Smithfield was an important show in the agricultural calendar for livestock owners and agricultural implement machine makers. The North British Agriculturist referred to the Scottish exhibitors as the “Scotch colony”. It continues at length:
“The “Scotch colony” of exhibitors were all located conveniently near each other in a corner of the hall. All the Scotch firms usually represented at this show had forward a large collection of their products, with the exception of Messrs Ben Reid & Co., of Aberdeen, which firm did not this year send any exhibits, but Mr Anderson was there pushing his business with all his accustomed force and success. On the other hand, however, the Scotch colony had this year got anew recruit in the person of Mr McJannet, who had a stand on which he exhibited one of his well-known weigh0bridges. Mr Elder, of Berwick, was also well represented at the stand of the Massey-Harris Co., where he exhibited a number of his well-known appliances which are so highly appreciated by British agriculturists. Messrs J. Wallace & Sons, of Graham Square, Glasgow, exhibited a selection of Oliver ploughs, which formed one of the most attractive features in the implement section. These ploughs, which might well be called editions de luxe of the ordinary Oliver ploughs, were decorated in a most artistic fashion, though in every other respect they were precisely identical with the Oliver plough supplied by this firm for ordinary use. The merits of the Oliver plough are now too widely recognized and appreciated all the world over to require any eulogium at this time of day. The firm also showed one of their well-known mowers and reapers, and also a potato digger which embodies several improvements.
Messrs Jack & Sons, Maybole, showed one of their well-known reapers and mowers, which are now so widely used all over the country. They also showed a strong but light farm cart, fitted up with “fore and aft tops”, which are specially designed for enabling heavy loads of hay or straw to be taken through narrow entries, as well as to be conveniently moved along the crowded streets. These carts have from the first been largely used by the Scotch colonists in England, and even the English farmers, who are rather conservative in their modes of practice, are now adopting them in place of the heavy waggons to which they formerly stuck so tenaciously. Messrs Jack & Sons also exhibited their potato digger, in which there has been quite a boom since it was exhibited for the first time at the Smithfield Show last year. Last season the firm turned out 150 of these diggers, and not only were these all sold, but the firm were wholly unable to adequately meet the demand for this new digger.
Messrs Kemp & Nicholson, of Stirling, showed their turnip-cutting cart, which should be an indispensable requisite to every farm where sheep receive turnips on the pastures. This cart is geared with a turnip slicer, by means of which the roots are sliced and automatically distributed as the cart is moved forward. The merits of this labour-saving machine are too obvious to require enlarging upon. Messrs Kemp & Nicholson also showed a seed drilling machine of excellent design and construction. Mr Thos Hunter, of Maybole, exhibited his well-known turnip-topping and tailing machine, which has invariably carried premier honours in any competition for this class of machine at which it was exhibited, and only a few weeks ago it was awarded the prize in the competition carried out by the Northumberland Agricultural Society. Now that labour has become so scarce and costly, this machine should be recognized as an indispensible in the equipment of every up-to-date farm. Mr Hunter also exhibited his well-known Hunter hoe, which almost every turnip-grower has learned to appreciate very fully.
Mr McJannet, the indefatigable champion of the weigh-bridge, is largely in evidence. His stand, which is occupied by a “McJannet” weigh-bridge and cattle cage, the same as are fitted up at the Royal Farms at Windsor, did not occupy much space, but all the day long it was surrounded by a crowd of stock-owners who were interested in the buying and selling of cattle by live-weight, and who had evidently caught the enthusiasm with which the laird of OverInzievae expatiated on the advantages of the weighbroidge. Mr McJannet has this week published a small handbook containing his tables of the relative percentages of dead to live weight, and containing also copies of testimonials received from many stock-owners, who write in very enthusiastic terms respecting the “McJannet” weigh-bridge, which, like that of the Messrs Pooley, is priced at £16.
Among others, Mr R. Brydon, commissioner to the Marquis of Londonderry, writes-“We are well pleased with the weigh-bridge and cattle cage we had from you.” Mr Malcome, Dunmore, writes:-“The cattle cage and binder which you supplied me with are giving me every satisfaction. They are very strong, and can resist the wildest bullock. I think no farmer dealing among cattle should be without one, and I am weighing all my cattle and selling them direct to the butcher.”
Readers will recognise a number of the names of makers as key makers that continued well into the twentieth century. They also continued to be known names at the Smithfield Show for many years.
William Rae & Sons, Port Road, Inverurie Reekie Engineering Co. Ltd, Lochlands Works, Arbroath Benjamin Reid & Co., engineers, agricultural implement makers, and millwrights, Bon Accord Works, Justice Mill Lane, Aberdeen D. H. & F. Reid, Victoria Bridge, Ayr, Ayrshire James Reid, millwright and engineer, Bridgend Works, Dingwall, Ross-shire William Reid, 34 Longrow, Campbeltown, Argyllshire Reid & Leys, seedsmen and implement manufacturers; warehouse 8 Hadden Street; implement works, Back Hilton Road, Aberdeen Matthew Reid & Co., forge masters, Townholm, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire David Ritchie (Implements) Ltd, Whitehills, Forfar John Ritchie (thrashing machines), Bowmont Engine Works, Kelso, Roxburghshire John Robertson, implement maker, Conon Bridge, Ross-shire Robertson & McLaren, Burnside Works, 19 Lower Craigs, Stirling, Stirlingshire Rollo Industries Ltd, St Andrew’s Works, Bonnybridge, Stirlingshire The Rose Street Foundry & Engineering Co. Ltd, 2-20 and 3-15 Rose Street and 2 Shore, Inverness Harry Ross, Overton-Elchies, Craigellachie, Morayshire James Rugg, Keiss, Wick, Caithness A. M. Russell, wire netting manufacturer, 108-112 West Bow, Grassmarket, Edinburgh Ryeside Agricultural and Engineering Works, Dalry, Ayrshire
What a roll-call of makers under the letter r! We have focused on some of the major makers in previous posts. We will look at some of the names that we haven’t featured much or at all.
D. Ritchie, Whitehills, Forfar, is first recorded as advertising in the Scottish Farmer on 8 February 1930. By 1933, the first year that it exhibited at the Royal Highland Show, the company was known as David Ritchie & Sons, Whitehills, Forfar, Angus. A further change in the organisation of the company took place in 1954 so that it became a company limited by guarantee as David Ritchie (Implements) ltd, Whitehills. It manufactured and sold a variety of agricultural implements and machines.
John Robertson, Conon Bridge, Ross-shire was an implement maker and smith, who continued in business until May 1926 when he was sequestrated. He was a maker and a patentee of implements and machines to harvest the grain crop.
Rollo Industries Ltd, St Andrew’s Works, Bonnybridge, Stirlingshire, was closely associated with the Rollo croftmaster tractor, invented by John M. Rollo and made by that company. It was entered as a new implement at the Highland Show in 1956. A year after the company started to exhibit at the show. The company petitioned to wind up in 2003.
Robertson & McLaren, is a name that is firmly associated with Stirling from 1920 until the mid 1950s. By the 1930s it described itself as agricultural engineers and dairy outfitters and later as agricultural and dairy engineers. In 1951 the company used the strapline “The farmer’s firm”. It was a maker of implements and machines as well as a dealer. As a maker it won a silver medal from the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland for the ‘Victory hay ricker’ in 1921. Invented by Geo. Paterson, farmer, Wester Frew, Kippen, it was described as ‘a new implement for collecting and ricking hay’. It was an agent for makers such as Barford, Bentall and Bisset in 1948 and in 1952 for David Brown. It was a regular advertisier in the Scottish agricultural press. It only infrequently exhibited at the Highland Show, and usually only in the local show districts, though in 1951 it found its way to Aberdeen.
William Rae & Sons, Port Road, Inverurie was a local agricultural implement maker and manufacturer as well as mechanical engineer and smith who is recorded in agricultural directories from at least the early 1920s to the mid 1950s. He was most well-known as a maker of turnip sowing machines, harrows, and grubbers.
D. H. & F. Reid, Victoria Bridge, Ayr, Ayrshire, continued in business from around 1905 until the mid 1930s. While it described itself as engineers, it was also an agricultural engine manufacturer, and a millwright. Its business was largely a local one – it only exhibited at two Highland Shows, in 1914 in Hawick and 1919 in Edinburgh – though in the 1920s and 1930s it was a regular advertiser in the Scottish agricultural press, both the Scottish Framer and the North British Agriculturist.
A key part of its busines was acquired in 1912. On 4 July 1912 the North British Agriculturists notes that D. H. & F. Reid, engineers, Ayr, has acquired the goodwill of the oil engine and thrashing machine manufacturing business carried on in Annan by Eric Nicholson & Co. Ltd, Annan. They have removed the business to Ayr and are now manufacturing the Annan oil engines and thrashing machines at their works at Victoria Bridge, Ayr.
John Scarth, Ayre Road, Kirkwall, Orkney Islands Alexander Scott, North Street, Strichen, Aberdeenshire Alexander Scott, Caledonian implement Works, St Ninian’s, Stirling Thomas Scott & Co. Ltd, iron, steel and hardware merchants, 51, 53, 55, 57 and 59 Grassmarket, Edinburgh Scottish Agricultural Industries Ltd, Rosehall, Haddington, East Lothian Scottish Aviation Ltd, Prestwick Airport, Ayrshire Scottish Farm Implements, Ltd, Crosshouse, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire Scottish Mechanical Light Industries Ltd, 42-44 Waggon Road, Ayr Scoular & Co., farm implement makers, Haddington, East Lothian John Scoular & Co., Implement Works, Stirling George Sellar & Son, Huntly, Aberdeenshire John Shand (ploughs &c), Lochill, Urquhart, Morayshire Alex Shanks & Son Ltd, oil engines for agricultural use, Dens Iron Works, Arbroath Shearer Brothers (thrashing machines & drills), Maybank, Turriff, Aberdeenshire John F. Shepherd & Son, Inchbare, Strathcathro, Brechin Thomas Sheriff & Co., agricultural engineers, West Barns, East Lothian Shearer Brothers (threshing machines), Maybank Works, Balmellie Street, Turriff, Aberdeenshire James Simpson & Son (seed sowers), 14 Prince Street, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire William Sinton, Churn Works, 36 Bedford Road, Edinburgh Thomas Smail, Jedburgh, Roxburghshire Smith Brothers & Co., Kingston Engine Works, Park Street, Kinning Park, Glasgow George Souter, smith and implement maker, 125 Liff Road, Lochee, Dundee James H. Steele, ‘Everything for the Farm’, Harrison Road, Edinburgh James Stephen (grubbers, harrows and ploughs), Garden Lane, Buckie, Banffshire David Stephenson (thrashing machines, reapers, mowers &c), Rosehall, Haddington, East Lothian James Stevens (ploughs &c), Bannockburn, Stirlingshire William R. Storie, agricultural engineer, Kelso, Roxburghshire William Storie & Son, implement makers and agents, Lanton, Jedburgh, Roxburghshire G. D. L. Swann & Son, dairy engineers and outfitters, 32-36 Abercrorn Street, Glasgow
As we go through the A. to Z. we are seeing some great names of renowned Scottish agricultural implement and machine makers. This week is no exception.
Again, we will look at some of the names that may not be as well known.
William Sinton was a major name in the Scottish dairy world. He started his business as a cooper in Jedburgh, Roxburghshire by 1870. By 1880 he described himself as a churn manufacturer and then as a patent churn manufacturer. By 1903 his sons had joined him in business. By 1914 he moved the Waverley Churn Works to 36 Bedford Road, Edinburgh, where they remained until at least 1929. The business was a regular advertiser in the Scottish agricultural press and attended the Highland Show throughout Scotland. William applied for a patent in 1870 for the invention of ‘improvements in churns’. He won two silver medals for his collection of churns by the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland in 1870 and 1872.
James Simpson, was in business as a cart and ploughwright, Princes Street, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire from at least 1846. By 1858 his business became known as James Simpson & Co., Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, a name that continued to be associated with Peterhead until 1930 when it changed to James Simpson & Son (Peterhead) Ltd. This was a name that continued to be known until at least the 1950s – according to directories.
In the 1870s the company started to describe itself as agricultural implement makers. Its speciality was seed sowers. This was a speciality that continued until at least 1928. By that time it was also noted for its harrows and grubbers. While it had made carts from the 1840s, by the 1920s it started to be a motor car body maker; the following decade saw it also as a motor engineer and garage.
The business frequently exhibited at the Highland Show from 1858. In that year it was awarded 4 sovereigns for best one horse farm cart. In 1877 it was the inventor of the new broadcast sowing machine for grain and grass seeds.
Shearer Brothers, Maybank Works, Railway Station, Turriff, later of Balmellie Street, Turriff undertook business from at least 1876 until 1972; on 18 July 1972 the company passed a special resolution to voluntarily wind up the company. The final winding up meeting was held on 29 August 1972. The company undertook a number of trades and was an agricultural engineer, an agricultural implement maker, a machinery maker, a mechanical engineer, millwright and later a motor engineer. It was active in promoting its manufactures: exhibiting at the Highland Show from 1876 until 1939. It was awarded a medium silver medal for foot power thrashing machine in 1876. It also entered into the trial of machines for cleaning all sorts of grain and other seeds from weeds in 1884. It was also regular advertiser in the North British Agriculturist from 1884 onwards. The company manufactured a range of threshing mills. In 1876 it manufactured a foot power thrashing machine which it described as a new invention. By 1881 it manufactured its “Advance” thresher for foot and hand power and the “Simplex” rotary fanner. By the following year it was also manufacturing a small hand thresher with adjustable feeder. These continued to be its main manufactures for following years. To these were added the new “Paragon” dressing and screening machine in 1887.
In the early 1850s if you heard the name “Scoular’ you would have associated it with the company of Scoular & Co. agricultural implement makers at Haddington. In 1857 Mr Scoular retired in favour of Kemp, Murray & Nicholson of Stirling who had taken a lease of their premises and purchased the whole stock in trade, machinery, patterns and working plant. By the early 1870s there were a number of members of the Scowler family around Stirling that worked as implement makers. James Scoular of Woodside, Kippen, made ploughs, drills as well as a collection of implements. There was also John Scoular of Crook Smithy, Stirling, who continued in business until at least 1910.
John Scoular was an important implement maker and was also internationally known. By the early 1870s his smithy had expanded into the Crook Implement Works where it became noted for its harrows, rollers, horse rakes and other implements. The trades carried on were as agricultural engineers. agricultural implement makers, engineers and iron founders, machinists, smiths and farriers. The company was a regular exhibitor at the Highland Show, exhibiting from 1871 until 1910. It exhibited around each of the show districts, exposing its implements to farmers throughout Scotland. It was also a regular advertiser in the Scottish farming press, especially the Scottish farmer from 1893 onwards.
The company was also an innovative one. From the early 1880s it was a frequent entrant to the Highland Society’s trials of implements and machines. In 1881 it entered at the trial of potato diggers and the trial of turnip lifters. In the following year it entered for the trial of horse rakes. In 1885 it entered for the trial of cultivator harrows as well as implements for the autumn cultivation of stubbles. In 1889, it entered in the trial of hay and straw trussers. The North British Agriculturist gave a detailed description of John Scoular in 1893. It reads:
“Mr John Scoular is the fourth son of the late David Scoular, the well-known plough maker of Forest Mill, Clackmannanshire. Mr Scowler began business on his own account twenty-seven years ago, and pushed his trade with such energy that his name was soon known in all the principal agricultural districts of Great Britain, including Ireland and the remote islands of Scotland. After establishing a large home trade, he next turned his attention to export business, cultivating it with the same diligence, so that in a few years he formed connections in many different quarters of the globe. In 1881 he was invited by a number of the principal merchants and farmers of Natal, South Africa, to visit their colony and see their ways of cultivation for himself, so that he might better understand their requirements. He accepted the invitation, and on his arrival in Natal he received a warm welcome from his friends there, and profited greatly by his journey. Mr Scoular has also large dealings with the south-east of Europe, and he has travelled seven times there, visiting the extensive wheat plans of Bessarabia, Roumania, Bulgaria and Hungary. He claims he is now the largest harrow maker in Scotland. and there are few counties where his hay rakes cannot be found at work.”
D. T. Paterson, Sinclair’s Hill, Duns, Berwickshire George Paul & Co., Duncarron Iron Works, Denny, Stirlingshire A & J Paxton, poultry appliance manufactures, Airdrie Robert Paxton, agricultural implement maker and agent, Waverley Terrace, Bonnyrigg Paxton & Clark Ltd, agricultural implement makers, Waverley Terrace, Bonnyrigg, Midlothian Wm Philip & Son, Mount Pleasant Works, Catherine Street, Kirkcaldy, Fife W. Philip & Son (Kirkcaldy) Ltd, Catherine Street, Kirkcaldy, Fife A & W. Pollock Ltd, agricultural implement works, Mauchline, Ayrshire Henry Pooley & Son Ltd, 69 McAlpine Street, Glasgow, and Leith Walk, Edinburgh A & M. Pottie (ploughs, harrows, grubbers &c), St James’ Place, Paisley, Renfrewshire David Proctor (mowers, reapers, thrashers, churns &c), Hill Street, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire
We have some big players under the letter P.
Pollock of Mauchline, which survives today as Pollock Farm Equipment Limited. Its roots go back to 1867 when Andrew Pollock started a shop in the Cowgate, Machine. By 1877 his address was the “Implement and Machine Works, Mauchline”. He was an agricultural implement maker, a smith and a smith and farrier.
Andrew quickly recognised the importance of providing farmers with a broad range of implements and machines. In addition to making his own ones, he also acted as an agent for other makers. By 1886 he acted for W. N. Nicholson & Son, Newark on Trent, famous for their horse rakes. In later years he also sold manufactures from other of the makers such as Thomas Corbett, Perseverance Iron Works, Shrewsbury, and Harrison, McGregor & Co. Ltd, Leigh, Lancashire. All are major English makers. Andrew became well-renowned for his own manufactures, winning a number of awards for them. But it was those implements for cultivation of the soil, hay and straw trussers, potato diggers and cheese presses that he was especially known, even well through the twentieth century. His manufactures were, according to the North British Agriculturist in 1893, “characteristically those designed for farming as carried on in Ayrshire and the adjoining counties”. He was also an inventor, applying for two patents in relation to his machine for topping and tailing turnips in 1878.
He was well-known throughout the implement-making community of Scotland, also exhibiting his manufactures at major agricultural shows including the Highland Show where he was a regular exhibitor from 1875 onwards.
The development and reputation of his business was summed up by the North British Agriculturist in 1893. It noted how “Mr Andrew Pollock has worked his way up from the position of a local blacksmith to that of possessing one of “tidiest little” implement businesses in the west of Scotland”.
By the time Andrew died in 1904 he had a well-regarded and successful business. His widow, Mrs Martha Jamieson or Pollock, carried on the business until it was transferred to his sons Andrew and William, to form A. & W. Pollock on 31December 1912.
In the 1920s Pollock was renowned for rick lifters, potato diggers, hay and straw baling machines. In later years it was agent for a number of major English makers including Albion, Bamfords, Alfa-Laval, New Holland and Clayson.
The company was an innovative one. In 1935 it entered its ricklifter and low loading float combination for the New Implement award at the Highland Show. This was followed by a powerdrive hay tedder, invented by John R. Pollock, in 1959. In 2019 Pollock Farm Equipment was awarded a silver medal by the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland for its Pollock Rope Scraper System.
Henry Pooley & Son Ltd, 69 McAlpine Street, Glasgow, and Leith Walk, Edinburgh, was The company was founded around 1790 to make scale beams, and continued in business into the second half of the twentieth century. It became the biggest manufacturer of weighing machines in its time. Their range and diversity was extensive. In 1877 the company described itself as “patentees and manufacturers of every description of weighing apparatus for railways, ironworks, collieries, etc. A few years later in 1870 this description was “patentees and manufacturers of every description of weighing apparatus for agricultural purposes &c”. By 1984 we clearly see the wide range of sectors which the company made weighing machines for: “every description of weighing apparatus for railways, iron works, engineers, collieries, mills, warehouses, farms &c”. In later years by 1913 it was a maker of “every description of weighing machines and scales”.
The range of trades carried out by the company was also significant. Between 1880 and 1914 the company variously undertook the following trades which included: agricultural implement maker and agent; agricultural implement manufacturer; beam and scale maker; colliery plant manufacturer; contractor; contractors’ plant maker; engineer; iron founder; machine maker and millwright; machinist; mechanical engineer; mill furnisher; millwright; railway plant contractor; railway plant merchant; scale beam maker; scale, beam and steelyard maker; scale and weight manufacturer; shoplifter; steelyard manufacturer; weigh bridge manufacturer; weighing machine maker.
The company was not only a key player in England, but also in Scotland and internationally, also acting as contractors to H.M. Government, British and foreign railways by 1905. In Scotland it had an extensive network of branches which allowed it to have a wide, and local presence, throughout the country. By 1875 the first of these was in Glasgow, at 113 West Nile Street, an address it remained at until 1879, when it moved to 41 Hope Street. By 1884 it had established a head office and works in Scotland, the Albion Works, at 69 and 71 McAlpine Street, Glasgow. The company also had other addresses in Glasgow: they included Paisley Road (1895), 25 South Kinning Place (1903), and 21 Stockwell Street (1909). Other towns quickly had a branch establishment of Pooley’s. By 1877 there were ones at Dunfermline, Fife and Aberdeen. In 1880 there were mechanics stationed in Edinburgh, Dunfermline and Dundee. There was a branch at Inverness in 1901 and at Perth in 1904.
The company maintained a strong presence in the agricultural community. It was a regular attender at the Highland Show from 1876 onwards. It was also a regular advertiser in the Scottish agricultural press from 1876. It also actively participated in the trials of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. For example, in 1887 it was awarded £10 for its cart and cattle weighing machines, and in 1893 also won £10 in the Society’s weigh bridge competition. It also won awards for its exhibits at the Highland Show. In 1876 it won a silver medal for its patent three ton self-contained agricultural cart weighing machine, as well as a silver medal for its general collection.
D. T. Paterson, Sinclair’s Hill, Duns, Berwickshire, continued in business from at least 1901 until at least 1939. Paterson was a smith and farrier. He was well known for his windmills. In the first decades of the twentieth century these were from the Aeromotor Co., Chicago. He was a regular exhibitor at the Highland Show until 1939 as well as a regular advertiser in the Scottish farming press – the Scottish Farmer and the North British Agriculturist.
The Highland Show provides a glimpse into the latest agricultural implements and machines in a. year. Scottish makers were keen to have their latest developments and innovations on show. They also wanted to ensure that customers were aware of their bread-and-butter manufactures as well.
Newspaper accounts of the implement department of the Highland Show usually include detailed descriptions of the various stands held by the implement makers. They also tended to focus on what was new, what was to be noted and the general trends to be observed in the implement department. Such accounts can help us chart periods of great innovation nd developments and periods of stagnation. One period of difficulty was the extensive depression that continued from the late 1870s to the first decade of the twentieth century. It was characterised by huge imports of foreign produce, especially grain, which suppressed the demand for local Scottish and UK produce. This led to a reduction in the acreage under crops, the need for implements and machines to work the land. Also, there was a reduced demand for workers. However, costs were also increasing, with some demand for innovation in machinery. However, farmers ere careful of their purse, having less to invest.
The Highland Show in 1904, coming towards the end of an extensive period of depression makes an interesting read. The Scotland writes of the the Show:
While there is much to interest and instruct, and a good deal that deserves the attention of agriculturists, there are no absolute novelties in the implement section, manufacturers in recent years being more employed in effecting minor improvements in existing implements than in investing new ones. But small and simple as these improvements may appear, they are in many cases of considerable importance, being directed, for the most part, to simplifying the gear, lightening the draft, and securing increased durability. The Society, as has already been stated, have arranged for the trial of agricultural motors, and two competitors have entered machines-Mr John Scott, Edinburgh, and the Ivel Agricultural Motors (Limited), London. It was at first intended that there should be a trial in a hayfield during the show week, but this was afterwards found to be impracticable, and it was decided to hold the trial during the harvest, and that the machines should be tried in cutting grain, in ploughing, and in general tillage. The importance of the implement industry in the economy of the farm is well illustrated by largeness of the area set apart for the display of exhibits of machinery and appliances for expediting the work of the agriculturist, the space allotted to the stands being 6000 feet. In an important centre like Perth it was unlikely that the show of implements would not be of a representative character, and a walk round the stands to-day demonstrated that in every way the exhibition is worthy of the Society, and of the occasion which brings so many different types and specimens of implements of husbandry together. The exhibits number 1972, being 138 more than at Dumfries last year, and slightly in excess of those at Perth in 1896. First in the list of exhibitors stands Mr William J. Elsey, Murrayfield, Edinburgh, who has on view a number of corn and seed dressing machines, in one of which the blowing is quite independent of and apart from the riddling. They also show sets of fanners, fitted with Elsey’s patent blowing apparatus, and grass and clover seed machines, the under screens of which have a peculiar
jumping motion. Messrs William Reid & Leys, Aberdeen, are represented by “Highland” and “Don” ploughs, spring tooth cultivators, and horse hoes, which show many improvements. Messrs Thomas Sheriff & Co., West Barns, Dunbar, show several of their well-known corn drills, broadcast sowing machines, and manure distributors, which have been improved in several particulars, and are now of great utility to the farmer. A good display of implements is made by Mr A. Pollock, Mauchline, who work has long been famed for excellence and durability. He has on show a variety of hay collectors and bogies, a potato digger which has proved itself effective for the work for which it was designed, carts of sound construction, reapers and mowers, hay and straw presses, cheese presses, and curd mills, all of marked utility. A large and comprehensive stand is that of Messrs H. W. Mathers & Sons, Errol. They show an assortment of mowers, binders, ploughs, and cultivators, all of which are of tried serviceability. From Messrs Macdonald Brothers, Portsoy, have come a one-horse self-acting back-delivery reaper, an “Ideal” manure distributor, a turnip lifter, wheel barrows, and a roadside paring machine. Messrs A. Newlands & Son, Linlithgow, have a large collection, prominent among which is their spring tooth cultivator. This machine is made in three sections, and each section is operated upon by one spring which gives the necessary vibration. Potato diggers, horse rakes, ploughs, manure distributor, drill grubbers, and harrows are included among their other exhibits. Mr George Barker, Perth, shows a varied selection of machines and implements, embracing the “Sutherland” patent thistle cutter, which has been greatly improved. Messrs Wm Elder & Sons, Berwick, have a large display, comprising a great variety of implements, including ploughs, cultivators, sowing machines, harvesting machines, hay bogies, turnip toppers, tailers and slicers and a patent thistly cutting machine. Messrs J D Allan & Sons, Murthly, in a large variety of appliances, show their farmyard manure spreader. This machine when working is fitted with two light wheels. One goes on the top of the drill and the other in the furrow. It can be regulated to any breadth, and can put down manure from ten to twenty tons per acre. It is an ingenious and useful invention. Prominent among the splendid collection of Thomas Hunter & Sons, Maybole, are the far-famed Hunter hoes, which are fitted up to serve the threefold purpose of a cultivator, a scarifier,
and a moulding-up plough. Also on view are the equally well-known Hunter ploughs and topping and tailing machines, as well as a variety of rollers, turnip drills, and double drill scarifiers. A couple of useful potato-dressing machines for filling baskets and bags are exhibited by Mr David Wilson, Riccarton, Linlithgow, who also shows boxes for sprouting seed potatoes. Messrs Rollo & Creighton exhibit samples of their manufactures in wheels, spokes, and hubs, which are made from the best home timber and are of excellent workmanship. They have also on view a new design in ornamental oak gates suitable for policies and public parks. Messrs J & R Wallace,
Castle Douglas, exhibit a new machine in the form of a sheep dipper. The new machine is a perforated cage, into which the sheep enters and is lowered feet downwards in the dip. The machine is so arranged that two men only are required to work it. The firm have also on exhibition their patent manure distributors, which have acquired an excellent reputation. “Express” cultivators, “Excelsior” hoes, improved horse rakes and harrows are shown in great profusion by Messrs John Scoular & Co., Stirling. Messrs Kemp & Nicholson have at their stand a very large assortment of implements which should attract attention by reason of their excellence of construction and efficiency in working. Messrs John Wallace & Sons, Glasgow, have a fine display of the well-known implements with which the name of the firm has long been associated Among a variety of appliances they show the world-famed “Oliver” chilled ploughs, their champion potato digger, and thistle mowers and reapers. Messrs J. Bisset & Sons (Limited), Blairgowrie, shows specimens of their famous “Bisset” binders, mowers, and reapers; the “Speedwell” back delivery reaper, “Champion” Empire potato diggers, and a potato planter. Mr Matthew Dunlop, Glasgow, shows “Royal” reapers and mowers, “Lion” horse rakes, and a number of other machines made by Bamford & Sons. Messrs Gray & harrower, Alloa, display “Plano” binder, mower and reaper; hay rakes, and sickle grinders. Messrs Alexander Jack & Sons (Limited), Maybole, exhibit attractive specimens of their specialities, which, on account of their reliability, are now more freely requisitioned than ever in all parts of the world. As makers of harvesting machinery, they exhibit
an effective hay rake, and samples of their well known “Empire” combined reapers and mowers, a light Anglo American rake, the “Dandy” samples of English and American tedders, and the McCormick binder, fitted with ball and roller bearings. Manure distributors are a leading speciality with Messrs Jack. Their chain delivery distributor, of which an 8 feet size is staged, is useful in dealing with basic slag, ground lime, and similar dry manures. Their newest product in this line is the “Empire” combination force feed and revolving disc delivery artificial manure distributor with new patented improvements for 1904, which is exhibited for the first time at the Highland Show. The firm’s reputation in potato diggers is well known. The Caledonian, which gained the first prize of £20 at the latest R.A.S.E. field trials in 1896, has been much enhanced in value by the addition of ball and roller bearings and a new system of draught by chain from underneath the centre of the machine. Messrs Jack’s cart and van making department is represented by a couple of nicely finished farm carts, sample spring vans and chapel carts and a smart, substantially-built lorry. The “Dux” ploughs, for which Messrs Jack are sole agents, and which are manufactured for them specially to suit the requirements of North British agriculturists, are shown in three patterns, both single and double furrow. A. & J. Main & Co. Limited, Edinburgh, occupy one of the largest and best arranged stands on the ground. Their specialities include several samples of the new patent “Deering” ideal binder. There is also on exhibition the famous “Deering’ ideal two horse mowers, which contain several improvements, including that of a higher
speed. Amongst the collection there is also on exhibition for the first time the “Deering” ideal two horse mower, which has been fitted with a special bar, making the machine a combined grass cutter, and also converting it into an efficient thistle and bracket cutter. Attention may also be called to the “Deering” all steel hay rake, the leading feature of which is the use of high grade steel, resulting in great strength, with extreme lightness in draught. The firm also display the new Empire cultivator of their own manufacture (which has just been awarded the special silver medal of merit, from the East Lothian United Agricultural Society), which is specially designed for the deep cultivation of heavy and clay lands. This implement can also be used as a three drill grubber, and as a three drill ridging plough, and will perform from eleven to thirteen acres per day with one pair or horses. A new machine for distributing farm yard manure is also shown, which will spread any desired quantity of manure uniformly and without leaving any bare spots. A selection of Empire collapsible grinders are shown, which are equipped with ball bearings, making them very easy to work. Messrs John Doe Limited, Errol and Perth, have on exhibition “Plano” lever binders, and a number of well known harvesters and binders, reapers and mowers, horse rakes, and cultivators. Mr J. Campbell jun, Coupar Angus, has sent forward how potato planter and potato digger, which should be found useful to potato growing farmers. Messrs Milne and Macdfonald, Lockerbie, show “Adriance” binders, mowers, and makes, and a “Dux” plough. A good display is made by Messrs Georrge Sellar & Son, Huntly, their ploughs, grubbers, harrow, drill scufflers, broadcast and turnip sowers, and horse rakes commanding attention for their superiority of workmanship, Messrs David Steele & Son, Folwlis Easter, Dundee, have on view a large assortment of machines, including hoe grain drill, turnip sowers, hay collectors, and McCormick harvesters and binders.
One of the most extensive stands in the showyard is that of the well-known form of Messrs Thomas Gibson & Son, Bainfield Iron Works, Edinburgh, and it occupies a conspicuous place near the official pavilions. It has a run of 80 feet, and contains about 140 articles, the enumeration of which fills over six pages of the catalogue. Their ornamental ironwork is always an outstanding part of their display, and it is seen here in many elegant forms of entrance gates. There are also numerous specimens of wrought-iron and wirework in artistic designs, and adapted to a variety of purposes. More immediately connected with agriculture are their corn rick stands, field gates, bar fences, and sheep fodder racks, which have now been familiar on the market for a considerable time; while their carriage gates, garden rollers, ornamental archways and other garden articles are not only ornate in appearance, but of beautiful workmanship, and of real practical utility. Among dairy appliances, Mr john Grey, Stranraer, has a near display of cheese vats of different sizes and other appliances essential to a well-equipped dairy. A feature of the exhibit of the Dairy Supply Company, Grassmarket, Edinburgh, is their cream separators, their turbine separators capable of dealing with from 65 to 150 gallons per hour, and their steam turbine pasteurizers, together with a collection of useful dairy utensils. An extensive assortment of churns, butter workers, and laundry appliances is to be found on the stand of Messrs Thomas Bradford & Co., Salford. The other exhibitors include Messrs William Sinton & Sons, Waverley Cheese Works, Jedburgh.
Accounts such as this are helpful in shedding light on the state of Scottish agricultural implement making at a difficult time.
James F. Ogg, Bridge of Muchalls, Stonehaven, Kincardineshire Jack Olding & Co. (Scotland) Ltd, Coronation Works, Coupar Angus, Perthshire (1951) Andrew Oliver, Allanton, Chirnside, Berwickshire John Oswald & Son 14 Damacre Road, Brechin, Angus (1922)
James F. Ogg, Bridge of Muchalls, Stonehaven, was an agricultural engineer, implement, machinery and equipment dealer. Directories record him at work in the 1950s and early 1960s. He exhibited at the Highland Show of 1951 at Aberdeen. He also advertised in the Scottish Farmer in the mid 1950s.
John Oswald of Brechin already had a shop at 14 Damacre Road, Brechin, in 1922. The company was a cycle agent and dealer, a motor cycle agent and dealer as well as a smith. He exhibited at the Highland Show in 1948 in Inverness, in 1949 in Dundee and in 1952 at Kelso. He was most well-known for his ‘Allways’ three way hydraulic tipping trailer, which he won a silver medal for at the Highland Show of 1948.
Jack Olding & Co. (Scotland) Ltd, of the Coronation Works, Coupar Angus, Perthshire, is a name that is known to a number of readers. The company is recorded in directories from 1951 onwards. By 1952 the company also had branches at Bucksburn and at Huntly. By 1960 these were extended to Perth, Coupar Angus, Aberfeldy, Bucksburn, Huntly and Mintlaw. By 1966 its works had been moved to the Glencairn Works, Perth.
The business undertook a range of activities as agricultural engineers, implement, machinery and equipment dealers. The name of Olding is best associated with Massey Ferguson. You can still see a number of Ferguson tractors around the rally fields with Olding badges.
The company was a regular attender to the Highland Show from 1951. It entered the Jack Olding grain dryer for the new implement award of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society in 1961. It was also a regular advertiser in the farming press.
The Lothians was a chief potato growing district, especially for potatoes for the table. Some districts such as Dunbar, were renowned, for example in the London markets: “Dunbar reds” were a household name there. Aspects of potato growing, harvest and storage were intensely debated at the local agricultural societies, including the Haddington Agricultural Club.
The 1870s was a peak decade for potato growing in East Lothian. The highest acreage of crop was grown by the end of that decade before the start of the prolonged agricultural depression. Agricultural labour, including casual labour, was increasing in price and supplies were declining. There was increasing need to ensure that labour-saving devices were available to farmers.
The Haddington Agricultural Club had a discussion on the best method of lifting and storing the potato crop in early November 1872. This was published in the North British Agriculturist. It is worth quoting at length for the insights it brings into a number of key issues in the harvesting and storage of the crop.
“At the monthly meeting of the Haddington Agricultural Club, held on Friday last, the above subject was to have been discussed, but those who took part in the proceedings dwelt chiefly on the failure of the potato crop from the blight, which has almost wholly destroyed the crop. Mr James Douglas, farmer, Athelstaneford Mains, on taking the chair, said that in a great many instances it was a question if the crop was worth the lifting; henerally speaking, it was pretty certain it would do no more than cover the expense. From the statistical returns recently issued by the Board of Trade, it appears that the area under potatoes in great Britain in 1872 was 564,068 acres, being 10 per cent under that of the preceding year, 1871, which consisted of 627,690 acres, or 63,601 acres more than the present year. This differences can be accounted for when it is considered that the wet and backward character of the weather in spring prevented many farmers from planting the extent of land which they intended to be under potatoes. The area of land under potatoes in 1871 was over the average of previous years, being in excess of the preceding year-1870, by 40,030 acres. The practice for several years has been to increase the extent of land under potatoes in those districts where the crop was grown comparatively free of disease.
The chairman, Mr Douglas, gives no data whereby the loss to growers from the failure of the present crop can be calculated, but he gives information from which an approximation can be made. He said-“It is well known by practical men that to grow anything like a full crop of potatoes requires an outlay of £20 per acre.” This includes labour, manures, the value of the potatoes required to plant the ground, the rent of the land being also included, which in the Lothians may be taken to average upwards of £3 an acre. Mr Douglas stated that “on a great many farms in the county from 30 to 80 acres are grown annually, which must entail a loss on such farms on this crop alone of from £750 to £2000. This is estimating the crop at £25 per acre, being rather under the average price obtained by those growers who dispose of the crop by the acre when growing to potato merchants. A small portion of the potato crop in East Lothian was lifted before the disease became general, and on some dry soils near Dunbar nearly one half of the tubers were said to be sound last week when lifting was being proceeded with, but whether the tuners when pitted will keep good remains to be seen.
As to the question of lifting and storing the crop, Mr Douglas said-“It is generally very well understood by the growers in this country, judging from the experience they have had in the matter;” but he believes that, of the modes of lifting potatoes, “Hanson’s potato digger is the cheapest and best”. The principal objection to Hanson’s digger is its weight, as it almost always requires three stout horses, yoked abreast, to work it. There are, however, improved potato diggers on the same principle as Hanson’s, which are less oppressive to the horses. As regards storing, he considered pits about four feet in width as the safest and most convenient width. Mr George Hope, Fneton Barns, who followed Mr Douglas, said he approved of ploughs armed with prongs before and behind, which scattered the potatoes pretty well. This kind of pronged plough, he thought, lifted potatoes better than any other kind of implement. In regard to pitting, he thought they ought to be particularly careful in making the pits as narrow as possible; three feet, he thought, was about the best width.
The cultivation of the potato for the fattening of cattle was not referred to by either Mr Douglas or Mr Hope. We have occasionally advocated the cultivation of the coarser varieties of the potato for feeding cattle. Potatoes, when given along with turnips, will produce a larger weight of beef than the same extent of land occupied as a turnip crop-that is, one acres of potatoes given in connection with two or three acres of turnips will yield a larger return than three or four acres of turnips alone. Previous to the potato blight, it was not uncommon to cultivate the coarser varieties of potatoes for feeding purposes.
If in future potatoes are to be cultivated to the same extent in East Lothian and elsewhere as they have been during the last ten years, the returns derived from which have tended so materially to increase the farmers’ profits and indirectly enhance the leading value of all soils favourably situated for the cultivation of the potato, the more hardy varieties should be selected by cultivators. This present season has proved so disastrous to the extensive cultivators of this esculent that a majority of farmers will hesitate before they again devote so large an extent of land to this somewhat uncertain crop. The loss arising from the failure of the potato crops is not, however, the only untoward incident of this season The wheat crop is so inferior as to the yield-not generally exceeding one half the average acreable produce of grain0and the grain has been so much damaged by sprout as to reduce its market value by perhaps not less than from 20 to 30 per cent, and consequently to diminish the money return from the wheat crop.
In East Lothian and other districts where potatoes and wheat are the staple crops, and from the returns from which the rents have been chiefly calculated, upon, money from other sources than the produce of the farm will, in the majority of cases, require to be applied to the payment of rents for the year 1872.”
Further information on potato harvesting is available in Heather Holmes, “As good as a holiday”: potato harvesting in the Lothians, 1870 to the present, East Lothian: Tuckwell Press, 2000. (try Amazon for copies).
Alexander Newlands & Sons (ploughs, grubbers and harrows), Edinburgh Road, Linlithgow, West Lothian Eric Nicholson & Co. Ltd, Port Street, Annan, Dumfriesshire James Nicol, 18 Catherine Street, Aberdeen John Nicol (ploughs and reapers), Church Hill, Auchinleck, Ayrshire The Northern Agricultural Implement & Foundry Co. Ltd (turnip sowers & rollers), Rose Street, Inverness
We have a small list under “N” but we have some great names.
Eric Nicholson & Co. Ltd, Port Street, Annan, Dumfriesshire was only in operation for a small number of years, but made an important contribution to the making and sale of oil engines. The company was recorded as Eric Nicholson, Port Street, Annan, in 1905. In order to move forward in its business it became a company limited by guarantee in 1909. Its trades were as a cycle maker and agent, a mechanical engineer, a millwright and an oil engine manufacturer. In the few years that it operated it brought its manufactures to the Scottish farmers in both the North British Agriculturist and The Scottish Farmer. It also exhibited at the Highland Show at Stirling in 1909 and at Dumfries in 1910. By the early twentieth century the use of oil engines had grown significantly in Scotland. In 1909 one of the makers, Eric Nicholson of Annan, who manufactured the Annan Oil Engine, commented: “it is well known that oil engines are popular, and in constant demand everywhere-a demand which is becoming greater as the benefits derived from their use are becoming known to the public-and the uses which they are put to being added from time to time.” He also noted “oil engines, have, in many instances, replaced steam engines, and possess many features, such as efficiency, economy, simplicity, portability, and cleanliness, which render them of great value, particularly to farmers; and there is every reason to believe that they will, in the future, be used much more extensively on the land.”
Nicholson was aware that by comparison to other makers, there were a “limited number of makers of oil engines, compared with the number of manufacturers of other classes of machinery.” He took the opportunity to capitalise on this demand and formed Eric Nicholson Ltd, of Annan. It made the Annan engines, which were sold throughout Scotland by other implement and machine makers such as D. H. & F. Reid, Ayr, and Robert G. Garvie, Aberdeen. Both were noted oil engine makers.
After the company was voluntarily wound up, the goodwill of the oil engine and thrashing machine manufacturing business was acquired by D. H. & F. Reid, engineers, Ayr. The business had been removed to Ayr where the Annan oil engines and thrashing machines were being made at their works at Victoria Bridge, Ayr.
The Northern Agricultural Implement & Foundry Co. Ltd, (Thomas B. Pegler, manager), was located at 6 to 12 Rose Street, Inverness in 1894. It undertook a number of trades including agricultural implement maker, brassfounders, engineers, millwrights, smiths, bridge builders and bellhangers, ironfounder, and mechanical engineers.
In 1919 the North British Agriculturist included a short article on the company:
“Manufacturing in the north The Rose Street Foundry and Engineering Company (Ltd), Rose Street, Inverness, have been prominent for many years as manufacturers of agricultural implements as well as engineers and founders. They are now going to devote their energies in an increased degree to the farm implement side of their large and varied business. As the chief step in this direction, they have appointed Mr Malcolm Currie, so of the late Mr M. Currie, at one time manager to Lord Cawdor, to be manager of their agricultural engineering department. Mr Currie has a very wide experience, having been brought up to practical agriculture. Thereafter he served his apprenticeship under the late Mr Sinclair Scott of Greenock, to engineering, and subsequently he help important appointments with various firms engaged in marine and mechanical engineering. He is also a capable designer and draughtsman of several years’ standing, as well as having been for several sessions a lecturer in engineering design under the Royal Technical College, of which institution he was a distinguished student. He is also an associate member of the institute of naval architects. The foregoing qualifications, combined with business ability and energy, will be invaluable to a business such as that carried on by the Inverness firm.” If you were attending the Highland Show in Inverness in 1923 and 1932 you would have seen the company exhibiting its manufactures. In 1923 they included an improved land roller.
Many readers will know the name of Newlands. Alexander Newlands was born in 1834. He spent his early years working for George Sellar & Son, Huntly, “with whom he has had great experience” in general country work – “plough and other Agricultural Implement Making, and Horse-Shoeing”. In June 1860 he took over the stock in trade of William Crichton, blacksmith, Port Elphinstone. But he did not stay in Port Elphinstone for long. By 1864 he had moved to Inverurie where he had set up shop at 43 High Street.
1868 was an important year for Alexander Newlands: it was the first one that he exhibited at the Highland Show which was being held in Aberdeen. He exhibited a two horse plough with steel mould and a ridging or drill plough, both of which he made himself.
Alexander was an ambitious and successful plough maker. He recognised that while there was a trade for his implements in the north-east, he could expand his business elsewhere. On 11 September 1880 he sold, by public sale, the property at 43 High Street. He took the ambitious step of moving to Linlithgow, the county town of West Lothian, to expand his business. In 1884 his son, also named Alexander, joined him in business, which became Alexander Newlands & Son, Provost Road, Linlithgow. The name of St Magdalene Engineering Works, is not recorded until around 1913. From the 1880s onwards Alexander Newlands & Son specialised in the making of ploughs, grubbers and harrows. Later it ventured into horse rakes. In 1900 its manufactures included a two horse swing plough; medium drill plough with marker; baulking drill plough; combined drill and potato plough; one horse drill grubber; horse or drill hoe as a drill grubber; house or drill hoe as a ridging up plough; field grubber; diamond harrows; and drill scarifier.
The company was a progressive one. From 1884 when the young Alexander joined his father, it exhibited nearly every year at the Highland Show and advertised in the agricultural newspaper of the day, the North British Agriculturist. In later years advertising was also under taken in The Scottish Farmer.
Even after Alexander senior died in 1907 the company continued to be an innovative one. By 1914, it acted as an agent for McCormick and Bamford, and in 1919 was selling the Austin farm tractor. In the following year it became an incorporated company: Alexander Newlands & Sons Ltd. Two years later in 1922, it took the important step to participate in the famous exhibition of farm tractors and tractor implements arranged by the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. In that year it also won a silver medal for its self-lift brake harrow at the Highland Show at Dumfries. In 1934 it exhibited as a new implement a cultivator and ridging attachment for tractors.
It was its ploughs that Newlands continued to be closely associated. In the 1950s and 1960s they couldn’t be beaten in the ploughing matches in the Lothians. Newlands carried away the prizes. Even the followers of Ransomes turned to Newlands.
Newlands built new works ain Linlithgow in 1912. Work had started on the new works in August 1912. The Linlithgowshire gazette recorded that: “Messrs A. Newlands and Sons, engineers and agricultural implement makers, have now had a beginning made with the erection of their new works at St Magdalene’s. The site seems a desirable one, being in convenient proximity to the main line of the N.B. Railway, and also the public highway. The new premises will be more extensive than those formerly occupied by Messrs Newlands, and, as may be expected more up-to-date, to permit of business development in the respective departments. Already good progress has been made with the construction of the new buildings. As we have previously stated, the ground formerly occupied by Messrs Newlands is to be taken over by Nobel’s Explosive Co. Ltd, and will, in due course, be utilised as a pertinent of the Regent Factory. At present a retaining wall is being erected, and a large tank constructed within the ground for the storage of water for the works.”
By October that year the Linlithgowshire gazette provided a further update on the building works. It noted:
“The new works which are being erected at Linlithgow by Messrs Alexander Newlines and Son, the well-known agricultural implement makers and engineers, are now approaching completion. The works, which will occupy a considerable portion of ground, are situated in the vicinity of St Magdalane’s. Besides the implement and engineering departments there will be, we understand, a large garage in connection with the works. A new road has been formed by the proprietors leading from the works to the public highway, and it is anticipated that railway siding accommodation will also be provided. It may be expected more up-to-date, to permit of business development in the respective departments. Already good progress has been made with the construction of the new buildings. As we have previously stated, the ground formerly occupied by Messrs Newlands is to be taken over by Nobels’ Explosive Co. Ltd, and will, in due course, be utilised as a pertinent of the Regent Factory. At present a retaining wall is being erected, and a large tank constructed within the ground for the storage of water for the works.”
Alexander Newlands & Sons Limited continued in business until 9 September 1986 when the company was dissolved.
A & J. Main & Co. Ltd, Corn Exchange Buildings, Edinburgh The Marnon Co. Ltd, agricultural implement makers, 47 and 49 Powis Terrace, Aberdeen Charles J. Marshall, Chapel Works, Bucksburn, Aberdeenshire Edward Martin, Closeburn, Thornhill, Dumfriesshire William Martin, Carluke, Lanarkshire Alex Mather & Son, engineers, millwrights and ironfounders, Orwell Works, Dalry Road, Edinburgh Mather Dairy Utensils Co., 51 Newall Terrace, Dumfries, Dumfriesshire H. W. Mathers & Son, agricultural implement maker and motor agents, 18 Glasgow Road, Perth James Meiklejohn, joiner and builder, Causewayhead, Stirling, Stirlingshire Melville-Brodie Engineering Ltd, Sinclairtown Foundry, Kirkcaldy, Fife James K. Millar Ltd, Parkhouse Works, Falkirk, Stirlingshire John S. Millar & Son, water engineers, Annan, Dumfriesshire Robert Miller & Son (harrows), 64 Upper Craigs, Stirling Robert Miller (Denny) Ltd, Scottish Poultry Appliance Works, Bonnybridge, Stirlingshire John Monro, Eclipse Implement Works, Meldrum Road, Kirkcaldy, Fife Montrose Foundry Co. Ltd, registered office, Bridge Street, Montrose A & W. Morrison (ploughs, grubbers, harrows and turnip sowers), 9 Skene Street, Macduff, Banffshire William Morrison (ploughs, grubbers, harrows & turnip sowers), 9 Skene Street, Macduff, Banffshire R. G. Morton (Errol), Brandon House, Motherwell, Lanarkshire James Moyes (threshers & reapers), Balwearie Mill, Kirkcaldy, Fife William Murchland & Co., 9 and 11 Bank Street, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire David Murray, Balgersho Works, Coupar Angus, Perthshire G. W. Murray & Co., patentees of potato planters and manufacturers of crown threshers for hand and foot power and also for pony power, Banff, Banffshire.
Under M we have a number of major players in Scottish agricultural implement and machine making. Many readers will be aware of a good number of the makers.
G. W. Murray & Co. Banff Foundry, Banff was already in business by 1868. It undertook a range of trades as an agricultural implement maker, iron founder, engineer, mechanical engineer, iron merchant, pump manufacturer and smith. In 1868 the company sold a wide range of manufactures. These included corn drills, turnip sowing machines, two horse ploughs, drill ploughs, horse rakes, turnip hoeing machines, rick stands, iron troughs, zig zag harrows, grubbers, chain harrows, Norwegian harrows, land rollers, turnip cutters, corn bruisers and potato diggers.
The company was an innovative one: in 1895 one trades directory described the company as “G. W. Murray & Co., patentees of potato planters and manufacturers of crown threshers for hand and foot power and also for pony power, Banff.” A patent from 1870 was for “improvements in means of apparatus employed in ploughing or tilling land”. Another from 1871 was for “improvements in apparatus for ploughing or tilling land”. It also entered its implements and machines for the highly prestigious trials of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. They included the trials of potato planters in 1883, ploughs (1883), grubbers (1883), implements for autumn cultivation of stubble (1885), and implements for spring cultivation (1885).
The company undertook significant publicity work, allowing it to reach a Scotland wide as well as an international market for its manufacturers. It exhibited at the Highland Show from 1868 until 1896. It exhibited in all the Society’s eight show districts, giving it a reach throughout al of Scotland. It advertised in the North British Agriculturist from 1868 until 1897. The company was highly regarded for its manufactures, winning a number of national and international awards. From the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland it received a commendation for fencing in 1868, a silver medal for a collection of ploughs in 1870, a medium silver medal for a collection in 1872. a silver medal for a chain pump in 1873, a medium silver medal for a turnip sower in 1875, a medium silver medal for a turnip sower in 1876, a silver medal for a thrashing machine in 1876, a minor silver medal for collection in 1876, and a first and second prize for a turnip lifter in 1881.
The company was one for the few Scottish companies to have received an award from the Royal Agricultural Society of England – for a double furrow plough in 1870. In 1872 it was awarded a first prize of 10L for a double furrow plough not exceeding 3.5cwt a highly commended for a double mouldboard or ridging plough not exceeding 2.5cwt. In 1874 it was awarded second prize of 5L for drill without manure box, for turnips and other roots on the ridge. In 1880 it received a silver medal for a two row potato planter. The company continued in business until 1897. An auction sale was held on 18 August of “engineers’, iron founders’, and agricultural implement makers’ plant” “owing to the proprietor giving up business.
An Ayrshire implement maker for which there are few details is John Morton, Boghall Smithy, Galston. He is recorded at that address in the mid 1890s. By the fiirst decade of the twentieth century he may have moved premises, as there is a John Morton recorded at Strath Road, Newmilns. At Galston, Morton undertook business which extended to the south of Scotland. He exhibited at the Highland Show in Edinburgh in 1893, at the Dumfries show in 1895 and the Glasgow show in 1897. There he exhibited his rick lifter and a patent steel plough.
By the first decade of the twentieth century, trade directories record him as an agricultural implement maker, a millwright and a smith.
Another of the less-well-known implement makers that is recollected today is R. G. Morton, Errol. In its day, the company was a highly regarded engine maker, making among other items, horizontal engines, semi-portable engines, boilers, turbines and threshing mills.
By 1877 Robert G. Morton had set up his business at the railway station, Errol, Perthshire, from which he had the ease of transport to distribute his manufactures. By 1913 the company had changed form and R. G. Morton (Errol) was located at Motherwell, Lanarkshire.
The company actively promoted its manufactures in both the North British Agriculturist and the Scottish Farmers, especially from the mid 1880s onwards until 1913. It was a regular attender at the Highland Show from 1870. It considered itself as an innovative business, entering a number of its manufactures for trials of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. These included an exhaust fan in 1884 which won a £10 prize. In 1884 it entered the Society’s trial of machines adapted for cleaning all sorts of grain and other seeds from weeds. In 1888 one of its steam engines was selected for and entered for trial. In 1890 it entered the Society’s trial of grist mills. By trade, the company was an agricultural implement maker, a boilermaker, engineer and millwright, a machine maker, a mechanical engineer, and more lately a motor-van, lorry and builder.
On the death of Robert G. Morton in the spring of 1920, the North British Agriculturist, acknowledged his innovative business. It wrote:
“To farmers of twenty-five to forty years ago, few men were better known in the agricultural engineering business than Mr R. Aikman Gray Morton, whose death has taken place at his son’s residence, 2 Hamilton Drive, Bothwell. Mr R. G. Morton was the noted millwright and agricultural engineer of Errol, Perthshire, and in his time carried on an extensive business which had a wide and well-established reputation. Mr Morton first made his mark in 1868, having in that year invented the “Comb Drum” threshing machine, an implement which practically revolutionised the system of grain threshing then in force. One of his greatest improvements on the original Comb Drum machine was the introduction of the double drum, by which it was possible not only to thresh clean grain of every description, but also to preserve the most tender-fibres straw from being unduly broken up or damaged. In addition to threshing machines and farm engines (which at Errol had been brought to a wonderful degree of perfection), Mr Morton did a large trade in numerous other agricultural appliances, as well as in general machinery for manufacturing purposes, and these were sent to almost every manufacturing centre in the world. He was a man of high ideal and universally esteemed.” Morton is a fantastic example of how innovative engineering was carried on in rural Scotland and of its outstanding reputation.
Thomas Macavoy, Dairy Works, 27 Castle Street, Stranraer, Wigtownshire John McBain & Son, Chirnside, Berwickshire George McCartney & Co. (thrashing machines), Burnside Works, Cumnock, Ayrshire John McCulley (ploughs, harrows, grubbers &c), Beansburn, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire Macdonald Brothers (reapers &c), Roseacre Street, Portsoy, Banffshire John McDonald, 81 High Street, Aberlour, Banffshire Peter MacDonald, 81 High Street, Aberlour, Banffshire John McDougall, Irongates, St Mungo, Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire William McFarland (ploughs), Ardler, near Meigle, Perthshire Alexander McGeorge, Torthorwald, Dumfries John McGhie & Sons, Harthope Place, Academy Street, Moffat, Dumfriesshire James McGillivray (turnip cutters, harrows and ploughs), Newton Road, Spynie, Elgin William McIlwraith, Milngavie, Dunbartonshire John McInroy, Balgersho Engineering Works, Coupar Angus, Perthshire John Mackay, Tornagrain, Petty, Inverness Alexander Mackenzie & Son (ploughs, harrows &c), Achnagarron, Rosskeen, Invergordon, Ross-shire Kenneth MacKenzie, agricultural engineer, Evanton, Ross-shire John McKinnel, Closeburn, Thornhill, Dumfriesshire P. & W. MacLellan Ltd, engineers, wagon builders, bridge and boiler makers, iron, steel and copper merchants, smiths, machine tool makers, bolt, nut, rivet, and chain manufacturers, and general ironmongers, 129 Trongate; Clutha Works, Vermont Street, Plantation; registered office, 108 Cannon Street, London John Macnair, Longrow, Campbeltown, Argyll McNab, tinplate worker, manufacturer of all descriptions of tin dairy utensils, established over 120 years, 171 Gallowgate, Glasgow William McNaughton (hay presses, thrashing mills and engineers), Forth Street, Stirling Alexander MacTavish, 18 and 20 Castle Street, Inverness J. & T. McWilliam, Lochans, Stranraer, Wigtownshire
Under this letter we have some major names in the Scottish agricultural implement and machine makers. MacDonald Brothers of Portsoy had been making agricultural implements and machines from 1878; their early manufactures included harrows and turnip lifters.
By 1885 they had started to make back delivery reapers, a manufacture which they continued to make into the early twentieth century. They had a number of models. In 1890 one of them was the Princess, a one horse self-acting back delivery reaper. Another two from 1894 were the Portsoy self-acting back delivery reaper and the Simplex self-acting back delivery reaper. The brothers were among a number of reaper manufacturers in Scotland, others including the famous Kemp, Murray & Nicholson, Stirling, Alexander Jack & Son, Maybole, as well as Auchinachie & Simpson, Keith.
By 1889 Henry Stephens could note that “in all parts of the United Kingdom, and on almost all farms of any considerable size, the reaping machine has superseded the slower and older appliances for cutting down the corn crops.” It was to be only a few years later that binders would start to come into force, marking another revolution in the harvest field.
Kenneth McKenzie of Evanton, Ross-shire, later Kenneth McKenzie & Sons, Evanton, was a noted implement maker in Ross-shire, whose name went well-beyond the boundaries of that county.
Kenneth was already a smith and farrier in 1903. In 1922 he is recorded in trade directories as an agricultural engineer, a mechanical engineer, a motor engineer and a smith. By 1955 he is denoted as an agricultural engineer, implement, machinery and equipment manufacturer and as a tractor and implement dealer.
Kenneth’s business grew and expanded.
By 1945 he had premises at Evanton and also Conon Bridge. In 1955 he also had a branch at Inverness. He was joined by his sons in business by 1949, becoming “Kenneth McKenzie & Sons”. Sister company also emerged, including Kenneth McKenzie & Sons (Caithness) Ltd, which had premises at Burn Street, Wick, in 1952.
The company actively promoted its manufactures and its implements and machines for which it was an agent at the Highland Show from 1923 onwards until 1956. It focused its attention on the shows in the more northern parts of Scotland attending ones at Inverness, Perth, Edinburgh, Dundee, Paisley, Aberdeen, and Alloa.
The company manufactured its own implements and machines. They included potato dressers, root cutters, barrows, food coolers, and sack holders.
In 1949 the company made a variety of root cutters. They included: Root cutter, model no 1, with 1 1/2hp Lister engine Root cutter model no 1 with 2hp electric motor Root cutter model no 1A with 1 1/2hp Petter engine Root cutter model no 2 with 1 1/2 hp Petter engine Root cutter and cleaner, combined model no 3 with 1 1/2 hp Petter engine Root cutter model no 4 stationary Root cutter model no 417 stationary with 2hp electric motor Root cutter model no 4B semi-portable with 1 1/2 Wolseley engine Root cutter model no 5 stationary Root cutter model no 6 stationary with wall brackets Root cutter only for existing power. The company continued to operate until 1957.
George McCartney & Co., engineers, Cunnock was already established by 1850. In 1887 it was described as one of the “principal” exhibitors of implements at the Ayrshire Agricultural Association’s show. By 1894 it was located at Glaisnock Street in Old Cumnock, and in 1903 it gave its address as Burnside Works, Cumnock, where it remained in business until the 1930s.
In 1893 the company described itself as engineers, millwrights and ironmongers. It was also an agricultural implement maker, electrical accessory and appliance manufacturer, engineer, manufacturer and mechanical engineer. It was most well known for its thrashing machines and reaping machines. In 1870 the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland awarded its silver medal for its 3 or 4 horse power thrashing machine and in 1875 that society also awarded it a medium silver medal for one of its thrashing machines. It was its thrashing machines that it also heavily advertised in the Scottish agricultural press, in the North British Agriculturist from 1861, and the Scottish Farmer from 1893. In 1910 its threshing machines included a 3 feet 8 in bolster high speed threshing machine, with crank shakers, riddle and fanners (which sold at £77; with double blast £83), its “Eclipse” combined thresher and dresser, 20 inch wide, with horse gear (for £32); and a 16 inch thresher dresser, with revolving shakers and horse gear (for £27).
The company attended the Highland Show from 1850. However, after the 1852 show it did not attend again until 1870. Attendance was sporadic, with the company favouring the show in the south of Scotland and central Scotland show districts.
The company continued in business until 1933. However, its legacy lasted thereafter. On 14 October 1933 William Dickie & Sons, East Kilbride advertised “McCartney & Co., Cumnock, the old established firm has given up business. We have secured the patterns and drawings for their threshing mills, water wheels, gears, water bowls &c.”
If you bought a threshing mill from Dickie’s of East Kilbride, after 1933, the chance is that it would have been one that used the patterns from George McCartney & Co.