Implements and machines in Midlothian in 1795

The county agricultural surveys published by the Board of Agriculture between 1795 and 1817 provide detailed accounts of the agriculture, agricultural practices and implements and machines used in each county in Scotland. A number of the surveyors provide especially detailed accounts of the agricultural implements, their history, dissemination and use. george Robertson was one such surveyor. He wote the accounts of Midlothian and Kincardineshire. His account of Midlothian is especially worth quoting for its account of implements used in one of the leading agricultural districts at that time. It states: 

“Implements -Not may years since, these were few in number, and rudely constructed. They have undergone much alteration of late.
The plough formerly used was the Scotch, long and heavy, yet well adapted to the powerful draught of 4 or 6 horses, that were frequently applied. When it was perceived that 2 horses were sufficient for every purpose of tillage, this simple implement was constructed on a lesser scale, but the original proportions still retained. It has since been improved in principle, (made somewhat resembling to the Rotherham Plough) by the late Mr Small at Ford, in this county, who has, on the true mechanical principles, modified the mould-board into such a form of curvature, as to make less resistance to the earth as it is turned up, by which it requires less force to draw, than any other plough known in this county; while the furrow itself is gradually laid over to its proper position. 
The mouldboard, as well as the sheath, is now greatly made of cast-iron, on the inside of which is an inscription, bearing, Mr Small’s name, the name of the founders, (Cooper and barker) and, what is principally intended,-the approbation of the Dalkeith Farmer Society. it is now universal over Scotland, and perhaps were it better known in England, it might come to displace the complicated ploughs with wheels and other trumpery with which agriculture there is at present incumbered; as it is not apt to be put out of order, but simple in the construction, and effective in operation, it is adapted to almost every situation. The chain, connected with the muzzle, by which it is drawn, fixed as far back as the culture, is not essential to the formation, serving merely to strengthen the beam, which may be made stronger of itself at less expense, while the tillage is as accurately performed with ploughs that have none. The price is from 40s to 50s. 

The harrows, of which there are several kinds, is commonly made of four bulls, connected by four slots, generally four feet square, weighing about 48lbs avoirdupois, besides having 20 iron tunes or teeth, of about alb wt. each. Each harrow is always drawn by one horse; three of which are frequently yoked together under one driver. This implement may be improved in principle by altering the arrangement of the tunes. A pair of harrows cost about a guinea. 
Rollers are generally of free-stone, 5 1/2 feet long, 15 inches diameter, weighing, when mounted, about 12cwt drawn by two horses, and cost about two guineas. Every farmer has at least one, for something the grass-lands, to which it is peculiarly adapted; also for breaking the clods of rough land in tillage; in which it is not clear that it is so effective as the ancient clod mallet; for although, in some cases, there may be more work done for the same expense, in general there is less, and not so completely to the purpose, besides giving the whole land, without distinction, the same pressure, whether necessary or not.

Of drilling and hoeing instruments there are many; usually of a plain and effectual construction. The drill-barrow for sowing one row at a time, is a simple machine, adapted to different grains, and small seeds, in any required proportion. A machine of this kind, for sowing several drills at once, and at sich different degree of width as may be wanted, would be a great acquisition, provided it were not too complex. 
It may be proper here to take notice of the weed-hook for cutting thistles, &c among standing corns, which, although but a simple instrument, is perhaps the most perfect of any we have. Notwithstanding, that it is constantly rubbing against the ground, when it is used, yet being concave in the under side, the edges are preserved entire for several years. It costs (without the staff) only 2 1/2d and weighs about 2 oz. It is only made, so far as I know, in East Lothian, here it is to be had in the shops in Haddington. 
The reaping fork, for collecting into sheaves, corns that are cut with the scythe, will probably be adopted more generally, as the practice of mowing corn becomes more common. The prongs are in practice, pushed in below the swathe, raising accurately the straw from the stubble, while the prongs serve the double purpose of retaining the cut corns from scattering backwards; and of forming the size of the sheaf, which is regularly determined when the straw accumulates as high as the top of these prongs.
There can be no question, that with this implement corn can be collected faster and more regularly into sheaves, than merely by hand labour. 

Wheel carriages, employed in husbandry, are only the close-cart, and the corn-cart, both of a light construction; drawn by two horses, and of late by one. The large wains, or heavy four horse wagons, in English husbandry, are reprobated here. Two horses in a cart are commonly loaded with 18 or 20 cwt. One horse draws still more easily 12 cwt; even 24 cwt is frequently put to a single horse, and 30 wt on good road is not uncommon. This cart has lately been much improved: placed on its axle, the bottom at such side projects over the inner head of the naves, as far as nearly to touch the spoke of the wheels; from which acquired breadth, the capacity is enlarged, while the side standards being brought nearer to a perpendicular, are able to sustain more weight. The corn cart, which is only placed occasionally on wheels, for carrying hay, or corn in the straw, is composed of standards, rods, and spars, without deals, but is broader and much longer than the close-cart, that it may hold a more billy load. It costs from 20s to 30s.

Fanners, for cleaning corn, have been in general use here for more than fifty years. They run 12 bolls an hour, and in two operations, or in three at most, the corn is completely cleaned; four people are necessary to attend them, for sifting, riddling &c. Some fanners perform these operations also by which two persons less are required. They cost from 2l to 5l and last 20 or 30 years.
Threshing mills, lately invented, were very soon afterwards introduced into this county. They are now very general, and of various dimensions and construction, wrought by one, or two, or your horses, or by water, which last is the best method of all. One-horse mills a boll in the hour, the others, in that proportion or mor. They cost from 25l to 60l: some perhaps more, particularly when they are made to clean the corn at the same time, which requires more machinery, as well as more space.”

As you can see there were not too many different types of agricultural implements and machines at this time! What a change from today’s mechanised farms! 

The photographs were taken at the Strathnairn Rally, September 2014.


Implement makers retiral notices

The Scottish agricultural press and the provincial press include a number of adverts from implement makers who were retiring or had stopped business for various reasons. As with farms, a number of implement makers held roups or public sales to dispose of their tools and stock in trade. Others transferred their businesses to other willing parties to continue. 

These adverts can be a useful source of information on what happened to a business and as an aspect of business history. The following adverts all reveal aspects of the retrial of a number of implement makers from the mid 1850s onwards. 

“Clearing sale of agricultural implement maker’s stock
Alexander Young, agricultural implement maker at Monifieth, near Dundee, respectfully intimates to his friendsand the public that, having now disposed of his business, he will sell, by public group, in an early day, the whole extensive stock of implements and utensils of trade belonging to him. 
Particulars of the stock, and the day of sale, will be stated in a future advertisement.
Monifieth, 30th October, 1856″
From Dundee, Perth and Cupar advertiser, 14 November 1856 

“William Crichton, blacksmith, Port Elphinstone, in retiring from business, begs leave to return his sincere thanks to his numerous customers for the liberal support they have bestowed on him for the last sixteen years, and that he has now given over his stock-in-trade to Mr Alex Newlands, blacksmith, who he trusts will meet with the same patronage as bestowed on him.
In reference to the above, Alexander Newlands begs to intimate that, in addition to the trade as formerly carried on by his predecessor, Mr William Crichton, he intends carrying in general country work-via, plough and other agricultural implement making, and horse-shoeing, and having been a number of years in the employment of Messrs Sellar & Son, Huntly, with whom he has had great expertise in the above, he trusts, with good workmanship and moderate charges to merit a share of public patronage.
Port Elphinstone. May 30, 1860.”
From Aberdeen journal, 6 June 1860. 

“Important sale of property, founders’ and engineers’ plant and tools
Upset price reduced
The remains, subjects, belonging to Robert Mitchell & Son, Limited, will be exposed for sale, by public group, on Friday the 2nd day of November, at twelve o’clock noon, within the Royal Hotel, Peterhead.
The subjects consist of the yards and workshops, entering from Marischal Street and Tollbooth Wynd, in which the firm carried on the trades of iron founding, engineering, and agricultural implement making. Also, the plant and tools not previously disposed of, consisting of steam engine, cupola, foundry crane, moulding boxes, patterns, steam hammer, planing machine, vertical boring machine, lathes and other tools, per inventory. 
The whole subjects above described will be offered in one lot. Of not so disposed of, the proprerty, yards, workshops, and sheds will be offered in one lot without the tools.
In case there are no offerer for the property in one lot, it will be again exposed in two lots as under-
Lot no. 2A, comprising the yards, foundry, blacksmith’s and engineering shops; and
Lot no 2B, comprising yard, sawmill, and agricultural implement shop. 
Plan of the property, inventory of tools, together with title deeds and articles of sale, may be seen in the hands of Patrick Irvine, solicitor, Peterhead.
The Manager, John Fraser, will supply any information, and show the workshops and tools to intending purchasers.
Peterhead, 12th October 1883.
From Banffshire Journal, 30 October 1883

To engineers, implement makers, iron founders, and iron merchants
In consequence of the death of Mr G. W. Murray, there will be sold, as going concerns, the premises, plant, stock-in-trade, and good-will of the business carried on by Messrs G. W. Murray, engineers, implement makers, and iron founders, Banff Foundry, and Messrs Murray & Blake, iron merchants, Banff. The premises are situated in a good position, and are well adapted for the business of the respective firms. The machinery and plant of G. W. Murray & Co. are specially constructed for the business, and are in good working order. The stock-in-trade of both firms is well-selected, and mostly in good order.
The agricultural implements manufactured by G. W. Murray & Co., are well-known, not only in this country, but in most parts of the world. Excellent connections have been formed, and a large business has been done for many years. Recently a considerable business has been done as to fishing gear, and the fishing industry is very largely prosecuted in the district. A large business is also done in other departments of this firm. Messrs Murray & Blake have for many years done a large business throughout the whole North of Scotland, and are well established.
The premises, plant, and stock may be inspected at any time. 
Further information and conditions of sale may be obtained from Mr Geo. A. Duncan, manager of the works, or Messrs Allan & Soutar, solicitors, Banff, either of whom will receive offers or both businesses, together or separately, as candidates may prefer, up to 23rd September next.
Banff, 20th August 1887.”
Banffshire journal and general advertiser, 6 September 1887 

“Old established agricultural implement manufacturing business for sale
owing to the death of Mr William Anderson, sole partner of the firm of Benjamin Reid & Company, agricultural implement makers, Bon Accord Works, Aberdeen, it has even resolved to offer the works and business of the firm for sale. 
Particulars may be had from Messrs Davidson & Garden, advocates, 245 Union Street, Aberdeen. Agents for the executors, and offers will be received by them up to 30th April.
The highest or any offer may bot be accepted.”
From From Aberdeen press and journal, 7 April 1896. 

“Agricultural implement makers’ business for sale
There will be exposed for sale by public roup, within The Institute, Keith, on Wednesday, the 18th August 1909, at twelve o’clock noon, the business carried on by Messrs Auchinachie & Simpson, agricultural implement makers, Keith, together with the whole stock in trade, machinery, plant and goodwill, also the premises in which the business has been carried on. 
The business has been established for over 60 years, and is now being realised in consequence of the death of Mr John Simpson. It is the only kind in the district, and the present affords an excellent opportunity for anyone desirous of acquiring such a business. 
For particulars apply to Mesrs Mayer & Fraser, Commercial Bank Buildings, Keith; or to the subscribers, in whose hands are the articles of group, and inventory of stock &c.
Kemp & Auchinachie, solicitors, Keith.”
From The Scotsman, 4 August 1909 

Lots of interesting titbits of information!


Implements for tillage in East Lothian in 1805

What implements were used for cultivating crops in East Lothian in 1805? George Somerville, surgeon in Haddington, gives a short account of implements to plough, sow, cultivate and manage crops grown in the county. Only a relatively small number are recorded:

“Till within the last 30 years, the Scotch plough, generally speaking, was the only one in use; it was of large dimensions, and required the strength of four horses to do ordinary work: in not a few instances two more were added. That implement was succeeded by one, constructed something like the Rotherham plough, which was afterwards amended, by the late Mr James Small of Ford.
This plough is provided with a mould board of cast metal, constructed in such a manner as to make less resistance than any other hitherto tried, and is universally drawn by two horses. The price is from 2l 10s to 3l fully mounted.
The harrows commonly used are of two kinds, viz the large brake, worked by two horses, and the common small harrow, worked by one. The brake is so constructed with joints, as to bend, and accommodate its shape to the curvature of the ridges; it is chiefly employed upon strong lands, especially fallows, and upon soft lands, where the furrow is much bound with couch grass, or other root weeds: the small harrows are afterwards used with advantage, and at once complete the pulverisation of the soil, and separate such of the root weeds as have escaped the brake. When the land is clean, and the soil sufficiently reduced, the brake is very seldom used for covering the seed, the common harrow being could fully adequate to that purpose. This implement appears susceptible of considerable improvement; the number of teeth may certainly be increased with advantage, and the direction of the draught so much altered as to give them greater effect, by making more ruts.
Roller. Rolling is practised in the county to a certain extent, both in rediucing the soil before sowing, and upon the young crops, both of corn and grass. When conducted with judgement, the practice is highly useful, and admits of being considerably extended, especially upon all winter crops, after severe winters, and that without any regard to soil, as both loans and clays, after much naked frost, have their cohesion so much broken, as to leave the plants quite loose and almost without any establisment. Rollers are chiefly of stone or wood, and in a few instances of iron. Where wooden rollers are used, they often have a box upon the top for holding stones, for increasing their weight, when it is found necessary. Both wood and stone rollers have a fault, which, when they are used upon growing crops, is considerably felt; in turning short, the motion round the axis is nearly lost, and the implement, by that means, in place of rolling round in the manner it does when drawn straight forward, comes round, in the same manner as if ithad no axis, and in that way both the plants and soil are drawn along with it. This defect is completely remedied, by having the roller in two pieces to move round a common axis; most of the cast iron ones are of rugs construction: In turning, one end of the roller is drawn forward, while the other is ruled backward and the soil and plants left uninjured.
Drilling machines are used chiefly in the sowing of turnips, beans, and pease, and reemployed for this purpose with great advantage. Till within these few years, these machines owed only a single drill at a time, now however, they are so constructed, as to sow three or four at once. For turnips, these large ones answer extremely well, and save much labour; they also answer well for pease and beans, where the land has been previously ridged up, a practice noe becomes very common, especially where the soil is dry and free from couch-grass or other root weeds; but in cases, where beans are ploughed in, which is by far the most common mode, the single machine or common drill barrow, worked by a woman or a boy, is the best, and indeed the only one, rat can be used. The turnip machine has a coulter and roller appended to it, which at once cover the seed, and give a due degree of firmness to the soil. Hitherto the drilling of white crops, in this county, has for its object, chiefly the saving of seed, as the drills are often so close as to admit of little culture. Within these few years, however, the drilling of white corn crops has increased considerably, on the light lands around Dunbar, and it has been found, that by making the intervals such as could admit the use of the Dutch-hoe, great facility has been afforded, for destroying annual weeds.
Implements used during the growth of the crops
The implements used during the growth of the crop, are the horse and hand-hoe, the small and double mould board plough, the Dutch-hoe, and the different kinds of weed hooks.
The horse-hoe or scuffle is so well known as to need no description; that implement is now so constructed, as to be easily accommodated to any width of a drill; it is used more or less in all drill crops.
Hand hoe. The hand-hoe is very generally used, as will be seen, when the different kinds of drill crops come to be noticed, it is differently formed, but every variety of it is so well known as to require no description.
Small plough. The small plough is the same as that used for ordinary tillage, but upon a reduced scale, and is used in giving the first, second, and third ploughings, to turnips, beans, potatoes &c.
Double mould board plough. That implement differs in nothing from the foregoing, except in having temporary mould-board of wood added to the left side, and a double-pointed share or sock; it is employed only in laying up the earth equally to both sides of the drill, after the other ploughings are given, and is considered the finishing operation, unless where hand-weeding and picking may afterwards be thought necessary, for taking out such weeds as grow in the drills amongst the crop, and which cannot be destroyed in any other way. This implement is not much used.
Dutch-hoe. The Dutch horse-hoe, provincially called scraper, is used very generally in cleaning beans or tunnies, and a hand-hoe of the same name is often used in gardens; there cannot be a doubt, that, if the drilling of white crops were more general, the implement would be found very useful.
Weed-hooks. the common weed hook is chiefly used in this county, and is a useful instrument for cutting weeds of a certain description, such as thistles, &c; but, as the former of these, when cut either at an early period of the season, or before much rain falls, are apt to spring up a fresh and produce four or five stems in place of one, they ought, perhaps, in every instance, to be pulled, or, if they are cut, the operation should be done with a chisel, which, if properly used, will cut them below the surface.
This implement, being placed near the root, and pushed downwards at the same time, will cut the plant, at least a couple of inches below the surface, and by going nearer the root, will, if it does not destroy it entirely, at least injure it more than when it is cut an inch or two above the ground.”

The selection of sowing nd cultivating implements were taken at Lanark Auction Market, March 2019.


A Dumfries name: Thomas Turnbull

One of the names long associated with Dumfries was Thomas Turnbull of Castlebank Mills, later the Pleasance Implement Works. He is recorded as being in business from at least the 1880s until at least the mid 1930s. 

Thomas Turnbull undertook a number of trades, as an implement maker, an engineer, and iron founder, a millwright and lately as a millwright and mechanical engineer. 

Thomas’s business made a number of implements and machines as well as selling those from other makers. By the 1920s the company was well-known fro its broadcast sowing machines. It was agent for a number of businesses. In the 1880s they included Harrison, McGregor & Leigh, Lancashire, Alexander Jack & Sons, Maybole, W. N. Nicholson & Son, Newark on Trent, A. Pollock, Mauchline. In 1910 they also included Henry Bamford & Sons, Uttoxeter, Richmond & Chandler, Manchester and James Gordon, Castle Douglas. 

The company largely had its business activities in the south of Scotland. It largely attended the Highland Show in the Dumfries and Edinburgh show districts between 1870 and 1910. It also advertised in the Scottish agricultural press, in the North British Agriculturalist between these years. 

You might still see some implements and machines made or sold by Thomas Turnbull around, especially in southern and south-west Scotland. 

The photrogaphs were taken at the displenishing sale of the Corrieshill Collection, Lanark, March 2019.


Buying a grain and grass seed drill the Sherriff way

If you were a farmer or agriculturist looking to buy a new grain and grass seed drill you could chose one from a number of makers.
From 1816 the most renowned maker was Thomas Sherriff & Co., West Barns, East Lothian. Thomas made a number of sowing machines for crops, including drill crops, as well as associated implements and machinery for them including manure distributors and horse hoes.

Thomas first exhibited at a the Highland Show in 1852. He exhibited a drill sowing machine with land measures attached which he had invented and made. At the first of these shows he exhibited one or a small number of implements. However, Thomas died in 1857. His business was taken over by his enterprising widow, who transformed it into perhaps the most decorated agricultural implement maker in Scotland, winning numerous awards from the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland.

By 1871 the firm of Mrs Thomas Sherriff was making and exhibiting a large assortment of implements. At the 1871 show she exhibited the following ones: 
ten row lever corn drill, with back steerage, made by exhibitor
twelve row lever corn drill with back steerage, made by exhibitor
fourteen row lever corn drill with back steerage, made by exhibitor
twenty row lever corn drill, made by exhibitor (a radical improvement) 
horse hoe for drilled green crops, made by exhibitor (a radical improvement)
broadcast sowing machine for grain and grass seeds, made by exhibitor
broadcast sowing machine for grain and grass seeds, on two wheels, made bye exhibitor (a radical improvement)
broadcast sowing machine, for grain and grass seeds, on 3 travelling wheels, made by exhibitor, a new improvement
three row bean sowing machine, mad by exhibitor
two row turnip and mangold sowing machine, made by exhibitor
three row carrot sowing machine, made by exhibitor 
three row manure distributor, made by exhibitor, radical improvement
turnip cutter, for sheep, attachable to a cart, made by exhibitor.

Mrs Sherriff retired from business on 19 July 1871. In an advert in the North British Agriculturist, she intimated that she had transferred her business to her present manager, Robert Robertson, whom she had authorised to carry on the business. He succeeded to the goodwill, stock in trade and tools of the business, carrying it on in the same premises under the name of themas Sherriff & Co. He continued the business, developing it further, until the mid 1900s when he died.

Further developments in seed sowers we made in following years. In 1924 the company entered a combined corn and seed drill and grass seed sower for the new Implement Award of the Highland Society. It was described as: “The machine is designed to sow 14 rows at 6 in apart; fitted with special steel coulters, which spread the grain 2 in to 2 1/2 in wide in the rows; without this adjustment, when sowing thick-skinneed oats, about 6 bushels per acre, allows the grain to spread out, and gives room for each grain rooted to spread, and gives a more equal sample of grain and straw. A new special tempered steel brush is fitted to each seed delivering pinion, which clears the seed-plate hole of barley awns or other dust, and prevents choking, and blanks in the seed rows. The grass and clover seeds are sown from a separate hopper, which is fitted with our patent steel brush distributor, and sows 28 rows at 3 in apart. The coulters are light steel, and put the seeds in a uniform depth of 1 in; can be varied. With this arrangement, owing to the seeds being all put in an equal depth, prevents the seeds being thrown out during severe weather in the winter months, and shows a saving of from 25 to 50 per cent in seeds. One lever controls the whole machine, lifts the coulters, and puts the sowing mechanism out of action. Does not require to be harrowed after sowing, owing to the light grass-seed coulters acting as a harrow.”

In 1927 the company entered a new combined hoer and cultivator for the new Implement Award of the Highland Society. At the time the company described it in great detail. It noted that it was “for sowing sugar beet, turnips, and other seeds, and hoeing and working same on the flat (or ridge if desired); will also work off land for planting cabbage or other plants, and hoe and work same. The machine is made to do four drills at a time; widths, 18 in, 20 in, 22 in or 24 in apart (standard), but can be made for other widths if wanted. The seed distribution is by our patent tempered steel brush, and will sow any quantity required. A special coulter bar and coulter delivers the seeds, and the coulters are fitted with a special v-shaped wheel following in the track of the coulter, but working independently of same, which presses in the seeds and gives an equal braid. Coulters are also depth regulated to fit various soils. A set of markers are also provided. One man and a pair of light horses required when sowing only. When sowing is finished the seed-box and coulters are removed, and an entirely new principle is adopted for hoeing. A special steel floating frame is fitted below main frame of machine. This frame carries the special channel steel section for the housing of hoes, and with two grooved pulleys in a horizontal position working on a steel pipe in front of machine. This frame is well braced and rigid. On top of main frame of machine an angle-steel frame carrying a seat and operating spindle and hand-wheel is bolted in position. To this spindle is attached a steel flexible wire rope, and operating on the floating frame running on the grooved pulleys. The hoes are fixed to the channel steel, in which notches are cut, into which the stalks of hoes are housed, and held rigid in position by eye-bolts. The stalks are round steel, and can be set to any angle required, and when screwed tight impossible to shift position. When hoeing, a lad sits on frame in front driving the horses, and a man on the seat behind operates the floating frame carrying hoes by the hand-wheel, and can move all the hoes in a parallel line with the plants, and with a root lever can lift the hoes out of the ground, instantly. The operator has a clear view of the plants to be hoed, and can bring the hoes close up to plants without risk of cutting them out. The machine being mounted on three wheels makes it steady on the land 8 or 10 acres per day can be wrought, and easy work for a pair of light horses.”

The company continued to be well recognised for its seed sowers,and the name Sherriff is still to the fore today for the sale of agricultural machinery. Have a look out for Sherriff seed drills around the vintage rallies – there are still a few around today!


A major name in the Lothians of old: William H. Kirkwood, Lothian Bridge, Dalkeith

One of the names that keeps on cropping up over and over again in the farming papers of nineteenth century Scotland is William Kirkwood, agricultural implement maker, Lothian Bridge, Dalkeith, Midlothian.

William first appears in the North British agriculturist in 1856 as an implement maker at Duddingston. He moved from there in late 1865 when he adverts record William Kirkwood, implement maker, Lothian Bridge (late Duddingston). He undertook a number of trades: as agricultural implement maker, smith and as smith and implement maker.

William was a regular exhibitor at the Highland Show. Although he exhibited in the main show districts including Dumfries, Kelso, Stirling, he most regularly exhibit at Edinburgh. He exhibited at that last location in 1859, 1869, 1877, 1893, 1899, and 1907. At the Show he was an award-winning maker, winning numerous prizes. They included:
1857 – award of 2 sovereigns for best sheep fodder rack
1858 – award of 2 sovereigns for best hand stubble or hay rake
1858 – award of 5 sovereigns for best feeding troughs for sheep
1859 – award of L2 for best hand stubble or hay rake
1859 – award of L1 for best feeding troughs for sheep
RHS 1859 – award of L1 for best wheelbarrow of malleable iron
1860 – award of 1 sovereign for best feeding troughs for sheep
1860 – award of 1 sovereign for best wheelbarrow of malleable iron
1860 – commended, hand stubble or hay rake
1861 – award of 3 sovereigns for best machine for pulverising guano etc
1861 – award of 1 sovereign for best feeding troughs for sheep
1861 – award of 2 sovereigns for best sheep fodder rack
1873 – award of medium silver medal for Norwegian harrow

William died in March 1911. His obituary appeared in the Edinburgh evening news on 1 April 1911. It provides some further information about his business and the man at its helm:

“Mr William H. Kirkwood, agricultural implement maker, Lothian Bridge, died suddenly yesterday, after a few days’ illness, at the age of 63 years. Deceased, who was a native of Edinburgh, began his engineering career in the Singer Sewing Machine Works, in the West of Scotland, and on the death of his father, he acquired the engineering business at Lothian Bridge. Mr Kirkwood was particularly successful in the manufacture of ploughs, and gained various awards from the Highland and Agricultural Society, and other societies, for improvements both ploughs and harrows. He took a lively interest in the affairs of the Newtongrange district, was for several years a member of the Parish Council, and was senior elder and session clerk
for Newbattle Parish Church.

Have you seen any implements and machines made by William H. Kirkwood?


A new implement making establishment in Aberdeen: Robert G. Garvie’s Hardgate Works

There are relatively few accounts of the premises belonging to the Scottish agricultural implement makers. They tend to be recorded when an important maker is opening a major works, or through destruction by fire. 

One of the most important makers in Aberdeen and the north-east was Robert Garvie of Harrogate Works, Aberdeen. He opened a new premises in December 1894. A number of accounts for it exist in newspapers. The most detailed account was published in the Aberdeen press and journal on 1 December 1894. It provides a lot of information not only about the works but the arrangement of the different departments from one another. The details also suggest the scope of activity that was going on at the works. It is worth quoting at length.

“The spacious new works in Hardgate, the property of Mr Robert G. Garvie, agricultural implement manufacturer, have now been completed, and all the departments are in operation, between 80 and 90 men employed. The fact that it has been found necessary to provide an establishment on so large a scale would seem to point to the growing importance of the manufacture of agricultural implements as an industry in the north-east of Scotland. Fully an acre and a half of ground has been taken off in a very convenient site on the south part of Hardgate, and the buildings that have been erected are admirably adapted for their purpose. The frontage to the street is constructed of granite, and has a substantial though plain appearance. The offices &c, are situated here, while the various departments of the manufactory stretch back to the west. The principal entrance is from Hardgate, at the north-east end of the feu.

There is a wide covered-in gateway, and the passage leads along the northern boundary to a large yard on the extreme west. At the entrance a six-ton steelyard is laid down, the register being taken in a comfortably-appointed forwarding office. A stair leads from this apartment to the suite of offices on the floor above, but before describing these, it is to be noted that, adjoining the forwarding office, and running for 70 feet parallel with the street are a number of stores, from which doors open into the sections of the works occupied by the various classes of employees. From this section access is also found to a large store-room for binders, reapers, and traction engines. The faces are very convenient and well lighted, the windows facing Hardgate. They are four in number. One is occupied by draughtsmen, another by clerks, another is a private room for the use of Mr Garvie, and the remaining room will also be utilised in connection with the commercial department. These rooms are about 21 feet by 15 feet by 10 feet, and are lined with varnished pitchmen. Drawings of various implements relieve the walls; office furniture of a substantial make is provided; an arrangement of speaking tubes is in use; and the gas fittings throughout are of the most modern description. The lobby which connects the rooms is pierced with windows in such a way as to allow an unobstructed view of the whole of the interior of the works. At the south end the carrier opens into the pattern shop, which measures 40 feet by 27 feet by 10 feet and above there is a lumber loft of considerable dimensions. This exhausts the accommodation on the east side. Passing down a stair from the pattern department the visitor finds himself in the section occupied by the staff of joiners. This section is one of three, all of which lie east and west, and each of which measures 140 feet by 45 feet-the ridge springing some 30 feet from the level of the ground, and the eaves 15 feet. The structure is of corrugated iron and glass, and the couples are made of malleable iron, painted in a light blue colour, the framework has a pleasing appearance, and the effect is equally attractive when the place is illuminated by the large number of sun gaslights which have been erected. The joiners’ department is different from the other two in respect that it has a wooden flooring, and in it the machinery is driven from below. This last arrangement is a feature. Roof shafting, when in constant use, causes a vibration which, in course of time, proves very damaging to a building, and to obviate this an ingenious arrangement has been introduced by which the walls and roof are left untouched, the motive power being conveyed from a sunk floor.

The middle section is where the fitters are employed. An extensive plant has been laid down for the manufacture of specialities in agricultural implements, and to facilitate the work there is a five-ton travelling came, which can be brought into requisition in any part of the shop. It is at the east end of this section that the engine room is situated. The room is neatly built of wood and glass, the engine itself being of about 20 horse power, and constructed on the compound principle. Below the engine room there is a concrete cistern of 24 feet by 12 feet for collecting the rain water from the roof, and this water, augmented when occasion demands from the Corporation mains, supplies the boiler and the cooling tanks. A stone wall separates the fitting department from that used by the smiths, where there are no fewer than nine furnaces. Specially worthy of notice among the machinery in use here is a self-acting five cwt steam hammer. A portion of the accommodation is partitioned off, and utilised for the storage of iron. The foreman of the works has had fitted up for his use an office, from which all parts of the establishment are equally accessible. To minimise the risk of fire as much as possible, a site for the boiler-house has been found at a considerable distance from any of the other buildings. The boiler is 12 feet by 6; works at 100lbs pressure; and is provided with an apparatus for economising fuel. Pipes covered with asbestos and waterproof carry the steam to the engine room, and the smoke passes off the furnace by a stalk about 100 feet in height The other outdoor premises comprise two sheds, one 90 feet by 30 feet, for seasoning wood, and the other 60 feet by 20 feet, for the storage of wood that has been prepared. In the yard there is also a three-ton crane. What strikes the visitor as he walks through the extensive premises is the completeness with which every detail has been carried out. Nothing has been left undone that is likely to facilitate the work undertaken, and the hope may be expressed that before long it will be found necessary to occupy the remaining portion of the feu with extended buildings.”

Next time you see a Garvie mill – or any of Garvie’s implements and machines – know that they were manufactured in a purpose-built works in Aberdeen. 

The photographs of work at the Garvie mill were taken at the Deeside rally, August 2018.


A famous plough maker from Aberdeenshire (who came to the Lothians) – Alexander Newlands

North-east Scotland, and especially Aberdeenshire, is famous for its plough makers. Well, there’s George Sellar, Huntly, Thomas Pirie, Kinmundy and Robert Mitchell, Peterhead. And there is also Alexander Newlands of Inverurie. You will probably know the latter as Newlands of Linlithgow.

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. 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.

Alexander Newlands & Sons Limited continued in business until 9 September 1986 when the company was dissolved.
Next time someone asks you to list the famous plough makers of Aberdeenshire, remember to include Alexander Newlands. He had a reputation that went far beyond the boundaries of the county of his birth.

The photograph of the Newlands name plate on a three furrow Newlands plough were taken at Farming Yesteryear, September 2014.


Implements in Roxburghshire in 1798

The Board of Agriculture and Internal Improvement’s county agricultural surveys provide a great deal of information about the agriculture and political circumstances of the different counties of Scotland. The 1798 survey of Roxburgh provides a detailed account of the implements and machines in Roxburghshire. It notes:

“The Scotch plough, with a long stout beam, and a long narrow point, through still used in stiff clay land, especially when it is to be broken up from grass, and even in light soil, when the furrow is interrupted by stones, has in general given place to the Rotherham plough, improve by Small. The former is thought be some to expose a larger surface to the atmosphere, by which the soil, when harrowed, admits of a finer pulverisation; but the latter is allowed to make a neater furrow, as well as to loosen and turn up more earth from the bottom. it is commonly made exactly according to Mr Small’s model, with this difference, that the beam is two, and sometimes even four inches long. Th moulds (or mould-boards as they are termed) of cast metal, recommended by the dalkeith Society of Farmers, aare much used; and the head or peak, instead of being covered with plates of iron, is not infrequently made wholly of it, or of cast metal. The shath too or sheath, including the head or peak, is sometimes one entire cast piece of cast metal. Opinions differ with respect to the structure of the muzzle. All ploughs have a rod of iron, doubled so as to embrace the beam either perpendicularly or horizontally, with four or five holes in that part of it which crosse the point of the beam, in one or other of which the harness is fixed. This bridge, as it is here called, moves upon a strong pin piercing the beam, about four or five inches from its point in some ploughs, and in others about fifteen or sixteen inches. In the former case, the bridle is placed horizontally, and has a long tail, by means of which, the depth of the furrow can be regulated. In the latter case, piece of wood, with four or five holes in it, is fixed to the end of the beam, sometimes in a horizontal direction, to regulate the width, and sometimes in a perpendicular direction, to regulate the depth of the furrow, by means of the bridle, which is always placed the opposite way from the piece of wood. This structure is preferred, as making the draught more steady. And some use a chain, partly to strengthen the beam, and partly to assist the movement of the plough, in very stiff soil, by the shake which which it occasions.

The plough is drawn by a strong stretcher, commonly called a two horse tree, with an iron staple in the middle, and a hook in it to go into one of the holes in the bridle, and with two iron ends, in each of which there is a hole to receive a smaller hook coming fro the middle of two lesser stretchers, or single horse trees, to whose extremities the ropes were formerly tied, and now the chains are fastened, which reach from both sides of the collars of two horses placed abrest.

The common harrows are chiefly used, but are made in a neat and substantial manner. the thick bars are not weakened by large round holes, to admit stout rods, but are pierced by narrow oblong slits, into which thinner bars are nicely and firmly mortised. To prevent one from jutting love another, they are joined together, sometimes by a strong stick, each end of which moves up a pivot, and sometimes by a ring sliding on two iron rods fixed on the approximating bars of each harrow; but the most common contrivance is, two or three pieces of wood, placed erect or obliquely in the extremity of the foremost or left-hand harrow, and also of the middle one when three are drawn together. The improved harrows by Mr Low at Woodend, a plate whereof he has given in his “General View of the Agriculture of Berwickshire”, have made their way into the lower part of this county, and have received still further improvement from Mr Dawson at frogden. He draws them by the ends instead of the middle of the stretcher: he places the two hinges exactly on the same line of draught; and he strengthens the principal bars, by the addition of a few diagonal ones. Two chains, fixed both to the harrows and the stretcher, meet at two and a half feet from the harrows, and are fastened to the two horse tree already described. The harrows are in the form of a rhomb, deviating from the square as far as necessary to make the teeth or tines cut the ground at equal distances from each other. Harrows, when square, or of an improper rhomb, may nevertheless be made to go over a large surface, and to cut it at more equal distances, by lengthening one chain, and shortening the other, till the line of draught is brought to the degree of obliquity required. 

Few or no wagons are now to be found in the county. Nor are two horse carts so numerous as they were some years ago. there can be little doubt that they would be every where superseded by single horse ones, did not the frequent and steep pulls, in the public roads, along with heavy carriages pass, and in several parts of many farms, require two horses. The dimensions of both vary so much in length, breadth,a nd depth, as not to be easily reducible to an average standard. The single horse carts, in general, are about 16 cubic feet, and hold about 16 Winchester bushels or marl or lime in shells, or 10 cwt of coals. The two horse carts are about 25 or 26 cubic feet,a nd for every such fot hold hold a Winchester bushel of mark, or of lime in shells, or 16cwt of coals. Both kinds carry more on particular occasions, but are then heaped, or perhaps are of larger dimensions. The bodies always strengthened by iron stays, tightened by screws. The height of the wheels is from 4 feet 2 inches to 4 feet 6 inches. Iron axles are much used; and they are commonly cased in wood, to render their concussion less hurtful to the horses. there are many timber ones; and they would be still more general, were it not for the danger and inconvenience of their failing in long journies with heavy carriages. Some are of timber, with iron ends having long tails, bolts, and screws. There is a common cart at Riddel, with an additional wheel before to ease the horse’s back. Frames are often put above the common carts for carrying hay, corn or straw, adding about five or five and a half feet to their length, and about three or perhaps three and a half feet to their breadth. But long-bodied carts still continue to be made for these purposes, generally, but not always, with a kind of wings projecting quite over the wheels, supported in the middle by a board set across the top of that cart, and at each end by stout rods resting on cross bars, which, with that view, jut out from the bottom of the body; such a cart is commonly about ten feet long, by seven feet in breadth. It carries a larger load than a frame; and can be more safely conducted through fields that are sidelong and uneven. But it is more bulky and incommodious in the shed, and cannot be laid up or brought forth so quickly, and with so little trouble. 

Both Cook’s and Perkin’s patent machines, for sowing different grains in rows, have been tried in this county. They are so constructed, as to make the rows at any distance from 9 to 36 inches. Saw a field of barley, which had been sown with the one, and a field of wheat, which had been sown with the other, in drills nine inches asunder. Both were upon a declining surface, and both looked well. Though apparently thinner than what were sown broadcast on part of the same fields, yet the ears were longer, and the grains in them were larger. There are other machines for sowing turnips, on ridges previously formed by laying together two furrows with a common plough. These are of different forms, mostly drawn by horses, though some are drawn, and others pushed forward by men. All of them have a small coulter to make a slight furrow, or rather rut, on the summit of the ridge, into which the seed drops through a narrow pipe or funnel, immediately behind the coulter. A very light roller precedes the coulter, to smooth the summit of the ridge, and is so long as to go over the one last sown, and cover or gently press down the seed. Some of them have a little barrel, moving on to axis, with holes through which the seed falls, and others have a kind of canister, from which it is shaken, into the funnel or upper end of the pipe. They generally go upon two slender wheels, from two to three feet asunder, according to the distance at which farmers choose to make their ridges. But, where the top of the ridge is tolerably is tolerably smooth, may prefer one wooden wheel, about two and a half or three feet in diameter, and three inches broad in the rim, to go along the very summit before the coulter, and another wheel, less and lighter, to follow it. In this machine the barrel is always used, and turned round, by a pinion, or else by a band connected with the foremost wheel. A very small and light plough, with moulds on each side to shift at pleasure, is drawn by one horse between the rows of potatoes or turnips after they advance a certain length, to suppress weeds, and to stir and lay up fresh earth, from time to time, around the plants. 

A portable instrument, for hoeing drilled crops, was made, by the direction of an ingenious young farmer in this county, from a description which he read of it in a publication by an agricultural society at Bath. When it is carried to or from the field, the beam folds back between the handles. When used, one man draws it by the beam, and another directs it by the handles. Instead of a coulter and share, it has only a hoe, which cuts the weeds immediately below the surface; and a larger or smaller hoe can be put in it, according to the width of the drills. In fields free from stones and well dressed, it is very effectual and expeditious.

Brake harrows, with huge teeth, some of them very heavy, are used on ground, that is newly broken up, or full of clods, or overrun with inveterate weeds. Rollers, also, both of wood and stone, around every where, and are of very different sizes and weights. It is difficult to manage a strong clay soil without the aid of both these instruments. Mallets, too, are necessary to make a fine mould for barley, especially when clover is sown among it. There is little occasion now for brake harrows on the light soil, as it is, in general, brought into excellent order; but, even on that soil, it is found to be of much advantage to roll barley, wheat, and sometimes oats, immediately after they are sown; and wheat, oats,a nd clover, when in the blade, in spring. The lot designed for potatoes and turnips is likewise frequently rolled. 
The common scythes are employed in mowing hay, but corns are cut with the sickle. Both are put upon the cart and stack, with a common two pronged fork. A fork, with three or more stout and long prongs, and a handle three feet long, fills dung into the cart, and spreads it on the field. Lime and mark are spread with a shovel. Both the English and Dutch hoes are used in cleaning potatoes, turnips, and other drilled crops. Stones are loosened, broken, and removed from the earth by picks, large hammers, and levers both of wood and iron. Even gunpowder is sometimes made an implement of husbandry. Docks are taken up with a spade contrived for the purpose. Other weds, especially thistles, are cut with a weed hook. Hedges are pruned and dressed by bills and shears. There are one or two machines for chopping straw, and mashing corn. A spade is preferred to the knife for cutting hay. 

Milk vessels are sometimes scooped out of a piece of solid wood, and nicely turned and smoothed; but more commonly are made of oaken staves; Earthen cans are also used. Churns are of various forms; each mistress or dairy maid preferring that kind, which, she thinks, requires least labour, and is mostly easily cleaned. Cheese presses are constructed on the principles both of the lever and the screw; the last seems to prevail most, especially in pasture farms, where cheese is chiefly made. 
In the end of the year 1795, there were only ten thrashing machines in the county. They are now multiplying so fast, that about 20 more were erected during the course of the year 1796, and there will probably be 36 or 40 at work before this account can come from the press. Those first made, either were driven by water, or required four horses, and cost about L80. Though they did great execution, thrashing about 25 and even 30 bolls in a day, yet their weight and clumsiness have induced farmers to try lighter ones, pulled by two horses, which are found to switch from 15 to 20 bolls very completely in 10 hours, and cost only about L40. When fans are attached to either, there is an additional charge of L5 more. Those lately made have all rakes fro removing the straw. It is alleged that, by their circular motion and severe draught, horses are stupefied, become less eager of food, and more unfit for their usual work. It is also alleged that, in rainy seasons when the corn is little spoiled and the straw moist, they perform the work very imperfectly. 

This county can boast, not indeed of inventing fans, but of being the first in Scotland where they were made and used. It is pretty generally agreed, that one Rogers, a farmer on the estate of Cavers near Hawick, about the year 1733, or at least before the 1737, either saw a model or a description of one had been brought from Holland, and that from it, having a mechanical turn, he first made and afterwards improved those, which gradually came to be used in all the neighbouring counties, and which have since received further improvement from his descendants, who fell about 60 of them every year at L3 or 3 guineas each. They are remarkably simple in their construction, and answer the purpose extremely well; but corn mist be put always twice, and often thrice through them, before it is fully cleaned. An improvement upon them has been attempted by one Moodie at Lilliesleaf, which is much extolled by several farmers. He has introduced and happily combined some properties of other fans, by which the moving powers can be more easily regulated, increased, or diminished, and the grain, at one operation, can be both separated from the chaff and lighter seeds, and completely riddled from loose straws, and all other course refuse. The expense d double, the machinery is more complex, and one operation is not always sufficient; but the ingenuity of the structure deserves praise, and may furnish useful hints to such as are employed in attaching fans to thrashing machines.”

Haven’t the implements and machines used in south-east and the Borders changed since then! 

The photographs were taken at the Borders Vintage Rally, May 2014.


Implements in the North in 1862

The Scottish agricultural and provincial press sometimes includes discussions of the state of agricultural implement making in specific districts of Scotland. These accounts are sometimes critical of what was being made – or not being made. They can provide details of the main makers and their manufactures.

One account that was published in the Scottish farmer in 1862 was reprinted in the Aberdeen press and journal, in September that year. It provides an account of implement making in the north-east, using the exhibition at the Royal Northern Show as a showcase to view the industry. It reads: 

“The exhibition of agricultural implements at the late meeting of the Royal Northern Society at Aberdeen presents an opportunity for offering few remarks on the implements and machines used in the northern part of Scotland-of which Aberdeenshire may in most respects be held to be the representative county-as compared with those used in the South, and especially for calling attention to such of them as appear to possess any superiority in form or construction.
It stated that the exhibition of implements at Aberdeen on the 31st July, limited as it was, may be reckoned the largest that has appeared at any local northern show. The northern societies and clubs have confined their attention almost exclusively to the exhibition and improvement of cattle and horses, more especially the former; and the success that has attended their persevering efforts in that direction us now well-known and appreciated.
With respect to implements, they seem to have been content to obtain two or three of the principal articles used on the farm sufficiently well, and certainly substantially, made by the local wrights and blacksmiths; and those tradesmen deserve great credit for the excellent specimens which they turn out of the two main articles required by their customers-namely, the cart and the two-horse swing plough. No better samples of the one-horse Scotch part, or “box cart” as it is called, need be desired than those made by Messrs Mitchell & Son of Peterhead, and by Mr Simpson of the same place; and both of these firms had samples of their workmanship on the ground at Aberdeen. At the same time, it may in justice be allowed that not a few other local tradesmen supply their customers with articles scarcely, if at all, inferior to those made in Peterhead. These carts are provided with very light hay-tops or frames, as they are locally called, for use in harvest or at other times when required. In a district of country in which stones, great and small, have frequently to be carts, “stone carts” are not seldom in requisition; and these are provided by strongly-made shallow boxes which, where required, fit upon the same wheels, and to the same “shafts”, as the common or box carts. The swing plough (always now made of iron) is in universal use. A good deal of uniformity prevails as to its construction, the chief differences being in the form of the mould-board. In the case of some makers, there seems to be tendency to approach, more or less closely, to the form of mould-board adopted by Howard and other English manufacturers. Messrs Sellar & Son, of Huntly, have obtained a wide reputation for ploughs, the result not only of their superior skill, but of their enterprise in forwarding their implements to the Highland Society’s shows, and to the International Exhibition in London. There are very far, however, from monopolising the making of ploughs in they own county; for ploughs of excellent construction and workmanship, and which in the various localities, in which they are made are deemed equal to any that can be obtained, were exhibited from Tarves, Monymusk, Keith, Aberdeen, and Broughty Ferry, and varying in prices from £3 15s to £4 15s. Most if not all the articles exhibited in the class seemed excellent specimens of the two-horse swing plough. 
Another article which seems to be manufactured of very excellent and substantial quality in Aberdeenshire is the broadcast sowing-machine for grain or grass seeds. The machines for these purposes exhibited by Messrs Simpson & Son, of Peterhead, and by Messrs Mitchell & Son, of the same place, the one at £14 10s, and the other at £13 15s, seem to leave little to be desired; and we know that for many years they have been found to work remarkably well in practice.

The drill sowing-machine has to found very much acceptance in Aberdeenshire. The three articles of this class exhibited did not appear to possess any superiority over the well-known East Lothian, or those made by Garret & Son, and several other English implement makers. 
We found no mention made in the Society’s catalogue of drill-grubbers, or drill horse-hoes-certainly a remarkable omission in a part of the country so distinguished for the cultivation of turnips. Nevertheless, there were some five or six implements on the ground, which appeared to be intended to effect the important operation of drill hoeing by horse power. A suitable and efficient implement for this purpose is, or ought to be, one of the most important articles on the farm; and it is matter of surprise that so little attention seems to have been given to it-that nothing like an established or fixed form go drill-grubber or horse-hoe seems to be recognised in any part of the country. To this Aberdeenshire is certainly no exception; for some of the articles exhibited were very far indeed from being well-fitted to perform the operation in question; and in passing through the county at this season of the year, all sorts and forms of implements-some of them very primitive indeed-may be seen at work as drip-grubbers in the turnip fields. 
A drill grubber should have its tines and cutters so formed as to keep sufficient hold of the ground in clay or heavy soil, and should at the same time be so provided with wheels as prevent it from sinking too deeply in light land. Its guiding or front wheel should be so fixed as to keep steadily forward in a straight line. (A wheel fixed in the manner adopted in Wilkie’s drill-grubber, figured on page 64, vol Ii, of Stephen’s “Book of the Farm”, 2nd ed, seems to be the best). Its tines and cutters should be of such form and placed at such an angle with the horizontal bars as not to carry weeds, but bring them to the surface, shake, and throw them off. Its cutters should have their edges of such form and position as not to slip harmlessly past thistles and other tenaciously rooted weeds; and it should be of such strength,a nd have tines (two of the cutters to be replaced by tines as occasion requires) of such form, as to stir up and loosen the soil between the drills in the same way, though not of course to the same depth, as is done by Tennant’s grubber on the flat surface. It should, in fine, combine the operations of the hoe, grubber, and harrow, so far as these can be combined in one implement. 
All these requisite points or qualifications we found combined in a higher degree than we have been elsewhere in an implement exhibited at Aberdeen by Mr George Mackie, Dudwick, Aberdeenshire; and we believe we are doing the farmers of that turnip-growing county, as well as those in other districts, a service in calling their attention to it. We have excellent authority, moreover, for saying, that its operation in practice has been found highly efficient.

The farmers of the north only just seen beginning to find out the value of the horse rake for hay and stubble. Some of the well-known English-made horse-rakes were exhibited by Messrs B. Reid & Co., Aberdeen; and the local implement makers of Peterhead and Keith are prepared, it seems, to supply similar articles. Neither are the very excellent hand-rakes, mounted on two light wheels, and having spring steel teeth (each tooth acting independently), as made by Smith & Ashby, of Stamford, and others, sufficiently known in the north. Some good articles of the kind were, however, exhibited; one, very light, and, so far as we could judge, likely to be found efficient, by Mr J. Anderson, of Monifieth, Broughty Ferry. 
The well-known turnip cutters of Samuelson, of Banbury; the excellent grain-bruisers of Turner of Ipswich; the straw-cutters of Samuelson, and of Richmond & Chandler, and a considerable number of other English-made implements and machines, all known to be the best of their kinds, were exhibited by Messrs B. Reid & Co., of Aberdeen. These gentlemen have, it seems, formed a sort of depot of English and Scotch made agricultural implements and machines-an undertaking which, it may be hoped, will turn to their advantage; for it is eminently calculated to be of service to the farmers of the district. 

The Scotch thrashing mill was very early adopted, and has long been in almost universal use in Aberdeenshire. In very many cases the physical transformation of the county is such as to provide the farmers with wind-power for driving the threshing mill. Where that is not available, horse power is still in general use for thrashing. It is rather remarkable that men of som much energy and intelligence as the Aberdeenshire farmers should not have more readily seen the propriety of substituting the steam-engine for horse power. Cannot some of those firms in Aberdeen or Peterhead which turn out such excellent carts and ploughs, and afford also metal gearing for horse powers and threshing-mills, supply the agriculturists of the district with compact and well-made steam engines at moderate cost? We could have wished to see a neat fixed horizontal steam-engine of four or six-horse power (such as is, or had won’t to be, shown at the English Society’s meetings by Clayton & Shuttleworth, and Hornsby & Son) at work-provided steam could have been supplied from a portable boiler or otherwise-on the Links at Aberdeen. Such an addition to the Royal Northern Society’s Show would have tended to draw the attention of the farmers of the district to what is perhaps the only department in which they are behind.”


Celebrating the Scottish agricultural implement and machine makers of yesteryear