces in the yard allotted to their exhibits. Their name is so well known for ornamental iron work that little need be said on their behalf. Mr William Sinton, Jedburgh, shows an interesting assortment of churns; and Mr John Gray, Stranraer, has on view cheese vats, presses, refrigerators, and other dairy utensils. The Dairy Supply Company, Edinburgh, exhibit a large collection of separators and other appliances of a useful character. The Sorn Dairy Supply, Glasgow, have a working dairy, which should prove a source of much attraction, the process of buttermaking being carried on daily. Messrs Watson, Laidlaw, & Co., Glasgow, show a number of cream separators in this section of the implement yard.”

Quite a show! Lots to see for the framer and agriculturist.


The great Highland of 1921 – from a north-eastern perspective

The Highland Show was the great stock and implement show of Scotland. In non-covid times it was much looked forward to. It’s proceedings, including its stands, their contents, stock entries and their winners were widely reported in the press. This included not only the agricultural press, the national press but also the regional and local press. Journalists were sent to report what was important for the local farmers to see and know about. 

In 1921 the Aberdeen daily journal sent a reporter to the show. They provided a lively account of it – it was a huge show. Its main focus was on who and what from Aberdeen and the north east was at the show. It was a kind of home from home. If you are interested in an account of the contribution of north-east makers to the implement department then this is a really good one. 

This is what the Aberdeen daily journal wrote about the Highland Show of 1921 in its issue of 26 July 1921

“This year’s display of farm and garden implements, machinery, and dairy utensils probably forms one of the largest exhibition of the kind seen in Scotland. Everything required by the agriculturist, no matter what branch he may specialize in, can be seen. Fly papers for the dairy, patent penny collar studs, and traction engines and threshing mills are all on view, and the collection is one of the most comprehensive seen at the Highland Show. All the leading manufacturers in Aberdeen and the north are represented by stands, and, given good weather, they look forward to doing good business. The venue of the show this year is within reasonable distance of the large industrial and implement centres in Scotland, and perhaps this explains the large display of machinery. As an engineering proposition, the exhibits are most interesting, but it is their utilitarian and labour-saving value that will appeal most to those who inspect them. The north firms have shown commendable enterprise in adopting the very last class of machinery and implements, and all the very latest improvements.

One of the features of the motion yard was the display of tractors and threshing machines and light oil-driven engines suitable for nearly all kinds of farm work, including the manufacture of electricity for lighting and power purposes.

Mechanical farming
It is evident, without doubt, that the mechanical element in farming is having a greater influence on the industry than ever before. It would seem that in course of time, if the present trend of development is continued, there will be little manual labour required on the farm. In addition, new methods are being adopted in the treatment of seed and manures, all with the one object of increasing the yield of the crops and improving the quality. The same applies to animal feeds. Even the farmer himself is not neglected, for he is notified at several of the stands what style and quality of clothes and boots he should wear.

The new implements and machinery include a 2hp mower called the Viking, a 3hp oil engine by Armstrong, Whitworth, and Co. All the necessity for external lubrication has been eliminated; and a special design of bearings introduced which double the life of the same. There is a sheep drain-cleaning machine invented by Mr James Parker Smith, Auchterarder. It is made to clean sheep drains measuring up to 22 in wide on surface by 14 in deep and drain bottom 9 in wide. There is also a new type of manure distributor, a patent sheaf-binding harvester, a revolt drain excavator, a new type of threshing machine from Holland, a self-propolled engine-driven turnip cutter, a nine-tined universal cultivator with self-lift gear and expanding axle, a new implement for collecting and ricking hay, a new patent turnip thinner, a stationary air-cooled single sleeve-valve engine with two speed drives and the high speed of 1000 revolutions per minute. It consumes paraffing, and has a slow speed of 500 revolutions per minute. There is also among the new implements an expanding horse how and a new patent traction coupling. 

Aberdeen to the front
Aberdeen is well represented within the yard. The erection itself has been put up under the supervision of Mr John Reid, the contractor, who hails from Aberdeen. A large staff of joiners from Bon Accord have been in Stirling for weeks putting up the enclosure and erecting the stands. 
Without doubt, the motion yard is the largest ever seen at a “Highland”. Aberdeen and north firms are represented by Messrs Allan Bros., Ashgrove Engineering Works; the Association of Fish Meal, Fish Guano, and Fish Oil Manufacturers, 75 Union Street, Aberdeen; Messrs Auchinachie and Simpson, Keith; Messrs Barclay, Ross, and Hutchison, Aberdeen; the Bon Accord Engineering Company Ltd, Aberdeen; John M. Brown, 420 George Street, Aberdeen; Mr James Crichton, Engineering Works, Strichen; Messrs R. G. Garvie and Sons, 2 Canal Road, Aberdeen; Messrs Marshall and Philp, 179 Union Street, Aberdeen; Messrs A Muller and Company, 184 West North Street, Aberdeen; Messrs James Scott and Son (Aberdeen), Ltd, 483 Union Street; Messrs G. Sellar and Son, Ltd, Agricultural Engineers, Huntly; the Warden Insurance Company (Ltd), 218 Union Street, Aberdeen, etc. 

Principal stands
The following are among the principal stands-Stand no. 53-Messrs Wallace (Glasgow), Limited, on stand no. 53 display a very representative collection of farm implements and machinery. The two outstanding features of their exhibit are the “Glasgow” tractor and the “Glasgow” single sleeve valve farm engine. Of the former much has already been written both from an engineering and a farmer’s point of view, so that it does not call for extensive comment. The recently published list of testimonials bears evidence of the great satisfaction which users are deriving from the “Glasgow” tractor. 

The outstanding difference between the “Glasgow” and other tractors is that the formerly having three-wheel drive transmits its power to the drawbar in such measure that the manufacturers claim its greatest success is exactly where others fail-under heavy conditions and on hilly land. A signed guarantee is given with every tractor, covering a period of twelve months. A rather novel method of showing the drawbar merits of the “Glasgow” tractor is on view in the form of a large clock-like face showing the drawbar pull necessary for a two furrow and likewise for a three-furrow plough, and further round the dial the hand points to drawbar pull of the “Glasgow” showing a big reserve over what is necessary for a three-furrow plough. 

The single sleeve valve engines are on view fir the first time at the Highland Show. They are air-cooled, and are models of neatness. Their principal feature is simplicity, having 70 per cent fewer parts than the usual type of small farm engine. The samples shown are 2 ½-3bhp according to the list, but dynamometer tests have recorded 4.25bhp so that there is a considerable margin of power. Considerable orders, it is understood, were placed at the Royal Show for supplies of these engines, and arrangements are well forward in the factory for large output. Messrs Wallace (Glasgow) Ltd, have at the exhibition their usual varied collection of their well-known specialities. 

Mr J G Fraser, Springhilll, Douglas 
Stands nos 33 and 34-Mr J G Fraser, Springhill, Douglas, has an attractive implement and machinery stand. All the latest in oil engines can be seen here. They have been tested and tried for a variety of purposes, and have performed all that was required of them. The workmanship and finish are of the very best. Oil engines cab be had at prices from £120 to £250 each; saw benches, saws, &c for £50; corn bruisers, £60; combined crushing and grinding mills, £55 each; small combined grinding and sawing machines, £40 each; a d roller mills made by the DSA Engine and Machine Co., £50 each. 

Messrs Barclay, Ross and Hutchison
Stand no 58-Messrs Barclay, Ross and Hutchison, Ltd, agricultural implement makers, Green, Aberdeen, occupy Stand no 58, which has a frontage of 30 feet. They show two portable threshers and one semi-portable driven by Austin tractors. They are high-speed threshing machines, built of the best selected pitchpine. They are suitable for threshing oats, wheat and barley and presenting them fit for the market. There is also on view a Ruston and Hornsby petrol and paraffin oil engine for driving any of the threshers. A feature of this stand is the firm’s wave-disc manure distributor, which has been so long on the market as a favourite that so far there is nothing to beat it. The prices of the threshers and manure distributors have been greatly reduced, and it would ceryainly pay farmers to call here and see for themselves what the firm can offer them. The firm also show their famous Balmoral cultivator, besides a large selection of other implements.

Strichen Engineering Works 
Stand no. 30-Mr James Crichton, Engineering Works, Strichen, has a 40-feet covered in stand. Farmers visiting this stand will find much to interest them. There are a variety of threshers of the best possible workmanship and material. A 3ft 6 in stationary finishing thresher makes a first-rate job, and the price is only £400. For a similar figure a 3ft portable finishing thresher can be obtained. There is also a 24in high speed thresher at £180, a 24 in medium speed at £160, and another similar one at £125. 

Messrs A. Muller, Aberdeen
Stand no. 83-Messrss A Muller and Co., Aberdeen, have on view at Stand no. 83 a splendid display of high-class engineering tools, including a range of “Mulco” boring, punching, and shearing machines. The “Mulco” boring machine is supplied in six different types, one of which will meet the requirement of any trade. The boring capacity is up to three inches, and the larger machines are fitted with many improvements, including automatic feed and stopping arrangement. The “Mulcho” punching and shearing machines are shown in many types either for hand or for power. A novelty is the “Mulco” reducing sleeve and nut. This ingenious article does away with the necessity for hammers and file0ends to release sleeves, and thus preserves spindles, drills and chucks. Another feature is the self-centring chucks, as well as many other minor articles interesting and necessary to the engineering trade. A speciality is made of seamless milk-cans, which, for hygiene and economy, are meeting a long-fely necessity.”

Lots of big names from the north-east at the Highland of 1921.


What was new for the Ayrshire farmer in 1888?

The Ayrshire Agricultural Association Show had an extensive display of implements and machines at its shows in the nineteenth century. It was a major show in the diaries of key implement and machine makers. While the exhibitors were largely from Ayrshire and neighbouring counties – and Glasgow – there could also be some noted English makers with manufactures specifically for Ayrshire agriculture. 

The Ayrshire Advertiser has an extensive account of the exhibits at the 1888 show. This was a time when Ayrshire – and Scottish – agriculture was in a long depression that was to continue until well through the first decade of the twentieth century. During that time it was important to economise on labour costs. Mechanisation played a key role in this, though farmers were extremely cost conscious. 

The following is an account from the Ayrshire Advertiser on the Ayrshire Agricultural Association show in 1888: 

“The implements
Notwithstanding the long depression of trade, and the too well known want of money among farmers, the exhibition of implements and machines is fully up to that of any previous year. We were afraid at one time that the attraction of the International Exhibition at Glasgow would have taken away many who have hitherto attended at Ayr, but no such falling off is visible. It is true there is nothing specially new, but before hearing the judges’ report we are inclined to think that improvements of considerable value are generally to be found in many of the stalls, and the walk round the sheds containing the machines and implements is quite as attractive this year as in any one previous.

Among the first in number, and, we may add, in importance, we find as usual the great stand of Jack & Sons, Maybole, with the genial Mr Marshall in attendance, and nearly 100 entries. Mowers and reapers in endless variety, carts and barrows, chaff cutters, turnip slicers and pulpers, all of the newest make, and too numerous to particularize. Indeed, Mr Marshall makes a first-rate show of his own. Next to this stand we have Thomas Bradford’s exhibition of churns and washing machines, which is specially attractive this year. Ladies especially would do well to visit this stand, for it may well be called the domestic stand of the show-yard, and many of the articles must be seen-a description only can give a very imperfect idea of the exhibits.

Passing over several stands of more or less importance, but all deserving of some attention, we come to another Maybole exhibitior, Thomas Hunter, whose display is certainly as attractive this year as formerly, new ploughs, rollers, grubbers, scarifiers, turnip cleaners and cutters, make up 70 exhibits, many of them deserving careful attention Ayr Show seems to be also improving in its turn out of carriages, gigs and dogcarts. Mr Robertson and Mr Bryden, Ayr; Messrs Smith and Duncan, Kilmarnock; Mr Holmes, Irvine; Wm Goudie, Whithoen; Sloan & Lonard, Penman & Son. Dumfries, have all stands, and exhibits very neat machines of various kinds. They certainly are elegant, seemingly strong, and considering the high finish are much cheaper than formerly. Mr J. P. Cathcart’s stand as usual deserves a special notice of Wood’s improved Binder, and various other agriculture implements which Mr Cathcart has always kept well to the front. 
Cumnock is represented with stands occupied by John Andrew, chemist, and George McCartney & Co., and John Drummond & Son, millwrights. Kilmarnock by W. G. Highet, with a good lot of dairy utensils, and D. Proctor & Co., engineers. Among local exhibitors we notice Mr Thomas Brown, cooper, with an excellent lot of butts and chissets. Mr James Mackie, millwright, has churns and cheese presses of improved quality, and other articles, which makes up an attractive stand. Daniel Wyllie & Co. as usual exhibits samples of their manures. Mr T. L. B. Robertson shows some famed bee keeping appliances. Mr Walsh, brassfounder, has some very fine specimens of his workmanship. 

Whitletts, near Ayr, is well represented by Mr Robert Cook and Mr Robert Wallace. The former has carts, and the latter a splendid selection of agricultural implements. Other well-known firms deserving of special mention are Mr John Young, Jun, New Cumnock, with reapers and mowers, potato diggers, and land rollers. And Mr Andrew Pollock, Mauchline, has a first-rate thrashing machine and other useful implements. It is matter of much regret to us to miss the appearance of Messrs J. & J. Young, so long one of the best of our exhibitors, but we hope soon to see their works started again. We leave the judges’ report a fuller notice of what, taking together, is an excellent implement show.”

There are still a number of names that can be seen around the rally fields in recent years.


What was new at the Highland a century ago?

In 1921 the Highland Show was held at Stirling. It has a significant display of implements and machines. The Scotsman called this an “imposing display”. It was perhaps even more important than in earlier years because of the importance of mechanization brought out as a result of the First World War and the shortage of agricultural labour. But agriculture was also facing tough times. Economies of man power and mechanization were seen to be important for the success and future success of Scottish agriculture. 

The Scotsman usually provided a succinct account of the Highland Show. This year was no different. It set out its account with a reflection on where the Scottish farmer was with mechanization and noted some of the key stands and developments. The years saw some important developments that were to change agriculture significantly: the Paterson rick lifter to make the process of making rucks more labour-efficient on the hay field, and the increasing use of tractors, through for example the Ivel, and the International . Ruck lifters and some of the older tractors can still be seen at rallies in the last few years. 

This is what the Scotsman wrote of the Highland Show on 26 July 1921: 

“The important position which the implement department has now for many years attained in all the principal showyards of the country is the outcome of the ingenuity, engine, and resourcefulness of the inventive and enterprising agricultural engineer, who has come to the aid of the farmer in every branch of husbandry. In securing the crops of the field the combined reaper and binder has to a large extent supplanted the ordinary mower and reaper; the work of gathering the hay crop in good condition has been greatly expedited by the introduction of mechanical haymakers; tillage operations and the preparation of the land for seed are carried on with the aid of cultivating machinery in every branch of that work; and labour-saving appliances have in an infinite variety of forms been brought to bear in every department of agriculture. The modern farmer has thus at his hand all the necessary equipment for carrying on high-class farming on the most appropriate principles. And the end is not yet, for the agricultural implement industry is now one of great magnitude, and every year sees some fresh development in its projects with a view to still further alleviating the position of the farmer. It is fitting therefore that while the encouragement of stock-breeding should receive the greatest prominence at the hands of the Highaldn and Agricultural Society, due regard should also be paid to the value of the work that is being done by the agricultural engineer in the economy of the farm. That he is still striving after new improvements and fresh methods in order to reach an even higher stage of perfection is shown by the large and comprehensive display of implements of every description that is to be seen in the Highland and Agricultural Society’s showyard at Stirling this week. Although there may not be much of a strikingly novel character to be found in the numerous lots of stands, there is an assortment of articles adapted not only to the ordinary work of the farm, but to the special purpose for which machinery has of late years been designed. Tractors are conspicuous.

“New implements”
The implement yard occupies 7200 feet, 1000 feet more than at Aberdeen last year, and all this space has been fully taken up by the machinery and implement manufacturers, the entries in this section being the largest in the history of the Society. Only 22 implements were shown at the first Highland Show in 1833, and they were still under 100 in 1864, but they reached four figures in 1873. In 1881 they numbered 2000, and that has been about the acreage extent of the department ever since. This week’s number is 2201, being 136 more than at Aberdeen last year. Great activity was shown on all stands to-day, and the various exhibits were being brought forward in good time. The implements stands were, despite the rain, being pushed on so as to be in readiness for the opening to-morrow.
Fourteen exhibitors have entered sixteen “new implements” for competition for the Society’s silver medal. The Society does not bind itself to try in the field every new implement, but an exhibitor who expresses a wish to do so can, with the sanction of the steward of implements, at his own expense take his new implement out of the showyard during the show week, and put it to work, and if within a reasonable distance, the judges will, if they deem it necessary, inspect it at work and decide if it is worthy of a silver medal. The judges of new implements are Messrs A B Leitch, Inchstellie, Alves, Forres; John Speir, Newton, Glasgow; and G. Bertram Shiels, Dolphingstone, Tranent; and they begin their work to-morrow. 
Newly designed mowing machine 

Messrs Armstrongs & Main (Limited), Edinbrugh, have entered a newly designed grass mowing machine, the “Viking”, containing details of construction not previously embodied in the manufacture of similar labour-saving machines. The new principle in this machine is that of spiral gearing which has been subjected to severe tests during the past four years. The new gearing, which has hitherto been used in the construction of motor cars, is now introduced into harvesting machines for the first time, and in consequence greater power, reduction in draught, sweetness in running and greater durability are produced.

Sir W G Armstrong, Whitworth & Co., exhibit a 3hp oil engine which has been specially designed for agricultural and general purposes. The engine is of a compact nature, taking up little space. All the working parts are enclosed, with the exception of the fly-wheel, pulley, and the ends of the crank shaft. The necessary for external lubrication has been eliminated.

Sheep drain cleaning machine
For many years hill farmers have been looking out for a serviceable sheep drain cleaning machine. The Craigrossie Engineering Co., Auchterarder, have come forward with a machine invented by Mr Jas Parker Smith, Eastmill, Auchterarder, which is made to clean sheep drains measuring up to 22 inches wide on the surface by 14 inches deep, with a drain bottom of 9 inches wide.

The soil is cut by disc coulters on either side, and the bottom is cut by a steel shave, and the whole soil cut comes to a stationary steel conveyor 7 feet long, which is set with a gradual rise to a height of about 3 feet at the rear, when the soil falls on to an inclined steel plate set at right angles to the conveyor, and which deposits the soil 3 feet from the side of the drain. The machine is built on three wheels. One front swivel wheel runs in the drain, and is raised and lowered by a lever, as desired; and two rear wheels, 28 inches in diameter, with a live axle which drives a top chain conveyor. The whole machine machine is carried on two parallel bars, 20 inches wide, and to which the front and rear wheels are attached.

Turnip thinner
Mr James H. Steele, 61 Harrison Road, Edinburgh, has entered a new patent turnip thinner made by Corbett, Williams & Son (Ltd), Flintshire. This is an implement for thinning roots at 10 in, 12 in, or 14 in pitch, on drills varying from 22 in to 28 in apart. The working depth is regulated by hand levers on each side of the machine, which raise or lower the thinning apparatus, which consists of a revolving helical knife in conjunction with two flat superimposed segments. These segments are moved along the shafts longitudinally, and adjusted radially to suit the width of that portion of the drill which it is proposed to remove. The pitch or lead of the revolving helicoid, being quicker than the travel of the machine, has a tendency when it enters the earth to throw it in a backward direction, whereas the flat segment, traveling at the same rate as the machine, when revolving, has a tendency to throw the earth forward, with the result that the apparatus starts its cutting action at each end of the space to be removed, and finishes its cut midway between. 

Farm engine
Messrs Wallace (Glasgow) Ltd, Dennistoun, Glasgow, exhibit a 2 ½-3 bhp stationary single sleeve valve engine. It is air cooled and a model of neatness. The principal feature is simplicity, having 70 per cent fewer parts than the usual type of small farm engine. It has two-speed drives, a high speed of 1000 revolutions per minute, and a slow speed of 500 revolutions per minute. The fuel is paraffin. Although the engine is listed 2 ½-3 bhp dynanometer tests have recorded 4.25 bhp, so that there is a considerable margin of power.
Hay ricker
Messrs Robertson & McLaren, Craigmill, Stirling, have entered the “Victory” hay ricker, invented by Mr Geo, Paterson, farmer, Wester Frew, Kippen. It is an implement for collecting and ricking hay, and though its present price may be prohibitive for the ordinary farmers, it has many points in its favour, chief of which is labour saving. Driven by two horses, the implement goes between the swathe, and the hay is carried by an elevator from the ground to a steel cage, inside of which is a man who tramps the hay. When the cage is full the man comes out, and the cage is inverted, allowing the rick to fall to the ground. The implement is said to have been in use by farmers in the Stirling district, who have found it a serviceable aid to haymaking. 

Expanding horse how
Mr A M Russell, Edinburgh, exhibits an expanding horse hoe, invented by Mr Ernest William Brown, and made by George Brown & Son, Leighton Buzzard. This hoe is made with an improved expansion, so that all tines are made parallel, no matter what position they are expanded to. Another improvement is the construction of the steel tines, which demands of 19 different feet being fitted interchangeably by one bolt. 

The motion yard 
Year by year, as science becomes more and more the handmaid of agriculture, the Motion Yard at the Highland Show grows in interest. Again there is an imposing display of all sorts of appliances to aid the farmer. To the town visitor unacquainted with farming such an array of machinery must come as something of a revelation, telling him that the tilling of the soil is not the primitive, simple operation he had deemed to be. Gas and oil have been called into supply motive power for the modern complex machinery. Nor is the wind’s aid discarded, but the present windmills are vastly superior to the old-fashioned sort with the far-spreading arms. The vast array of motors in many forms are a special feature of the exhibition. Turning to the left after passing through the main entrance at Victoria Place, the visitor to the Show comes at once upon the Motion Yard, which is easily found, betraying its locality, as it does, by the noise and clangour of wheels and pistons. The agriculturists on the outlook fore mechanical aids in his industry and the casual visitor will alike find much in this section to interest and instruct.

Scottish Motor Traction Co’s exhibit
Farm tractors and engines are included in the attractive display by the Scottish Motor Traction Co. (Ltd), Edinburgh. The agricultural tractors shown are the well-known “Titan” and “International Junior”, one of the former variety being of 20hp, and two of the latter of 28.9hp. The worth of these machines has been adequately demonstrated in recent years, and their adaptability and value are manifest to the farming community. These tractors are manufactured by the international Harvester Company of Great Britain (Ltd), whose paraffin engines and other agricultural implements are also on view at this stand. Two interesting exhibits are the “International” 3-furrow self-lifting tractor plough, with rolling disc coulters and adjustable mould boards, and an “International” ensilage cutter, with a capacity of 12 to 15 tons per hour. In view of the growing interest in ensilage in Scotland, this machine will be noted with interested. The stationary oil engines shown are complete with skids and tools. The Company hold numerous agencies for private motor cars of first-class design and manufacture, and also supply commercial motor vehicles of the latest and most approved design.

“Glasgow” tractor
Messrs Wallace (Glasgow) Ltd, display a representative collection of farm implements and machinery. The two outstanding features of their exhibit are the “Glasgow” tractor and the “Glasgow” single sleeve valve farm engine. Alike from an engineering and a farmer’s point of view the former has already thoroughly commended itself. The “Glasgow” tractor, having a three-wheel drive, transmits its power to the drawback in such measure that the manufacturers claim its greatest success is exactly where others fail-viz, under heavy conditions and on hilly land. A novel method of showing the drawbar merits of the “Glasgow” tractor is on view in the form of a large clock-like face showing the drawbar pull necessary for a two-furrow and likewise for a three-furrow plough, and further , round the dial the hand points to the drawbar pull of the “Glasgow”, showing a big reserve over what is necessary for a three-furrow plough. The single sleeve valve farm engines, which are on view for the first time at the Highland Show, are referred to under the heading of new implements. Arrangements are well forward in the factory for a large output. Messrs Wallace’s collection of their well-known specialities also includes two electric lighting sets, mowers and reapers, a potato digger, and a planter and manure sower.
Edinburgh firm’s display

With “Everything for the Farm”, as a motto, Mr James H. Steele, Edinburgh, has an excellent display of useful implements. A British Wallis tractor, fitted with special wheel studs for road haulage and other improvements, occupies a prominent place, and among new machines that also catch the eye ate the Corbett-Williams new patent root thinner, Gratton’s patent dry powder sprayer for potatoes, and Charlock & Coultas’s new manure sower for either wet or dry manures; McKenzie’s power root cutter and Edlington’s power potato sorter, Ruston & Hornsby’s new paraffin engine, binders, mowers, corn drills, trussers, Albion harvesting and barn machinery, Richmond & Chandler chaff cutters, cake mills, Petter engines, Don distributors, &c; Ransome’s tractor and horse ploughs, rakes, and potato diggers, new pattern horse fork for open or shed work, and other useful farm tools. Among the smaller goods, the “Perfect” sheaf band cutter is a useful article, the points of which every farmer who has a threshing mill will be interested to observe. 

Milling machines
The Scottish Agricultural Engine and Machine Company have an interesting display of the latest types of machines suitable for farmers and millers. Simple in design, they are also effective in use. There are ten milling machines on view, five crushers, and a double stroke oil engine is also among the specialities exhibited. It is claimed for some of the milling machines that they grind all kinds of grain for table use, as well as for cattle feeding; shell oats, grind oatmeal, and refine pot barley from rough barley. 

Some Scottish stands 
A glance at some of the other stands in this interesting section of the yard finds Scottish firms well represented. Threshing machines are included in the exhibits forward from David Page & Son, Milnathort, and Wm Baird & Co., Lasswade; and Henderson Bros, Stirling, and Auchterarder have a display of Fordson tractors and various types of Ford cars and trucks. The Ladyacre EngIneering Co., Lanark, are showing their threshing mill amongst other useful exhibits, and R. & T. Wyllie, Heugh, North Berwick, include a traction engine made by John Fowler & Co. (Ltd), Leeds. Stationary oil engines are exhibited by Alexander Shanks & Son (Ltd), Arbroath, and A. Laurie & Sons, Camelon, Falkirk, are showing end and side tipping waggons and trailers. Accessories for road making and quarrying are included in an interesting display by Fleming & Co., Robertson Street, Glasgow. A variety of engineering specialities are shown by J. R. Forrester, Paisley, including Molesley petrol engines, cream separators, and sheep shearing machines; and the Bon Accord Engineering Co (Ltd), Aberdeen, have forward a selction of the mills and implements in which they specialize. Lime washing and spraying machines are shown by Marshall & Philp, Aberdeen, and the “Samson” windmill is included in the display by John S. Millar & Son, Annan. James Crichton, Strichen, and Ford & Paterson, Broughty Ferry, have threshing machines in their stands, while the well-known “Handy” ricklifter showing all the latest improvements, is forward from William Dickie & Sons, East Kilbride. Oil engines from 3 1/2bhp to 23 bhp are shown by Allan Bros, Aberdeen. P. & R. Fleming & Co., Glasgow, have again a comprehensive display of agricultural machinery and implements, including the Case tractor in motion. P. & W. Maclellan (Ltd), Glasgow, are showing “Super Clutha” and “Clutha” steel windmills.”

The photographs were taken at the Borders vintage rally, May 2015.


Scottish agricultural implement makers in Dublin

Ireland was an important market for some of the Scottish agricultural implement and machine makers in the early twentieth century. One of the ways that they could make their manufactures more widely known was exhibiting at the Royal Dublin Society shows held in the spring and the winter in Dublin. These were important events for the display of livestock and implement makers.

While the show was an important one for Irish agricultural implement makers, there could be a strong display from Scottish makers. This is shown in the spring show of 1912. The Scotsman’s own correspondent provided a record of the Scottish farming implements on display:

“A feature of great importance to the agricultural community is the display of agricultural implements and other requirements of men concerned in tillage or breeding. Even to the ordinary visitors, the fine display of implements and machinery in motion was a great attraction. Scottish exhibitors are largely in evidence, seventeen firms being represented. Messrs William Smith & Co., New Broughton, Edinburgh, exhibit “the Standard” cattle and cart farm weigh-bridge and other weighing machines.

Messrs Alex. Ballach & Sons, agricultural engineers, Leith, show their new champion turnip sower, with discs in place of coulters, and their patent disc drill scarifier, with hoeing attachment. Messrs Alex Shanks & Son (Limited), Dens Ironworks, Arbroath, exhibit horse mowers and lawn mowers; Messrs George Sellar & Son, agricultural engineers, Huntly, plough harrows and potato diggers; Messrs Barclay, Ross & Tough, Aberdeen, thrashing machines fitted with single blast and treble riddles, and portable wheels and shafts, and a set of elevators; Thomas Hunter & Sons, Maybole, a large selection of plough harrows, horse hoes, roller drills, and rick lifters; Me Charles Weir, Strathaven, patrol motor driven threshing mill, land rollers, and double-action streamlet churn; Messrs John McBain & Son, Chirnside, Berwickshire, windmill and pumping engine; Messrs John Wallace & Sons (Limited), Glasgow, mowers and reapers, manure distributors, and turnip and mangel sowers; Messrs Alexander Jack & Sons (Limited), Maybole, the Empire potato digger, with new grip action, digging forks, turnip sower, and combined drill, grubber, and harrow; Mr Robert G. Garvie. Aberdeen, portable threshing machine and hay and straw baling machine; Mr Andrew Pollock, Mauchline, rick lifters, potato diggers, and cheese press; Messrs Watson, Laidlaw & Co., Kingston, Glasgow, cream separators; Messrs Alexander Cross & Sons (Limited), Glasgow, samples of fertilisers and feeding stuffs; Messrs T. Murdoch & Sons, Crosshouse, Kilmarnock, carts; Fleming & Co., Glasgow, rock drills; and Messrs Alley & MacLellan (Limited), Glasgow, Standard Sentinel steam motor wagon. 

It is interesting to note how many of these makers are from Glasgow and the south-west of Scotland, especially Ayrshire, which was in easier reach of Ireland than other parts of Scotland. Outwith these areas they include some of the key makers from north-east Scotland who were favoured by the Irish market: Sellar of Huntley and Garvie of Aberdeen; there are still some threshing mills around the Irish rally scene. 

The makers are also exhibiting implements and machines that are suited to Ireland, with its emphasis on animal husbandry, milk and cheese production as well as the growing and processing of crops for animal food and potato growing and harvesting. 

What Scottish agricultural implements and machines have you seen in Ireland?


A commentary on the expansion of the making of agricultural implements and machines – at Ayr in 1863

The 1860s and 1870s were two important decades for the mechanisation of Scottish and British farming. New implements and machines were being rapidly developed and used on farms. There were revolutions in the way crops, especially the most labour intensive ones, such as grain and potatoes were being sown, grown, harvested and stored. Important innovations included the development of the reaper, the steam plough, the potato spinner. 

A number of agricultural commentators wrote about the rise of agricultural implement and machine making at this time. The Scottish Farmer newspaper (not the one we know by that name today) provided a lengthy account on these changes while commenting on the implements and machines at the Ayr Show in May 1863. It is worth quoting at length for the insights it brings. It makes an interesting comment about beliefs on the introduction of implements and machines. There are comments about the increase in the number of implements and machines sold as well as reaping machines made by local makers in Ayrshire. 

“In no department of British industry has there been such marked progress of late years as in that of agricultural implement-making, and in none has there been brought to bear more energy, perseverance, skill, and ingenuity on the part of those engaged. Manufacturers of agricultural machines have had a hard up-hill battle to fight. They have had to war against prejudices strengthened by the precedents of thousands of years-prejudices consecrated like heirlooms, which it would be shame and dishonour in the sons not to transmit to posterity intact, as they had received them at the hands of their fathers. Surely it was too much in these mechanics to ask that the sickle, which had come down to the present generation almost unchanged from the days in which it was used to lay low the golden crops of Boaz, should be cast aside for the clipping or sawing apparatus of a Presbyterian clergyman, or that the picturesque and time-hallowed wooden plough, drawn by its slow oxen, or lazy sleek-sided horses, should be superseded by the savage grubber, fierce digger, or many furrowed plough, impelled by the quick impatient steam engine? In the good old days the cattle browsed the natural grasses of the thousand hills over which they roamed; why should they now be confined in courts, or chained up in stalls, to feed upon artificial meats? Even after green crop husbandry, which was certainly an unwarrantable departure from our fathers’ customs, came into practice, the beasts munched their whole turnips, and chewed their uncut straw with gusto-should we not, therefore, be wanting in respect to the memory of those who have gone before to employ pulpers and chaff-cutters to tear the turnip to pieces, and chop the straw into almost imperceptible particles, especially when the beasts themselves can accomplish this with the natural grinders?

And, again, why should farmers employ the draining plough to ensure dryness where wetness is the normal condition; and is good likely to result from a violation of nature? Our fathers knew better, and let the marshes alone to produce their rank growth of valueless vegetation, and their noiseome malaria. From the first the husbandman scattered the grains over the earth with his own capacious hands, and the crops yielded, we are told, their thirty, forty, fifty, and hundred fold; we shall adopt no new-fangled and complicated arrangement of tin-cups to deposit the seed at regular intervals in the soil. And is it not a tempting of Providence to make use of wind raised by mechanical contrivance for the separation of the grain from the chaff, instead of taking advantage of such blasts from heaven as can be secured by the opening of two opposite doors and the flapping of a couple of sheep skin wechts? Fanners are the devil’s own invention, an outrage on Christianity, as well as an offence against ancestral practice. 

Against such and such many other prejudices, “uttered or unexpressed” on the part of farmers-as well as against the greater mechanical difficulties involved in the construction of locomotive (which most agricultural machines are) as compared with stationary machines-the agricultural implement makers had to contend, and it is in the highest degree creditable to them that they have almost entirely overcome them. And the victory may be said to have been gained within the last dozen years-since the Exhibition of 1851. That international display gave an impetus to what has been called mechanical agriculture, but more properly the mechanics of agriculture, which has never been lost, but which in the interval has been greatly increased. At every show of the national agricultural societies since held, the implements have been assuming a more important position in the yard, until in Battersea, in 1862, they numbered no less than 5064 articles, all more or less connected with the science and practice of agriculture, and designed to effect saving as well as greater efficiency in the labour of the farm. 

An indication of the immense number of implements and machines now manufactured for farm use us afforded in the table published in the introduction to the report on English Agricultural Machinery by the Jurors of the late International Exhibition, and given in the Scottish Farmer of last week. The table indeed is very defective, giving only returns of certain kinds of machinery manufactured by some half-dozen of the principal firms; but still it will serve to illustrate the already vast extent and rapidly increasing importance of the agricultural implement trade. Beginning with steam-engines, we find that six firms which in 1852 turned out only 270, in 1861 manufactured 898, an increase of more than 330 per cent. Two firms, which were not in existence in 1852, or whose attention at all events had not then been directed to plough making, in 1861, sent out 9309 of these implements. 

Cultivators are of more recent introduction, and four firms, which commenced their manufacture in 1858, made in 1199 in 1861. Corn drills made by three houses have risen from 338 in 1852 to 703 in 1861; and the same number of firms sold in the latter year 383 corn horse-hoes-a number, however, smaller than sent out in previous years. The figures as to reaping machines do not afford even a hint of the real number now in use, but they sufficiently indicate the great and growing feeling in favour of reapers. The four makers who have sent in returns, in 1858 made only 32 reapers, in 1861 they sent out 1715. Hay tedders made by two firms have increased from 50 in 1852 to 721 in 1861; and the horse-rakes of five firms have risen from 611 in 1852 to 1739 in 1861. Six firms in 1852 made 327 thrashing machines, in 1861 the number they manufactured was 1084. The chaff cutters made by three firms in 1855 numbered 1004, in 1861, 4905; and corn-bruisers, by five firms, which in 1852 were but 64, in 1861 were 2680. In the report nothing is said about turnip cutters, of which we know one firm alone, the Messrs Samuelson, of Banbury, makes annually about 4000, and grain bruisers, cake breakers, turnip pulpers, sowing machines, manure drills, corn screens &c, are made in numbers equally large. And what, perhaps, is even as noticeable as the increase, is the improvement in the manufacture of implements since the first Great International Exhibition. 

And it is not alone at national and international exhibitions that agricultural implements are displayed; they now form a most interesting and instructive feature at almost all country and district shows. At the exhibition at Ayr last week, for instance, there were no fewer that 254 entries in the implement department of the catalogue. In these entries were included twenty reaping and mowing machines, three of which were sent by the Messrs Samuelson, of Banbury, through their Scottish agent, Mr Pringle-a self-delivering four-armed reaper, calculated to lay the sheaves about twelve feet apart, a very good medium distance; the “Eclipse”, a one horse reaper, of remarkable cheapness, only sixteen guineas; and a combined reaper and mower. Of the simplicity in construction and lightness of these reapers we have before had occasion to speak (see Scottish Farmer for December 31, 1862), and during last harvest we had many opportunities to report, and always favourably, upon the work done by the patent self-acting machine, which has since undergone improvements calculated to lessen the draught and obviate the chances of the gearing getting clagged up. 

The Messrs Jack, of Maybole, had six different reapers and mowers on the field, all of excellent and substantial workmanship. Two were designed to affect mechanical delivery-one by merely introducing a reel to throw off the sheaves at intervals. This arrangement we do not believe will ever come into general use; the other plan we think a great deal of. By this latter method, which is the invention of Mr Alexander Jack, the tilting board is divided into two unequal parts, united together by hinges, the portion nearest the cutter or fore end of the machine being the narrowest. The back part of the platform has an angular hinged division made in it to aid in throwing off the sheaves. The tilting board is actuated by many jointed iron arms, which derive their motion from a friction plate in connection with the driving-years, and which, at intervals varying from nine to fourteen feet, according to the nature of the crop, lift up the board and deposit the sheaf. The front part of the platform rises with double the speed with which the hind portion is depressed, an arrangement which would seem to ensure that the sheaf will be well and squarely thrown off. To prevent a short straw crop falling between the platform and the knife, a bar of wood has been placed across underneath. The machine was not completed when we saw it; it wanted a reel to bring down the crop to the cutters, and a better method for communicating the power to the automation arms than by friction will no doubt be adopted; with that addition and improvement, we have hopes that this machine will take a place among practical self-acting reapers. Another improvement we noticed on one of the Messrs Jack’s machines was a hollow cylindrical knife bar, which would appear to secure the advantages of strength and lightness at the same time.

Mr Wallace, of Fenwick, exhibited three reapers of excellent construction, and whose draught, as tested at several trials last years, is very light. One of them has a self-acting arrangement for adjusting the knife bar to the inequalities of the ground-a very useful improvement. Some knife bars are divided in the middle for the same object, but they would not overcome the difficulty of the furrow so well as Mr Wallace’s. A very curious looking reaper was exhibited by the Messrs Wallace, of Dreghorn, mounted on wheels than those of ordinary carts, the driving gear being affixed upon the axle. The fingers were large enough to admit almost half a sheaf at a time. We can say nothing in favour of this reaper, its curiosity being its only attraction. Mr Bamlett, of Ripon, whose agent in Scotland is Mr Begbie, of Haddington, showed a combined reaper and mower-an excellent machine with a tilting platform adapted to various heights; Messrs Brigham & Bickerton showed a Buckeye-a machine which is capable of good work with little expenditure of power; Messrs Brown & Young, of Stirling, showed one of their reapers “with flexible universal jointed platform”; and Messrs Young, of Young, showed a manual delivery reaper. One of Wood’s mowers, with an adaptation to turn it into a reaper, was shown by Mr McCutcheon, of Carlisle; and one or two local makers also showed reapers. On the whole, the Scotch reapers looked very substantial, but perhaps they might be made a little lighter without impairing their strength and durability. They looked rather heavy beside the English ones. 

Excellent turnip and mangold sowing machines were shown by the Messrs Young of Ayr, and the Messrs Jack, of Maybole-the merits of which were considered so equal by the judges that they agreed to divide the prize. Both do their work capitally, perhaps as well as it is possible for such machines to work. Messrs Jack also exhibited some capital grubbers; as likewise did Mr Hunter, of Maybole, who showed a large and varied collection of ploughs, harrows, and horse-hoes with side paring coulters, which were greatly admired. The judges’ report, which we give in another column, will indicate the best of the other agricultural articles shown at this very successful county show.”


A noted implement maker in Aberdeen: Reid & Leys

Reid & Leys was a well-known agricultural implement and machine maker in Aberdeen that was already in business in 1885. By 1889 it described itself as a seedsman and implement agent. A decade later it was a seedsman and implement manufacturer with implement works at Wellington Road; it became renowned for these well into the twentieth century. 

For much of the period when it traded, its sphere of influence was largely Aberdeenshire and the north of Scotland. It largely exhibited at the Highland Show when it was being held in the Aberdeen, and Inverness show districts. By the 1950s it started to attend the shows in the south of Scotland: Paisley, Kelso, Dundee, Dumfries and Edinburgh. 

The company’s manufactures included its ploughs. It also entered its “Don” tractor manure distributor” for the new implement award at the Highland Show in 1948. 

The Aberdeen press and journal provides an obituary of William Reid founder of the company on 1 May 1934: 

“The death occurred yesterday at his residence, 10 Hosefield Avenue, Aberdeen, of Mr William Reid, managing director of Messrs Reid & Leys, Ltd, seedsmen and implement manufacturers, 8 Hadden Street, Aberdeen. 
Mr Reid, who was in his eighty-third year, was widely known and highly esteemed by the agricultural community in the north. Recognised as one of the oldest and most expert seedsmen in Aberdeen and district, his advice was often sought by his fellow tradesmen.
Mr Reid’s business, the jubilee of which was celebrated two years go, has a trade that extends over a remarkably wide area. Not only does it have a connection throughout Britain and Ireland, but implements are used by customers as far distant as India and West Africa. Mr Reid, who built up his business entirely by his own efforts, was the maker of the famous Don and Aberdeen plough, which is used throughout the country.

Mr Reid was a native of Friockheim, Forfarshire, where he served his time in the seed trade. He went north at an early age and for some years was employed at Brechin. In 1879, Mr Reid started at Aberdeen the business which he directed up to the time of his death. He travelled for his firm until his eightieth year.
He was deeply interested in the North of Scotland College of Agriculture and was a keen follower of the seed trials conducted by it.
Outside his profession, Mr Reid’s greatest interest in religious work, in which he himself took no small part in Aberdeen. He was a member of the South UF Church and conducted services at the church’s mission in John Street. He also preached at various places, including the Gallowgate Mission and Morningside Hospital.
Mr Reid is survived by a son and a daughter. His son, Mr A. Maitland Reid, 32 Springfield Avenue, Aberdeen, will carry on the business in Hadden Street. Miss Reid is a school teacher in Aberdeen.


American agricultural implements and machines in Scotland

American implements and machines have had a long impact on Scottish agriculture. It is not always easy to quantify that impact. The Scotsman included an interesting article in its columns on 3 October 1903 from the perspective of the American makers who were looking to the Scottish markets and to state what had been achieved by the American makers. While the start of the article provides a general account of Scottish agriculture, the latter parts include some interesting details about how the American makers looked at Scotland and the changes they had to make to their machines so that they could operate efficiently here. It also includes some details about how extensive the use of American machinery was in Scotland. Here is the article at full length: 

“At the request of the American National Association of Agricultural Implement and Vehicle Manufacturers, a circular was addressed by the Department of State, on April 17, 1903, to the consular officers in the various countries instructing them to procure certain information as to the trade in agricultural implements and vehicles in their several districts, especially as to the share of American manufacturers therein and the best methods for the increase of the same.
Agriculture in Scotland

Mr Rufus Fleming, Edinburgh, in his report details at the outset with the characteristics of agriculture in Scotland. Speaking broadly, he says, all kinds of agricultural machines and implements suited to the requirements of the soils, crops, and climate are used by the farmers of Scotland. With few exceptions, these implements are of modern pattern; in fact, fully up-to-date in design, quality, and utility. As in preparing the soil and drilling or sowing the grain and grass crops, so in harvesting these crops, the most improved and economical machines are required, not only because they are labour saving, but also because it is necessary to successful agriculture in this country, both to make the land produce as much as possible and to gather the crop clean, almost to the last straw or blade. Most farmers, in the Lowlands at least, grow great crops of wheat, barley, oats, and other grains; a yield of 60 bushels of wheat per acre is not uncommon, and of barley from 50 to 60 bushels, while high cultivation brings as much as 80 bushels per acre of the latter. They must do it in order to make their holdings profitable, as the prices of grain are regulated by the American market, and the rent of the land is generally high, and to the same end they must utilize fully the products of the soil. For this purpose they require every practicable mechanical aid.

Farm labour
To what extent the cost of labour has influenced farmers to provide themselves with the best implements is a question to which it is not easy to find an answer. Undoubtedly the scarcity and unreliability of farm labourers have had something to do in this direction. It is a curious fact that in an over-populated country-I speak of the United Kingdom as a whole-the demand for farm labourers is always greater than the supply. The conditions of country life in Scotland for the labourer are not as severe as they were some years ago. Yet there is more discontent among the farm hands in the various trades in the cities or among the urban day-labourers. As soon as they accumulate a little money they emigrate, many of them to become prosperous farmers in the United States or Canada. I have talked with farm hands on this subject and found that it is the hopelessness of the struggle in which they are engaged that makes them discontented. By no possible thrift or effort of their own can they ever acquire title to or possession of a foot of ground, and they are always looking forward to the day when they can go to the United States or a British colony and get an opportunity to work for themselves.

Markets for implements
Scotland has an area of 19,062,482 acres, of which 4,894,466 acres are under cultivation; 112 persons own one-half of the total area, and 18 persons own one-fourth of it. It is quite apparent, therefore, that most of the farmers are occupiers under lease. The common terms of leases are fifteen and nineteen years. Special returns giving the number and size of agricultural holdings-i.e., all holdings of leased land and of land owned by the occupiers-were last collected by the Board of Agriculture in 1895. At that time the number and acreage of such holdings of cultivated land, as distinct from mountain grazings, were as follows-
Number of holdings
1 to 5 acres – 20,150
5 to 20 acres – 23,104
20 to 50 acres – 10,817
50 to 100 acres – 9,834
100 to 300 acres – 12,958
300 to 500 acres – 2070
500 to 1000 acres – 620
Over 1000 acres – 75
As compared with the returns collected in 1885, these statistics showed little change, and it is probable that if these statistics were gathererable this year they would not differ materially from the above. These figures furnish the best obtainable basis for an estimate of the possibilities of Scotland as a market for agricultural implements.

American farm implements
American farm implements have been in use in Scotland for twenty-five or thirty years-not all classes, but the practical ones. Some of our manufacturers, when they were ready for the foreign trade, studied the requirements of the British market, and adapted their contrivances to conditions in this country. In a report on this subject in 1898. I said-
When the binder was invented it commended itself at once as a labour-saving device, but it encountered difficulties in Scottish fields. There is here a heavier stand of grain than in most parts of the United States. Moreover, the farmers sow grass seed with the barley. This grass is exceedingly fine and also dense. The new reaper was a failure at first, owing chiefly to the fact that the undergrowth of grass in the barley interfered with its working. The blade of the machine was too light, and the canvases were not properly adjusted. No sooner were these defects-from a Scottish point of view-ascertained than a heavier blade was introduced and the canvasses were altered. In less than two years the American binder was an established favourite; it still holds the market. The chilled plough was not at first suited to the needs of Scottish farmers. They prefer a narrow furrow and do not deem it a good plan to turn the furrow over; they wish, rather, to set it on edge. The plough was changed to meet their ideas as to the proper way to turn up the ground, and the result was that the American plough has gained almost universal favour. American farm machinery of almost every description has had to be altered in some important respects to adapt it to the different conditions found here. Most manufacturers have been quick to make the necessary changes, and their enterprise has been abundantly rewarded. It is my information, derived from interviews with the managers of the most prominent local firms in the trade, that at the present time 70 per cent of the binders, 75 per cent of the mowers, 25 per cent of the hay rakes, from 60 to 70 per cent of the ploughs, and about 70 per cent of the cultivators and grain drills in use in Scotland were manufactured in the United States. It is said that 20 per cent of the binders are Canadian and 10 per cent English. The estimate here given of the proportion of American ploughs is confided to farms of upwards of 100 acres. On smaller holdings many of the ploughs are of local manufacture; they are made in the shops of village blacksmiths, as well as by implement manufacturers in the cities and larger towns. Our chilled ploughs are, however, constantly growing in favour, and the market for them is an expanding one. Only walking ploughs are in demand, with one wheel to the beam as a rule. The gang plough is so seldom wanted that it can hardly become a commercial item of great importance in this country. The steam ploughs and cultivators used on a few big farms are, it is said, all made in England, as well as the engines, cables, &c. In plough parts the American manufacturers have practically all the trade. This is true also of hayforks. Hoes are largely English made to American patterns; our makers do not compete in prices, although the handles are imported from America by the Sheffield manufacturers. Our hay knives have a good sale; also our snaths and handles in general. Few American harrows are sold here, as the makers have not I am told adapted to the deep cultivation required; nor ate many of our rollers imported. Our thrashing machines are not used, being regarded as too light to throw off the extraordinary weight of straw and grass in Scottish grains. According to one Edinburgh dealer, farmers are now finding fault with some patterns of American cultivators, claiming that they do not go deep enough; but, so far as I can ascertain from other sources, the tendency of trade does nor show that they have fallen out of favour. The grubber is an important implement in Scotland for tearing up the ground to any depth required. They are used on every farm, and are, I believe, all of local manufacture. Potato diggers are of Scottish and English maker. It is said by growers that the rotary-arm digger, commonly used damages the potatoes, especially the early and tender varieties: they are more satisfactory than the potato plow, but the growers are looking out for something better. Any suitable device that will not bruise the potatoes, will, if offered at a moderate price, find a good market here. Wind-mills for pumping water for stock, &c, are not as common in Scotland as in England. Streams are numerous, and, with an abundant rainfall throughout the year (often superabundant), provide an ample supply of water for general purposes on the majority of farms. I am told that most of the windmills as well as the hand pumps in use are of American manufacture; this may be too large a statement, but it is not far wrong. Our standard pumping devices have an excellent reputation and a wide sale. 

Building up American trade
During the last decade the competition among manufacturers of agricultural implements for the trade in this part of the United Kingdom has been active, especially so during the past years. The principal American makers of harvesting machines, &c, have pushed their business vigorously in rivalry with one another, and with Canadian and British companies. They sent expert sales man to assist their local agents in reaching out for trade, these salesmen making a farm to farm canvass of the country. The figures above given show that the sales have been large, and as a binder or mower in the hands of a careful Scottish farmer lasts a long time, there is now a slackness in the trade. The demand is moderate, with a downward tendency in prices. Canadian firms are exceedingly persistent and energetic. They are a factor in the problem of trade in these islands in the future which American manufacturers will have to reckon with. While our agricultural apparatus of all kinds are, as a rule, superior to the Canadian, and have gained a leading position for that reason, cheapness is likely to be in most cases when competing articles are offered the determining quantity in the commercial equation, and therefore it is only by continuing to meet the prices of all competitors that our manufacturers can maintain their supremacy in this market.

Farm vehicles
American farm waggons or carts are not sold here in any considerable number. The carts are mainly of local manufacture, being made in almost every city and village. Requiring no skilled workmanship, they are constructed cheaply, with a sole view to utility. My information is that the only reason why carts of American make are not used in Scotland is that a similar article has not been offered at the same price, A prominent dealer in farm machinery, supplies, &c, tells me that when in America a few years ago he asked the manager of a great wagon-making concern if he could manufacture farm carts for Scotland at a price which would give them a market in competition with the local makers, the manager expressed the opinion that it could not be done. On returning home this dealer sent to the American company a Scottish cart and also a lorry (used for hauling goods to and from railway freight depots), giving prices &c. Not long afterwards a letter came from the manager saying that he had figured as closely as possible on the cart and lorry proposition, and could not work out a margin of profit after adding freight. The freight charge put it just above the level of the practicable.

How to increase American trade
In regard to the most effective means of increasing the same of implements and other farm supplies, I can only suggest that the best results are likely to be obtained by the efforts of experienced American salesmen, actively co-operating with local agents in pushing trade. One good method of bringing articles to the attention of the farming community has been neglected on too many occasions by our manufacturers or their representatives on this side; I refer to exhibits at agricultural shows. These shows, general and local, are frequent in Scotland during the year and are attended by the alert, progressive farmers. Any machine, implement, or vehicle exhibited in an attractive way is well advertised, and if it has exceptional merits they will not be overlooked. A number of American concerns have taken advantage of the larger shows and now and then a minor exhibition; but if any firm or any association of implement manufacturers would make a thorough commercial campaign in this country, they should lose none of these opportunities to reach the enterprising class of agriculturists. As an agent remarked to me half a dozen implements sold to prominent farmers at such places will sell hundreds more. This has been his observation, and he is a strong advocate of exhibits at county shows and even less important occasions.”


Ploughing traditions: the love darg

Ploughing and plough men had a number of a traditions associated with them. These include the secret society of the Ploughman’s Word, Plough Sunday, and ploughing matches. 

One tradition that was known in some parts of Scotland was the love darg. Darg was the Scots work for work. This was a day’s work done for love, a gesture to show affection and recognition of an agricultural community to one of its members. This could be a farmer who had recently taken on a lease and was needing assistance with his work; it could be a woman who had recently lost her husband and needed work undertaken; it could be to thank a landowner for all his support in a community before he left it. Love dargs could take place for a number of agricultural activities, though threshing and ploughing were especially noted. 

In some parts of Scotland love dargs for ploughing were recorded from the mid 1850s until at least the start of the twentieth century and even later. One such area was Kincardineshire. One of the first dargs recorded in the local newspaper, the Stonehaven Gazette, was in February 1852: 

“A love darg – Mr Robert Sievewright, millwright, Longhills of Rickarton, having taken a course of cropping of some of the home parks, a number of his neighbours offered to give him a love darg. Accordingly on Wednesday the 28th ult, 12 ploughs appeared on the ground, and soon turned the green lea into a well ploughed field. The ploughmen were regaled with refreshments throughout the day; and in the evening, Mr Sievewright entertained the farmers and their wives to dinner and tea. Under Mr and Mrs Sievewright’s hospitable roof they spent a very comfortable evening.”

This included elements that were to be recorded in later years: the giving, free of charge, of a day’s labour to a neighbour in need; the provision of refreshments throughout the day; the giving of refreshments and sometimes entertainment in the evening after the work was undertaken. 

The ploughmen at the love dargs included farmers, though more usually farmer’s sons, and farm servants, in a district where the event was being held. 

Some of the dargs could be large. In 1855 one in the Banchory district at Broomhillocks had 37 ploughs. Another in that district had 57 ploughs. In 1856 one at Midtown of Barras had 107 ploughs. While intended to show kindness to a neighbour, they became very competitive. Indeed, some had judges and gave prizes. By the 1890s local businesses sponsored prizes. Classes included the best ploughing, the best start, the best finished, the best harness. 

The sociable nature of the dargs is summed up by an account of one at Netherley in March 1867: 

“On the afternoon of Saturday last, a number of the farmers in this district sent their ploughs to the number of fifteen to the farm of Mr Alexander Black, Lairhillock, for the purpose of giving him a friendly love-darg in forwarding his ploughing, and as a mark of respect for him as a neighbour. The weather being very suitable, the spirited ploughmen vied with each other who should be foremost in making good work. By six o’clock they had turned over upwards of seven acres in first class style. During the progress of the work, the ploughmen were liberally entertained to refreshments. In the evening, the farmers with several friends met at Lairhillock by invitation, where they partook of the well-known hospitality of Mr and Mrs black. A number of appropriate speeches and toasts were given, and after spending an hour or two together in an exceedingly agreeable manner, the company separated wishing every prosperity and a good crop to Mr Black.”

Did you remember the term love darg? Have you participated in one? 

The photographs are of the Easter Ross ploughing match, November 2016.