All posts by @Heathersimplementmakers

Implements among the flower beds

There are some really gorgeous displays of flowers around villages and towns at present. And some of them have agricultural implements and machines at the centre of them. This says a lot about how some communities regard their agricultural histories and the link between implements and farming. It is also a great reminder of our farming heritage and the implements and machines that were used to help grow our crops.

The implement and machines include ploughs, hoes (especially the Hunter hoe), cultivators and tattie diggers. It is amazing how many tattle diggers you will see as ornaments in flower beds in gardens. The Highlands, and especially the Western Isles, used to be great locations to see a display of old implements and machines. I recollect a particularly good collection on the outskirts of Fort William a number of years ago.

Where have you seen collections of implements and machines in flower beds? 

The photos of the Hunter how, the Wallace potato digger and the Allan scythe were taken at West Wemyss, Fife, last week.


A Berwickshire name: John Rutherford & Sons

If you were a farmer in Berwickshire you would have probably be aware of the name of John Rutherford or John Rutherford & Sons of Coldstream, Berwickshire.

The company, as John Rutherford, Markst Street, Coldstream, was already in business in 1922. John’s sons joined him by 1926. The company was to become a limited company by guarantee by 1 January 1944. By 1926 it had branches in Coldstream, Earlston and Dalkeith. There was another depot at Kelso opened by 1929.

The business undertook a number of activities, In 1926 it described itself as “agricultural and electrical engineers”. In 1929 this was extended to “agricultural engineers, millwrights, implement agents, and electrical engineers”. There were further changes by 1934 when it described itself as “agricultural engineers, millwrights, implement agents, electrical and motor engineers”. The company continued to develop. In an advert in the Scottish farmer in 1952 it described itself as “one of the largest agricultural engineering firms in Scotland”. It noted how it had been an authorised Fordson dealer since 1930. While it described itself in these terms, its attendance at the Highland Show suggested that its area of customer focus was the south an especially south east Scotland (it was however, a regular advertiser in the Scottish farmer from 1926). It exhibited at the shows in 1926 (Kelso), 1929 (Alloa), 1931 (Edinburgh), 1936 (Melrose), 1952 (Kelso), and on a regular basis at Ingliston after 1961.

It was an innovative company. It entered implements for the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland’s new implement award at the Highland Show. In 1926 it entered Rutherford’s self-propelled cutter outfit. In 1929 a portable hand power turnip cutter outfit as well as new power potato riddle.

As noted, it had been a Fordson dealer from 1930. By 1945 it was a David Brown and Albion dealer. In 1955 it was an agent for a number of tractors including Bristol, David Brown, Fordson, Marshall and Fowler. From 1960 it was an International-Harvester dealer.

Next time you see the Rutherford name badge you will know the tractor or implement came from a well-known and innovative company in Berwickshire.

The photographs were taken at the Ayr vintage machinery rally, July 2019.


William Dickie & Sons Ltd, Victoria Implement Works, East Kilbride and the Dickie hay turner

Haymaking equipment like the Dickie hay turner made an important contribution to shaping the appearance of the hay field and the ease with which hay could be made. Before Tummlin Tam’s appeared from America in the 1840s hay was entirely made by hand, with scythes, hayforks and rakes being the tools of the hay field.

The Dickie hay turner became a household name in hay turners in Scotland. It couldn’t be beaten. It ended up with the Massey-Harris name on it. A big achievement for a Scottish implement and machine maker!

The company of William Dickie, agricultural engineer, East Kilbride, Lanarkshire, was already making agricultural implements and machines in the mid 1880s. By 1900 it had named its implement works “Victoria Implement Works”.

The company made a range of local implements and machines. By 1905 it entered one of its hay turners for the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland’s trial of swathe turners. In 1938 it launched its new patent expanding swathe turner which it both invented and manufactured. This was followed by the Dickie ‘swath-tedder’ in 1958.

In 1906 its hay-making implements and machines included “Dickie’s new patent rick lifter with all the latest improvements (heavy make or light make), “Dickie’s” all steel hay tedder, the “Victoria” reaper and mower, a hay collector with steel teeth, self-acting light steel hay rake, a self-acting horse rake, and a manual horse rake. Quite a range!

The company ceased trading in 1969 and was dissolved in August 1973. It left a significant legacy in the hayfields, and of course around the vintage agricultural rallies today.


What implements and machines were available for the Scottish farmer in 1928?

If you were a farmer in Scotland in 1928 are were looking to see what was around and what new implements and machines were around you would probably have gone for a good look at the Highland Show. Show reports are a great source of evidence to show what was notewothy and what caught the eye of the reporter. The writer for the Scotsman wrote about the show in terms of wonder. This is what he wrote:

“Visitors will find a great deal to interest them in the extensive section of implements, which is described as the “Motion Yard”, and an hour or two’s inspection of the exhibits will prove to be time well spent. The display in its variety will perhaps amaze the unitiated, while those associated with the tillage of the soil, and the reaping of crops are sure to find some new feature of special attraction to them. Well advanced as is the manufacture of implements in familiar appliances are always being produced by ingenuous minds, profiting by experience, and practically every show of the National Society has something to offer of benefit to the farming society. Practically all the regular exhibitors are again represented, despite the handicap of distance, and the display on the numerous stands is imposing as it is assorted.

“Everything for the Farm”
The usual wide range of agricultural implements is presented at Stand no. 12 by Mr James H. Steele, Harrison Road, Edinburgh, and a survey of the numerous exhibits leaves one with the conviction that the firm’s motto, “Everything for the Farm”, is fully justified. “Apply within upon everything that the farmer requires” is another phrase which might aptly meet the scope of business carried on by Mr Steele. Amongst the reaping machinery, an outstanding exhibit is the Ruston Hornsby now Standard binder, which gained the silver medal at the Royal Show in England last year. There are also a number of petrol-paraffin engines made by the same firm, as well as several varieties of the well-known Ransomes ploughs for all purposes, including the new patent Mole draining plough, an implement which has been meeting a long-felt want on both sides of the Border. As demonstrating the merits of the new Tayproof waterproofing composition, an engine is to be seen pumping water on to one of these covers, while another demonstration of special interest to the housewife is that of the Daisy washing machine. Roto salt bricks for cattle and horses are to be found on the stand, together with all the best makes of corn bins, sack elevating barrows, pig feeders, cattle troughs, rick loaders &c. This year Mr Steele is making a special feature of dairy appliances, in the display of which are included automatic water bowls of single and double patterns for cattle, cream separators, churns, milk cans, bottle boxes, milk bottles, and, in fact, everything required for milk from the time it leaves the cow until it reaches the consumer. Milk dealers should be interested in the new bottle-filling and discing machine which is being demonstrated daily at the stand. The poultry side of farming is likewise fully catered for, and here special attention is directed to the new Imo egg preserver, an invention which does away with all chemical preservatives and ensures a supply of fresh eggs all the year round. A 300 egg size machine will demonstrate the capabilities of the invention, which is being seen at the Highland Show for the first time.

The Sentinel Waggon Works (Ltd), Shrewsbury, have on view at Stand no 4 one of the latest types of these extremely useful ad popular vehicles. A rigid six wheeler, fitted with a platform measuring 20 feet by 7 feet, it is capable of carrying up to 15 tons. Specially suitable for the cartage of flour, oil cake, and all general agricultural products, this vehicle has a mileage of 17 per cwt of fuel. Sentinel waggons, which are to be seen on the streets and roads in every part of the country, are gaining favour every year among haulage contractors and others concerned with transport in business. Present-day users swear by the Sentinel as being one of the most economic waggons available, while their reliability is another strong point.

Messrs P. & R. Fleming & Co., Argyle Street and Graham Square, Glasgow, make their usual attractive display of implements at Stand no. 22. Outstanding in the collection in the collection are the popular Waugh patent sheep dippers, fitted with a new circular pen, the combination making a very simple and effective means of dipping. Attention is directed to the Fleming potato sprayer, which is seen with a new direct driven gun-metal pump. Other popular exhibits include drinking bowls, horse forks, liquid manure pumps, potato planters, food coolers, binders, mowers, oil engines, grinding mills; in fact, a complete arrangement of implements and machinery for the farm.

Reliable oil engines
Two of their well-known engines are shown at Stand no. 51 by Messrs Alex Shanks & Son (Ltd), Dens Iron Works, Arbroath. A prominent position is occupied by their 42-48 bhp cold starting hortizontal oil engine, which is suitable for using crude and residual oils, and is capable of a full load within a minute of starting. A smaller powered engine, with hot bulb starter, is also on view. The firm are also to be found at Stand no. 122, where they present for inspection an interesting collection of lawn mowers, in the manufacture of which Messrs Shanks have long been famous. There is a triple mower for horse draught – a particularly useful machine for golf courses. Several types of motor mowers are also on view, as well as specimens of the noted Caledonia, Talisman, Britisher, and other well-known lawn mowers.

Road-making machines
Messrs McCreath, Taylor & Co. (Ltd), 30 Jamaica Street, Glasgow, make a display of heavy plant for road-making purposes at Stand no. 37. Here are to be seen bitumen boilers and sprayers of different capabilities, a tar-macadum mixer, a petrol-driven concrete mixer, standard derrick, and a petrol-driven motor roller. Other exhibits include spraying machines and gritters, a Broadbent model stone-breaker, along with specimens of concrete fencing and ornamental work, rubber blocks for paving purposes, bitumen, &c.

Reliable threshers
A wide assortment of machinery and implements is staged at Stand no. 13, occupied by Messrs Barclay, Ross & Hutchison (Ltd), 67-71 Green, Aberdeen. For many years the firm have been famous for their threshing machines, which are held in high esteem for efficiency and reliability. Various types of these threshers are on view, ranging in price from about £50 to £222. Several well-known makes of engines are also presented for inspection, together with manure distributors, binders and mowers, horse rakes, potato diggers, cultivators, cream separators, and other dairy appliances, poultry accessories, garden seats, &c.

Motor spirit and oils
The Anglo-American Oil Co. (Ltd), 41 ½ Union Street, Aberdeen, occupy Stand no. 15, where they have on view some of their renowned motor spirits, oils &c. These include Pratt’s Perfection and Aviation spirits, Pratt’s gasoline benzol mixture, also White Rose and Royal Daylight lamp oils, oil cookers and heaters, vaporizing oil for power engines and tractors. Pump equipment for bulk storage of petrol and oils can also be seen here, together with samples of the Angloco candles &c.

Apart from these particular stands, many other firms whose names are familiar to agriculturists are to be found in the showyard, all displaying their special lines of products. The [presence of many heavy traction engines and road rollers is a striking feature of the motion yard, and as usual, practically all of them have been brought from the Midlands of England. Among the exhibitors of such machines are Aveling & Porter (Ltd), Rochester, who show two types of road rollers and a concrete mixer; Messrs John Fowler & Co. (Ltd), Steam Plough Works, Leeds, who have forward one of their complete road-making plant; Messrs Marshall, Sons & Co. (Ltd), Gainsborough. Another impression which a round of the stand leaves is the progress that has been made in the application of oil engines in farmstead duties as indicated by the large assortment presented for inspection. Engines can now be had for practically every task around the steading, and they are to be seen in varying capacities at the stands of the Associated Manufacturers’ Co. (Ltd), London; Messrs William Reid & Leys, 8 Hadden Street, Aberdeen; Ruston & Hornsby (Ltd), Lincoln; Crossley Bros (Ltd), Openshaw, Manchester; Petters (Ltd), Yeovil, Somerset; C. F. Wilson & Co. (Ltd), Constitution Street, Aberdeen; Blackstone & Co. (Ltd), Stamford, Lincolnshire; Allan Bros, Ashgrove Engineering Works, Aberdeen, &c. There is the customary comprehensive exhibition of threshing machinery in motion, prominent in this section being such well-known firms as Messrs Ransomes, Sims, & Jefferies (Ltd), Ipswich; James Crichton, Perth; James Robertson, 14 Hadden Street, Aberdeen; the Bon Accord Engineering Co. (Ltd), Aberdeen; R. G. Garvie & Sons, Aberdeen; Marshall, Sons, & Co. (Ltd), Gainsborough, and Garvie, Innes, & Scott, Aberdeen.

The long-established firm of Messrs John Wallace & Sons (Ltd), Dennistoun, Glasgow, have many of their renowned implements on view, while extensive displays of a similar nature are also made by Messrs E. H. Bentall & Co. (Ltd), Maldon, Essex; Harrison, McGregor & Co. (Ltd), Leigh, Lancs’ Massey Harris (Ltd), London; Bainford (Ltd), Uttoxeter, Staffs; J. & F. Howard (Ltd), Bedford; William Dickie & Sons, East Kilbride; John McBain & Son, Chirnside; Alexander Jack & Sons (Ltd), Maybole; George Henderson, Forth Street, Edinburgh; J. & R. Wallace, Castle Douglas; the International Harvester Co. (Ltd), London, &c.

Dairy requisites
Utensils for the dairy form an important department of the section. The Alfa-Laval Co. (Ltd), London, show their noted milking machine together with a new model of the Alfa-Baby machine which embodies all the features and advantages of the senior installation. There are also a variety of cream separators. The latter utensil is likewise exhibited in varying capabilities by the Wolseley Sheep Shearing Machine Co. (Ltd), Birmingham. On the stand of Messrs Barford & Perkins (Ltd), Peterborough (no. 38), is to be seen a complete model dairy as well as the “Cleena-Milk” sterilizing outfits, pasteurisers, &c. Cream separators, refrigerators, petrol engines are shown by Messrs R. A. Lister & Co. (Ltd), Dursley, while the new Wallace milking machines is shown by Messrs J. & R. Wallace, The Foundry, Castle Douglas.”

Quite a selection of names and implements and machines!


Managers and directors in P. & R. Fleming, Glasgow, a noted firm of implement and machine makers

Obituaries are an important source of information for revealing details about the Scottish agricultural implement and machine makers and the character of their businesses.

One of the important firms in Glasgow was P. & R. Fleming. It was already in existence in 1844 as P. & R. Fleming, iron merchants and ironmongers, 29 Argyll Street and 18 Stockwell Street, Glasgow. By 1894 it had considerably expanded its business, also undertaking wider range of trades. It denoted itself as; P. & R. Fleming & Co., ironmongers, iron merchants, smiths, gasfitters, bellhangers, wire fence and gate manufacturers and agricultural implement makers, warehouses 29 Argyle Street, Glasgow; iron warehouse, 18 and 24 Stockwell Street, Glasgow; 16 Graham Square, Glasgow; branch establishment 1 Dowanhill Place, Partick; works, Kelvin Street, Partick. Its trades and manufactures included: agricultural implement maker, agricultural implement maker and agent, construction and steel iron merchant, galvaniser, also iron house and roof constructor, hay baling press manufacturer, iron bridge builder, iron fence and hurdle manufacturer, machine maker and millwright, railway plant merchant, scale beam maker, and wire worker and wire cloth manufacturer.

A number of its managers and directors appeared in obituaries. two are noted below. They give an idea of their work, stature and work in shaping this extensive implement making business.

One of the key partners in P. & R. Fleming was Colonel Howie who died in April 1927. His life was described in two obituaries which each reveal different aspects of him and his activities:

“Mr Robert Howie JP, better known as Colonel Howie, from his long connection as Lieu-Colonel of the famous 3rd LRV of other days, a partner in the firm of P. & R. Fleming & Co., Trongate, Glasgow, died in a private nursing home in Glasgow on 16th inst. Colonel Howie belonged to a famous agricultural family in the West of Scotland. We have heard it said that his father was the only male member of the family of his own generation, who was not actually a farmer. As a youth Mr Howie, senior entered the employment of the firm of P. & R. Fleming, and rose to be a partner in the firm. When he died he was the senior partner, and was succeeded by his son, Colonel Robert Howie, whose passing is now announced. The firm was originally engaged in the ironmongery trade pure and simple, but under Mr Howie, senior, and his partner, that late Mr James Macgregor, the agricultural implement and machinery side of the business was more and more developed. This policy was continued after Mr Macgregor became senior partner, and Colonel Howie was the junior, and the policy has up to the present been steadily pursued. Colonel Howie was an enthusiastic Volunteer and apart from his business, that may be said to have been his recreation. He was in many respects typical of his race-quiet and not disposed to court the limelight, but a master of his own business, and giving it close unremitting attention. Among Glasgow merchants he was regarded as one in whom were exemplified the best traditions of Scottish manufacturing and commercial dealing: his word was his bond, and the firm with which he had a lifelong association in all its dealings reflected the code of its chiefs. Colonel Howie was highly respected in the city, and will be greatly missed by all who knew him.”
(Scottish Farmer, 23 April 1927)

“The death has occurred in a Glasgow nursing home of Colonel Robert Howie, who was associated for many years with Messrs P. & R. Fleming, ironmongers and structural engineers, Glasgow. Colonel Howie took a keen interest in the Volunteer movement, and during the ear served on the Military Service Appeal Tribunal. He took a prominent part in the activities of the Trades House, and a special interest in the incorporation of Hammermen, for which he acted as collector, and later as deacon. Colonel Howie was chairman of the Glasgow Conservative Club in 1908, and was President of the West of Scotland Angling Association.”
(The Scotsman, 19 April 1927)

In March 1950 we read of another of the managers in the Milngavie and Bearsden Herald:

“The death has occurred at Annan of Mr John Waugh, who for many years occupied Chapelton Farm, Bearsden, and who was well known in the West of Scotland agricultural implement trade. Over a considerable period Mr Waugh was implement manager for Messrs P. and R. Fleming, Glasgow.”

The photographs were taken at the Scottish National Tractor Show, September 2015.


Tummlin’ Tams or American hay rakes

Scottish agricultural implements and machines from America have played an important role on Scottish farms since at least the early nineteenth century. They include reaping machines, tractors, chilled ploughs, among the wide range of implements and machines. On the hayfield was the American hay sweep, or the Tummlin’ Tam whose role was to gather hay across the swathes. It allowed hay to be more easily moved around the hayfield in the course of its various turnings, cocking and re-cockings.

The Tummlin’ Tam was introduced into Scotland by Archibald Ronaldson of Saughland in 1828. At first, it was much used in south-east Scotland before spreading to other parts of the country, and Britain. It continued to be used into the twentieth century. In 1925 for example, the Scottish agricultural press included adverts from a number of makers. These included Alexr Jack & Sons Ltd, Maybole who advertised it as “Jack’s hay collectors”: “Ash wood handles of correct shape ensuring complete turnover of collector. Timber all Home Grown, thoroughly seasoned and selected.” William Dickie & Sons, East Kilbride, also made a collector as well as other hay harvesters including a rick lifter). George Henderson, Forth Street, Edinburgh, also made one which the company described as “the strongest and best”. It was called the “Empire” hay collector.

Another American hay rake, the hay collect or sweep rake, was introduced into Scotland in the latter nineteenth century. By 1889 the Acme Harvesting Co., Pioria, Ill, was making a sweep-rake. It was about 15 feet in width with wheels at the side and had long prongs for collecting the hay. It was introduced into Scotland by John Speir, Newton Farm, Glasgow. He notes its reason for introduction:

“Owing to the increase of cartage work which annually occurs on this farm at, or immediately after, hay-making, the stacking of the hay crop was often, prior to 1886, difficult to accomplish before harvest began. In the spring of that year the idea occurred to me of combining the use of the rick-lifter and the horse-fork. The former had been in limited use on a few upland farms on the borders of Ayrshire and Lanarkshrire, and the latter was in general use in the hay-barns of America, and to a very limited extent in South Wales. Two rick-lifters and a horse-fork were ordered in plenty of time, and on trial the combination turned out so successful that a second set was ordered by a neighbour for use that same season. The combination of these two machines has been of immense advantage to farmers growing large areas of hay, and instead of the rick-lifter being confined to moorland districts, it and the horse-fork are now found on almost every farm in the west where hay is grown for home consumption or for sale to any considerable extent.”

Speir considered that “if we had a satisfactory machine for collecting loose hay, or which could bring hay in coils to the forkers at the field ricks, our method of making hay would be very much simplified, and the cost considerably reduced.”

Speir used on on his farm and widely published his view on the usefulness of the hay collector in the North British Agriculturist and in the Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, thus bringing attention to this most useful implement. The rest, they say, is history. It became widely used in Scotland. When horses were replacing tractors, they were converted for use with tractors and continued to be used until balers entered the hay field. In 1852 there were at least 27 makers of them throughout Britain, of which a good number were in Scotland.

America therefore had a long-lasting impact on the Scottish hay field, and one which radically transformed it.

The photos of the hay sweeps were taken at the Fife Vintage Agricultural Machinery Club rally, 2014 and the Borders agricultural machinery rally, 2015.


Buying a hay sweep in 1952

If you were a farmer or other agriculturist looking to buy a hay sweep in 1952 you could choose one from a number of makers. Although most of the makers were from England – such as Harry Ferguson Ltd of Coventry or Rickery Ltd, Carlisle, there were still a small number of Scottish makers.

In Aberdeenshire Tullos Ltd, Greenwell Road, Aberdeen, had sweeps for a wide range of tractors including Ferguson, Ford Ferguson, Fordson Major, David Brown, International and nuffield. Its sweeps had a width of 9ft 10 inches with tines of 8feet 11 inches.

In Perthshire you could get a tractor front attached sweep of 10 feet width from J. Bisset & Sons Ltd, Greenbank Works, Blairgowrie. Another maker intuit county was A. Proctor & Co., of Perthshire. The company made a sweep for tractor front mounting. There were two types: one with a universal fitting or hydraulic linkage with a capacity of 10cwt; a second was a combined sweet and a tripod hut transporter which could be converted by fitting with different tines. (This was an area where hay was forked onto tripods to dry). A third Perthshire maker was Alexander Thomas, Guildtown, which also made sweeps for tractors.

From the west of Scotland a key maker was Wm. Dickie & Sons Ltd, of Victoria Works, East Kilbride. The company made a folding hydraiulic sweep, mounted or fixed type, which would fir most makes of tractors. In Ayrshire, Thomas McKellar & Sons of High Fenwick, made one for attachment to tractors.

In the south-east farmers could by a tractor mounted sweep from John Rutherford & Sons Ltd, Home Place, Coldstream, Berwickshire.

A good selection of hay sweeps from a number of key makers in Scotland.

The photographs were taken at the Ayrshire vintage agricultural rally, July 2017.


A fine display of Scottish implements at the Royal Show in 1919

The Royal Show was the most significant agricultural show in England. While it was largely attended by English exhibitors – there was a huge number of English implement and machine makers – a number of Scottish exhibitors made the sometimes long journey to the English show. What did the Show look like 100 years ago and which Scottish implement makers exhibited at it?

The Scotsman newspaper provides an account of the Show:

“The extensive section of the show devoted to agricultural implements and machinery, seeds, feeding stuffs, and manures is always inspected with much care by agriculturists, who are able to watch and profit by the progress of invention in the production of labour-saving and effective appliances. There are 371 stands with 4000 exhibitors, representing practically every department of commerce, catering for those engaged in the cultivation of land and the breeding of livestock. The requirements of the great landowners, the gentleman farmer, the practical agriculturist, and the small holder, are all kept in view, and the miles of shedding included in this section are fitted with machinery, implements, seeds, and their produce, and the numerous requirements of a modern farm and estate.

Scottish exhibitorsAlthough the Show is so inaccessible for Scottish implement makers, there are no fewer than sixteen exhibitors from north of the Tweed, an increase of six compared with eighteen years ago. Some of these are well known and enterprising firms that are never absent from the Royal Society’s annual gathering, and a few make their appearance in the Society’s showyard for the first time. Of the eighty-one entries of new implements, three are from Scotland. They comprise the latest improvements in things mechanical as applied to the farm. The Glasgow tractor, which is manufactured by the D.L. Motor Manufacturing Company, Motherwell, is shown on the stand of John Wallace & Son, Glasgow. A working model has already been tested on three farms in Scotland-at South Hillington, near Glasgow, Dolphingstone, Tranent, East Lothian, and Wellfield, Gateside, Fife. Mr G. Bertram Shields, who was convener of the Implements Committee at the tractor trials of the Highland and Agricultural Society, testifies that the Glasgow tractors will revolutionise the whole tractor building of the present day, and adds that “as a practical proposition it will have advanced, or rather shortened, the time when we will have the tractor an everyday tool on most farms. The tractor can plough 1 ¾ acres of medium quality land per hour, working this at a depth of 8 ½ inches to 9 inches in stubble land, and 6 to 7 inches in lea land, with a composition of 1 ¾ gallons per acre. The cost under favourable climactic conditions works out at 7s 8d per acre, and under unfavourable conditions at 9s per acre. The tractor seems to have solved the difficulty of ploughing steep land, for it has gone up a gradient of 1 in 5, pulling a three furrow plough in medium soil working at a depth of 7 inches.

Messrs Alexander Jack & Sons, Maybole, exhibit an artificial manure distributor which has been manufactured by Mr Archibald Hunter, blacksmith, Cross Hill Road, Maybole. It is adapted to be attached to any ordinary construction of a drill or ridging plough. By its use the drawing of the drills or ridges and depositing of the manure in the drills can be done at one operation, which means a considerable saving in time and labour, and ensures a more even distribution of the manure than is attainable by hand sowing, and with very little addition to the draught. The hopper is capable of holding about half a cwt of manure, and can distribute from five to twelve cwts per acre. The manure distributor was tried by several Ayrshire farmers last spring for their potato and turnip crops, with satisfactory results. Mr David Wilson, East Linton, Prestonkirk, shows a potato raiser of his own manufacture. Since this machine was in the Royal and Highland Society’s competitions it has been enlarged, so that the straws or haulms get passed through. It however. Retains its salient feature, that it cannot damage, bury, or spread the tubers, thus saving labour in gathering. He also exhibits two different types of potato sorting machines, a haulm or straw cutter for one horse, which takes two drills at once, a washing machine for potatoes, and carrots, and an ingenious machine which mixes and riddles artificial manure at the same operation. The Albion Motor Car Company shows a hydraulic tipping wagon of 32hp which can carry a load of 3 ½ tons, and a motor lorry, 32 hp which can carry a 3 ton load.

Messrs Barclay, Ross & Hutchison, Aberdeen, have on view threshing machines to suit the needs of all sizes of farms. They have in all six types for fitting into barns. Messrs Robert G. Garvie & Sons, Aberdeen, exhibit specimens of their oil engines and threshing and finishing machines; and Messrs Marshall & Philip. Aberdeen, show spraying machines for lime-washing and fruit trees. Messrs George Sellar & Son, Huntly, exhibit a varied collection of ploughs, including their well-known double furrow self-lift tractor plough, manure distributors, and harrows.

From the south of Scotland there are two exhibitors. Messrs J. & R. Wallace, castle Douglas, show their milking machines which gained the Royal Society’s silver medal, with new patent pulsators requiring no lubrication; and a manure distributor with revolving axle. Messrs John S. Millar & Son, Annan, have forward several specimens of their windmill pumps and cream separators, combining petrol, motor and separator in one unit. Messrs William Elder & Sons, Berwick on Tweed, are again well to the front with an extensive stand comprising many articles of utility in farm husbandry, including broadcast sowing machines and drill rollers and scarifiers.

Messrs John Wallace & Sons, Glasgow, have a varied assortment of ploughs, manufactured at the Oliver Chilled Plow Works in Indiana, potato planters, potato diggers, manure distributors, and harrows; and Messrs Watson, Laidlaw & Co., Glasgow, show a number of cream separators for steam and hand power. Messrs Alex Jack & Sons, Maybole, are well represented by potato raisers and manure distributors; and Messrs Thomas Hunter & Sons, Maybole, have an excellent selection of the cultivating implements for which the firm have earned a name. In addition, they show their Scottish farm and harvest carts. The Edinburgh Roperie and Sailcloth Co., Leith, exhibit plough lines and waterproof covers.

An attractive stand is provided by Messrs P. & J. Haggart, Aberfeldy, who demonstrate to farmers and wool growers what can be produced from homegrown wool. The stand is draped with the Duke of Rothesay’s tartan, in honour of the Prince of Wales’s visit.”

You will still recognise some of the names. They included some of the foremost Scottish agricultural implement makers.

The photos are from the Fife Vintage Agricultural Machinery rally, June 2017 and other rallies.


Horse forksThe horse fork was an indispensable part of the stackyard at hay-making time.

The horse fork was an indispensable part of the stackyard at hay-making time.

It was a means to lift hay in hay from a ruck or rick onto a stack that was being built. It was, according to Stephens’ Book of the Farm in 1908, “a simple and convenient arrangement for hoisting the hay”. It was a pole “about 35 feet high, which is held in upright position by three or four guy-ropes rom the top of the pole to iron pins driven into the ground. A short “jib” or “gaff”, 10 feet long or so, is arranged to slide up and down the pole, being worked by pulleys from the ground. The fork is attached to an inch hemp rope or 1/2 inch steel strand rope, which passes over a pulley at the point of the jib or gaff, thence down the upper surface of the gaff to its lower end, where it passes over another pulley, from which it runs down the side of the pole to about 3 feet from the ground, where it passes through the pole and under a pulley fixed in it, where it is attached to the tree or chains by which a horse draws up the forkful.

The pole is set with a slight lean to the stack which is being built, so that as soon as the ascending load has been raised above the portion already built, the gaff or jib with its load always swings round over the top of the stack, where it can be dropped on almost any part of even a large stack.”

The horse fork had a number of advantages. Stacks built with one were more easily kept perpendicular than those built from hand-forking. They allowed hay to be more evenly distributed onto the top of the stack as it was being built. They allowed a larger number of forkers to work at one time, and for them to more efficiently build a stack. And, of course, it was a great labour-saving device!

There were a number of makers of horse forks in Scotland. In 1904 Alex Sloan, Greenhill, Crosshouse, developed one that was manufactured by Wm. Wilson & Son, Plaan Saw Mill, Crosshouse. According to the Scottish Farmer, in that year “it has now been tried by some of the leading agriculturists, who bear testimony to its superiority.”

In 1910 other makers included P. & R. Fleming & Co., 16 Graham Square and 29 Argyle Street, Glasgow, had a “Flemiing” grapple horse fork and a “Fleming” spear horse fork. Both cost £2 10s. Thomas Turnbull, Pleasance Implement Works, Dumfries, sold a patent clip horse fork made by McGeorge, Dumfries. In the north of England, William Elder & Sons Ltd, also made one.

The photographs from the Fife Vintage Agricultural Machinery Club rally, June 2014, show a horse fork in use.


Scottish agricultral implement makers at the English shows – 1908

We are familiar with English agricultural makers at the Scottish agricultural shows including the Highland Show. English makers were exibiting at that show in increasing numbers from the 1850s. However, while there was a significant movement of English makers northwards, there was not the same movement southwards. Relatively few of the Scottish makers exhibited at the English agricultural shows, including the Royal Show. They tended, however, to be the major companies with a national and international reputation.

An account of the Royal Agricultural Show in 1908, published in the Scotsman in June that year provides insights into the major Scottish makers who took their manufactures south to exhibit at that show, together with the specific implements and machines they took.

“The Scottish implement trade is well represented, there being twenty-five firms from the other side of the Border exhibiting typical collections of the agricultural appliances which are manufactured in the northern part of the kingdom, and in the production of which the makers show a commendable amount of skill and enterprise. Most of them are regularly seen at the Royal Society’s Shows, no matter how remote the district may be in which the tents are pitched, and they never fail to bring with them an interesting display. That they can do so with success is shown by the fact that out of eleven competitors, exhibiting nineteen implements in the trial of artificial manure distributors, the two medals have been gained by makers from Scotland. Messrs Allan Brothers, Aberdeen, have a neat stand of a thoroughly practical character, embracing manure distributors, seed-sowing and threshing machines, and a simplex pump, all manufactured by the Bon Accord Engineering Company, together with horizontal oil engines, constructed to work with any brand of oil, and with claims to be specially applicable to farm work. On a small but compact stand Messrs J. D. Allan & Sons, Murthly, show a farmyard dung spreader for drills, one advantage which it possesses being that it can be attached to any ordinary from cart. They also sow, among other useful articles, the potato dresser, which Mr David Wilson, East Lothian, patented a few years ago, and which has been found to do its work vey satisfactorily. Three Ayrshire firms, which are always in evidence at the national agricultural shows of England and Scotland, as well as the principal district shows, are again well to the front in the implement department. Messrs Alex Jack & Sons, Maybole, make a feature of their broadcast manure distributors, for one of which they were awarded the bronze medal in the competitive trial, and in addition to these they have a varied assortment of reapers and mowers, horse rakes, the “Caledonian” potato diggers, which won the first prize at the Royal Society’s Leicester Show twelve years ago, when these machines were brought to a degree of perfection which had not up till then been attained, and several ploughs, with the latest improvements for dealing specially with soils of different texture on both lea and stubble are also shown. Messrs Thomas Hunter & Sons, Maybole, have a select display of useful implements in every-day use on the farm, inclusing their well-known root-cleaning and turnip-raining inventions. The exhibits of Mr Andrew Pollock, Mauchline, are mainly connected with the hay harvest, for securing which he has several implements for facilitating work at that critical period of the season. The Carron Company, Carron, Stirlingshire, display fittings for stable, cowsheds, and piggery, in which cast-iron stall divisions, feeding troughs, and other up-to-date contrivances figure prominently. They also show a portable boiler, with loose inside pan and close base. there is a large display of purely agricultural implements at the stand of Messrs William Elder & Sons (Limited), Berwick on Tweed. The latest in sheaf-binds, mowers and reapers, horse rakes, straw trussers, sowing machines, drill rollers, grubbers, &c are on view. Messrs P. & R. Fleming & Company, Argyle Street, and Graham Square, Glasgow, make a feature of a milking machine by Lawrence & Kennedy, Glasgow, and a nw type of oil engine. Waugh’s patent sheep-dipping apparatus, potato and charlock sprayers, and horse forks are also on the stand. The exhibit of Messrs John McBain & Son, Chirnside, Berwickshire, is a varied one, including a corn bin, turnip cutter, horse rake, oil engine, swath turner, sheep rack, scuffler, and a “Monarch” windmill. Messrs Mackenzie & Moncur Limited, Balcarres Street, Edinburgh, have on view a conservatory, a complete with staging and fitting, and garden games. A set of stable and cowhouse fittings, and a collection of sanitary and other castings complete the exhibit. Messrs J. & R. Wallace, Castle Douglas Foundry, Castle Douglas, exhibit a serviceable manure distributor, with adjustable hopper, which secured the gold medal in the trial competition. There are also to be seen at their stand two other types of distributor,a sheep dipper, and a milking machine which was awarded a silver medal by the RASE at park Royal in 1905. Windmills and pumps are what Messrs John S, Millar & Son, Annan, have to show the visitor. The former include the “Ideal”, which pumps water up to 300 feet, vertical lift, or drains low-lying lands and quarries; and the “Samson”, for water supply to farms and dwellings, or for draining low ground. Messrs Robertsons & Company, Tweed iron Works, Berwick on Tweed, have on view mowers, reapers, hay rakes, corn bins, ploughs, turnip cutters and slicers, each with special advantages of their own. 

A collection of two wheel ploughs is shown by Messrs george Sellar & Son, Huntly, who also have on their stand double furrow ploughs, and 11 tine harrows. Messrs Thomas Sherriff & Company, West Barns, Dunbar, have forward a drill and broadcasst seeder for small holdings, drills for corn and seed, for turnip and mangold, and a broadcast sower for all kinds of grain and grass and clover seeds. A choice display of churns of the “Waverley” and duplicate end-over pattern is made by Messrs Sinton & Son, Waverley Churn Works, jedburgh. these range in capacity from 3 gallons to 20 gallons. Two nice types of weigh bridge are shown by Messrs W. Smith & Co, New Broughton, Edinburgh-“The Standard” and “The Farm Live Stock weigher” with self-locking and expanding cattle weighing cage, Machines for lime washing and disinfecting and a syracuse “Easy” washer are at the stand of Messrs Marshall & Philp, 179 Union Street, Aberdeen. Messrs John Wallace & Sons Ltd, Graham Square, Glasgow, make a brave show, with manure distributors, potato diggers, mowers and reapers, “Oliver” ploughs of various types, and other farm requisites. Cream separators of the “Princess” type, driven by steam turbine, and of the “Princess” and “Princess Victoria” make, hand driven, are shown by Messrs Watson, Laidlaw & Company Ltd, Dundas Street, Glasgow, who also have on their stand hydro extractors, an oil separator, &c. Messrs Kemp & Nicholson, Scottish Central Works, Stirling, exhibit a hay baler, manure distributor, turnip cutting cart, and farm tipping cart.”

An eminent collection of implements and machines by leading Scottish makers.

the photographs were taken at a number of rallies throughout Scotland from 2013 onwards.