Early ploughing matches

Back in the 1790s the Board of Agriculture and Internal Improvement was starting to encourage agriculturists to arrange ploughing matches so that ploughing skills could be promoted and improved. By that time a small number of agricultural clubs had also recognized the importance of promoting skills in ploughing. These included the Farmer Society of Clackmannan, one of the first associations to arrange ploughing matches. Another early match was held in Kinros-shire, under the auspices of Dr Coventry, the professor of Agriculture at the University of Edinburgh. Enterprising landowners, such as Sir John Clerk of Penicuik also played an important role in stimulating local matches on their estates.

The Scottish newspapers provided a number of accounts of these early ploughing matches. They are worth quoting as they show how the earliest matches were organized and set up, their competitiveness as well as their sociability. 

Ploughing match, held 11th Nov. 1785 (from the Caledonian mercury) 
We hear from Clackmananshire, that the Farmer Club of Clackmananshire, having concerted to have a trial this season of the ploughmen’s skill in breaking up old ley ground, with a proper seed furrow, the match was undertaken this day upon a field of old grass in Lord Cathcart’s estate, where two pattern ridges had been ploughed the day before by Alexander Verty, the first ploughman who gained a medal from the Farmer Club. Thirty-seven two horse ploughs started, their places upon the field having been taken by lot. The whole ploughmen gave proofs of their skill, which gave much satisfaction to the Club, and to the judges who were called to examine the work. The first premium was adjudged to James Young, ploughman to Mr Andrew Stein; the second to George Verty, ploughman to Mr Reoch; the third to Robert Meiklejohn, ploughman to Mr James Stein; and the fourth to James Pow, servant to Mr Reoch.

Lord Cathcart, who is a member of the Club, afterwards gave an elegant entertainment to the Club, and other gentlemen who had attended to witness so pleasing and so useful an exhibition. It is surprising how much this institution has inspired the ploughmen in that part of the country, with an emulation to excel one another in their possessions.
After the ploughing match was over, a bet betwixt most of the members of the Club, for the straightest line to be drawn by the plough, was gained by Mr Andrew Stein, his ploughman Alexander Verty having drawn a furrow admitted by all parties to be the straightest.

The Kinros-shire annual ploughing match, according to the Caledonian mercury in March 1792 , took place on the 19th current, in a field at Shanwell, belonging to Dr Andrew Coventry, professor of agriculture, when twenty six ploughs appeared in competition. The judges, after examining the work, were highly satisfied with the performance of all the ploughmen, and gave the first prize to Alexander Sutton, servant to Dr Coventry-the second to William Simpson, son to Mr James Simpson, of Maw-kerse-the third to James Inglis, servant to Mr Andrew Stein, of Hattonburn-the fourth to Robert Beveridge, also servant to Mr Stein-and the fifth to Robert Hutton, servant to Dr Coventry.On Monday last, according to the Caledonian mercury, in December 1794, there was a great ploughing match at Pennycuik House. Thirty three ploughs started for the premiums, which were given by Sir John Clerk, Bart. The highest premium was a medal, and a plough made by Thomas Lindsay, at Abbeyhill, with an improved muzzle, by Duncan Clark of Kintyre; and the next, a turnip plough. The judges determined the first in favour of Mr Walter Tait, tenant in Sherswell; and the second, to John Wilson, servant to Mr James Laurie, tenant in Pennycuick Mill. But it is only doing justice to the other persons who ploughed, and who had come from different parishes for the purpose, to say, that tho they did not obtain the premiums, yet the judges declared their approbation of their skill in the art. A very great concourse of people from all part s of the country were assembled; and there is no doubt but much real knowledge in the nature and management of that most useful instrument the Plough, must have been acquired by the young ploughmen who attended on that day; and it is ardently to be willed, that other parts of Scotland would oftner adopt these ploughing matches, which certainly do much good, by creating an emulation and rivalship among that class of people. 

When the match was over, Sir John Clerk gave a dinner to several of his friends, and many of the most respectable of the tenants on his estate, and in his neighbourhood. About fifty sat down to dinner in Ossian’s Hall, while the ploughmen, competitors for the premiums, and many other respectable people, were hospitably entertained in another apartment.

The ploughing match of the Farmers Club of the county of Clackmanan, according to the Caledonian mercury in April 1798, was held on Friday the 9th of March, on a field in Mr Erskine of Marr’s farm of Lanshill, in the parish of Alloa. Fifty lots were marked off, but only forty six ploughmen belonging to eighteen different farmers made their appearance.

On the ploughmen, drawing their lots, they repaired to their several stations; but as some of the farmers resided at four or five miles distance, it was eleven o’clock before all the men were ready to begin their work, when, on a signal being given, they all started at the same time.
The desire and anxiety of excelling that appeared in the ploughmen afforded a pleasing sensation to the spectators. The field which had been two years in grass, and was lately divided by the turnpike road passing through it, is most fortunately situated for shewing off to advantage this pleasant and useful exhibition. 
It was in tolerable good order, and the ploughing was in general extremely good; but as it is almost impossible to obtain a spot of ground sufficient to hold such a number of ploughs, that every lot should be of equal goodness, the work of the ploughmen cannot appear all alike, as a bad lot will occasion one ploughman’s work looking inferior to his neighbour’s although they possess equal skill. 

The judges appointed by the Club were, Mr Andrew Stein of Hattonburn, and Mr James Thomson, tenant in Park, in the parish of Clackmanan. 
They, after a minute and careful inspection, appointed the first medal, which includes the Silver Medal.
To James Drysdale, ploughman to Mr John Thomson, tenant in Jellyholm, in the parish of Alloa.
The second premium to William Glass, ploughman to the said Mr John Thomson.
The third premium to Ebenezeer Drysdale, ploughman to Mr James Reoch, tenant in the Hillend of Clackmanan.
The fourth premium to Edward Fotheringham, ploughman to Mr Robert Stein, tenant of the Bows of Alloa. 
And the fifth premium to John Donaldson, a young man, servant to Mr John Thomson of Jellyholm. 
The work gave great satisfaction to the Club, who have, by this useful institution, rendered this small corner for its ploughmen.-It is believed that there are not many parts of Britain where such a number of farmers can produce in the common way of business forty-six ploughmen able to shew such skill.

The photographs were taken at the Scottish ploughing championships, October 2019


Some implement makers in the north-east of Scotland

The north-east of Scotland had some prominent implement and machine makers that were known well-beyond the boundaries of that district; some were known world wide as well as their manufacturers. 

We can meet the makers and their manufacturers through a range of evidence, including show reports and business records. Obituaries also provide a range of evidence, and give us a good opportunity to meet the men and women behind their companies, their achievements as well as their role within their wider communities. 

We have looked through a number of newspapers to find obituaries of a number of prominent implement and machine makers from the north-east of Scotland before the end of the First World War. Many of them would have been known to one another. 

The late Mr J. W. Barclay, CA (died November 1902) The Aberdeen press and journal notes:  
“A cablegram, received by his father on Saturday, announces the death, on 10th November, of Mr James W. Barclay, CA, only surviving son of Mr Morison Barclay, of the well-known firm of Messrs Barclay, Ross, and Tough, agricultural implement makers, seed merchants, etc, Carmelite Buildings, Aberdeen, a nephew and namesake of Mr J. W. Barclay of Glenbuchat, formerly MP for Forfarshire. Mr Barclay died at sea on his way home from Buenos Ayres, and the cablegram was despatched from the first telegraph station passed in the Pacific. He was on the way home to see if the change would restore him to health, which had broken down under a recent strain of work in Buenos Ayres. He had been there for about four years, and had kept his health wonderfully well, although formerly he had been far from robust, it was after his health had broken down in London that he was induced by medical advice to go to Buenos Ayres. Mr Barclay, who was about 33 years of age, served his apprenticeship as an accountant with Messrs James Meston and Co., CA, Aberdeen, and after he had himself qualified as a chartered accountant, set up business in London, where he met with remarkable success. The strain proved too great for him, however, and, as stated, he was induced to go to South America, where he held a good appointment in connection with one of the railways. Deceased was a genial, clever, and capable business man, who made many friends by his hearty manner. While in Aberdeen he took a great interest in athletic sports. He was not married. Much sympathy will be felt for his relatives in their unexpected bereavement. It may be mentioned that Mr Barclay’s other son, who was an engineer on board a steamer, died at sea about four years ago when crossing the line. 

Death of Mr William Anderson (died June 1911). The Aberdeen press and journal notes: 
“Mr William Anderson, of the firm of Messrs Barclay, Ross, and Tough, seedsman, implement makers, etc, Balmoral Buildings, Green, died at his residence, 24 Leadside Road, Aberdeen, yesterday. Mr Anderson, although 83 years of age, and in somewhat failing health for the last years or so, continued to take a keen interest in the business of the firm with which he had been associated since its commencement in 1871. Prior to that he had been with Mr Morrison Barclay, and also with the late Mr J. W. Barclay when the latter gentleman had an agricultural business in the city before his election as MP for Forfarshire.
Mr Anderson’s great hobby was Arctic exploration, and so keen was he on this that he took part in three expeditions to Greenland aboard whaling and sealing vessels. At one time he was there when the vessels Lady Franklin and Eric went to look for Franklin, the intrepid searcher for the North-West passage. 
Mr Anderson was a well-educated man. He received his early education in the Strichen School, having been a native of Lonmay. Early in life he acquired a knowledge of drawing, and this proved of considerable advantage to him in later years with agriculture, however that his chief interests were concerned. He was very keen in business, and proved himself an intelligent and active servant to the firm. 
Mr Anderson is survived by a family of two sons and three daughters. All are in Aberdeen, with the exception of one daughter, who is in Glasgow.” 

Death of Mr James Reid, engineer, Peterhead (died April 1914) 
Buchan observer and East Aberdeenshire advertiser notes: 
“Many kindly memories will be stirred by the announcement of the death of Mr James Reid, retired engineer, Peterhead, which took place on Friday last at the residence of his sister, 10 Castle Street. Mr Reid, who was 77 years of age, retired from active work about six years ago, and enjoyed excellent health for a few years, but latterly he suffered from a cancerous trouble in his throat, which ultimately caused his death. Mr Reid was a son of the late Mr Peter Reid, builder, Peterhead, and served his apprenticeship as an engineer with Messrs Robert Mitchell & Son, of the Peterhead Foundry, and he remained with the firm until it gave up business over thirty years ago. Since that time up to his retirement he worked continuously with the firm of Messrs James Simpson & Son, agricultural engineers and implement makers, Peterhead, by whom he was held in the highest esteem and respect, both for his capabilities as a craftsman and for his personal character. He was a skilled tradesman, careful and thorough, and his workmanship could always be depended on for soundness and durability. Many men now occupying responsible and important positions as engineers in some of the leading steamship lines, notably the Orient and Pacific, and in other engineering capabilities, readily express their great indebtedness for their success in their craft to the thorough training given and the kindly interest shown in them by Mr Reid in the engineering shop at Peterhead, and the kindliest of thoughts of the old man will mingle in their hearts with the sincerest of regrets at his decease.

For many years Mr Reid was a leading spirit in the musical affairs of the town. Well versed in music, and possessed of a splendid voice of very extensive range, he and his brothers, John, Peter, and David, each of whom was musically gifted, formed a quartet of singers such as is seldom met with in one family. He and his two elder brothers with a few others were the originators of the Peterhead Choral Society, and he maintained his connection and interest in that body for a lengthened time, and he was a not infrequent soloist at the concerts. In the ‘seventies he was leader of psalmody in the Free Church, St Peter Street, and his choir of those days is still spoken of with admiration by elderly people. He was also for some time psalmody leader in the Parish Church. In disposition Mr Reid was quiet and retiring, but with friends he was genial and affable, and he had a vein of humour which his associated enjoyed. His death will be regretted by all who knew him. He was predeceased by his wife a number of years ago, and is survived by a grown-up family of four sons and four daughters. The funeral took place to the Old Churchyard yesterday in presence of a large and representative attendance.” 

Robert Tough (died April 1918) Aberdeen press and journal writes: 
“The death took place last night at his residence, 14 Whinhill Road, Aberdeen, of Mr Robert Tough. Mr Tough was well known in agricultural circles throughout the north of Scotland, his firm of Messrs R. Tough and Sons, seed and implement makers, Imperial Place, Aberdeen, having a large connection throughout Aberdeen and the north-east.” 

On 1 May 1918 the Aberdeen press and journal provided a more extensive obituary: 
“As briefly reported yesterday, the death of Mr Robert Tough, of the firm of Messrs R. Tough and Sons, seedsmen and implement makers, Imperial Place, Aberdeen, occurred on Monday night at his residence, 14 Whinhill Road, Aberdeen. He was a native of Foveran, and before joining the well-known firm of Messrs Barclay, Ross, and Tough, Aberdeen, he represented Messrs Ben Reid & Co., and Messrs John Milne and Co., Dyce. About three years ago he started business on his own account. 
Mr Tough, who was of ine physique, had an attractive personality. In agricultural circles in the northern-eastern counties and in a much wider area he was exceedingly well known. He was an expert salesman, and was always ready to give the very best advice to his customers. For many years Mr Tough represented Messrs Barclay, Ross and Tough at the national shows of England, Ireland, and Scotland, and he did much to extend that firm’s business ramifications among farmers in the United Kingdom for threshing plants and certain kinds of farm machinery. He was predeceased by Mrs Tough about two years ago.” 

R. H. N. Sellar, Huntly (died July 1918) The Aberdeen press and journal writes: 
“Vice-Convener of County
Active business and public life
We deeply regret to announced the death of Mr R. H. N. Sellar, Vice-Convener of Aberdeenshire, and senior member of the well-known form of Messrs G. Sellar and Son, agricultural implement makers, Huntly and Alloa. The sad event took place at his residence, Battleby, Huntly, at a quarter to ten o’clock last night. Mr Sellar had not been in robust health for some time, his illness taking a serious turn about three months ago, but after an operation in a nursing home in Glasgow he was able to be removed to Bridge of Allan. After a short residence there he returned north about five weeks ago. He was 58 years of age. Mr Sellar had lived a very active business and public life, and the sincerest sympathy of a very wide circle of friends will go out to his widow and family in their great sorrow.
Mr Robert Hunter Nicol Sellar was the eldest son of the late Mr George Sellar, and was born in Huntly in 1857, the other members of his father’s family still alive being-Miss Sellar, Polwood, Huntly; Mr James Sellar, solicitor, Penang; and Mr John Sellar, who is in business in South Africa. He was educated at the Huntly Parish School, under the late Rev John Macdonald, best known and still remembered as Dominie Macdonald, and afterwards at Aberdeen University. Returning to Huntly to join his father in business, he received a thorough training in all its departments. On the death of his father in 1884 he became head of the firm, and by his personal energy and enterprise extended its ramifications and added to his high reputation in the agricultural world. Implements, designed, patented, and manufactured by the firm, have long enjoyed a high reputation. Indeed, not only in the north, but in the home and colonial markets, and in many countries abroad, “Sellar, Huntly”, is a name that stands everywhere for merit. Mr Sellar was also himself personally well known, having travelled extensively to further the interests of his business. About five years ago a considerable part of the Huntly establishment was transferred to Alloa, where a large business was successfully established. The war has brought with it many improvements in agricultural machinery, and the Sellar centres have been prominent in war-time features of the industry.

Besides attending closely to the demands of his business, Mr Sellar found time to play an active and acceptable part in public life, which, in certain spheres, was by no means confined to the district of Huntly and the county, but was of a national character. In his native town he served on the School Board for nearly 30 years, and sat for five years at the Town Council, being elected a Councillor and Baillie in 1898, and retiring in 1903 owing to the pressure of business. His deepest interest undoubtedly lay in the domain of education. Soon after his father’s death, he was elected a member of Huntly School Board, and on the retirement of the late Mr John Wilson, factor, in 1902, he was appointed chairman, a position he occupied to the last. The extension and development of the local schools were greatly due to his personal efforts and initiative; and the handsome Gordon schools, in their present splendidly equipped state, might almost be said to be a memorial to his educational service to the Huntly district.
In 1898 Mr Sellar entered the Aberdeen County Council as representative of the burgh of Huntly in succession to Colonel W. A. Mellie, but latterly he represented the electoral division of Cairnie, Glass, and Huntly. In 1902 he was appointed Chairman of the Huntly District Committee in succession to Mr John Wilson, and continued in that post until his death. The interest he showed in, and the grip he was able to take of the business which came before the Council gave him an assured position amongst the members, and in July, 1909, following upon the death of Provost Hutcheon, Turriff, he was elected Vice-Convener of the County. The duties of that office, as, indeed, those of every post he was placed in throughout his public career, were discharged with zeal and acceptance, while making himself conversant with all phases of local government, he showed himself invariably to be a man of prescience and broad outlook. Mr Sellar, who was also convener of the Lands Valuation and Finance Committees of the County Council, was elected Chairman of the County Committee on Secondary Education, and also Chairman of the Aberdeen Provincial Committee for the Training of Teachers-selections which testify to the confidence of those with whom he was associated. Not without cause was it humorously suggested that the Secondary Education Committee and Mr Sellar were practically synonymous terms, and his energy, tact, and business capacity in dealing with the difficult and complex questions which came before those bodies were readily acknowledged. He held those offices throughout important periods of educational development, and in each revealed an enthusiasm and foresight worthy of the best educational traditions of the north-eastern area of Scotland. His six years’ tenure of office was marked by the erection of the magnificent new Training Centre at Aberdeen. He was a member of Sir Henry Craik’s Committee which reported upon the salaries of Scottish teachers several months ago.

The North of Scotland College of Agriculture was another institution in which Mr Sellar rendered useful service. He was one of the original governors, had been vice-chairman for some years, and was chairman of the Central Studies and Staff Committee, whose work has much to do with the success of the College throughout the north. He manifested a deep interest in the promotion of the educational side of the various branches of forestry, and in 1911 he was appointed to a Forestry Committee of Inquiry for Scotland. This Committee recommended the purchase of Ballogie as a forest area for the north of Scotland. That the scheme was not gone on with is matter for regret, as the purchase price of the ground would have been more than met by the timber which it has yielded during the past four years.
Amongst Mr Sellar’s most recent appointments was that of chairman of the County of Aberdeen Local Food Control Committee. He was a Justice of Peace for the County and a Hon. Sheriff Substitute.
A specially warm corner in his heart was reserved by Mr Sellar for Huntly and its institutions, and his untiring educational services for it have already been alluded to. He was Chairman of the jubilee Cottage Hospital Managers, and Chairman of the District Nursing Association. He took a deep interest in the welfare of Huntly United Free Church, and for over thirty years had been its treasurer. In politics he was a Moderate Liberal, and held the office of President of the Huntly Liberal Association. Mr Sellar leaves a widow and a family of three sons and one daughter, one son-Lieut J. M. Sellar, of the K.O.S.B.-having been killed din the war. Mrs Sellar is a daughter of the late Mr Thomson, of Messrs Glegg and Thomson, Aberdeen. The eldest son, Mr Robert Thomson Sellar, after being in Canada for some years gaining business insight, returned home a few months ago, and has been associated with the management of the firm.”


Socialising with the Scottish agricultural implement makers

We may not be able to socialise with our work colleagues and our family members as a result of the pandemic. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t recollect and celebrate the social activities of the implement makers. 

A number of the implement makers, like other industries, held a range of formal events of the work staff. These include visits, dances and other events in the community. They were much looked forward to.

We have attached a number of accounts of these social events from 1900 onwards. They provide a range of insights into the human side of the businesses and their employees and how they came together.

One business that had arranged a number of events for its staff was Ben Reid & Co., Aberdeen. It held a range of annual events. An account from the Aberdeen Press and Journal on 10 February 1900 also provides information on the development of the business:

“The annual assembly of the employees of Messrs Ben Reid and Co., engineers, nurserymen, and seedsmen, was held in the Trades Hall, Aberdeen, last night, under the presidency of Mr Alex Hay. There was a large attendance, and amongst those present were Mr Geo. Duncan, manager of the engineering works, and Mr Morrison Barclay, implement maker. After tea had been served, The Chairman, in the course of some remarks, said he had many pleasant recollections in connection with the Bon-Accord Works, and those employed and associated with them. His recollections went back for about forty years, and before the Bon Accord Works, where they now stood, were built. The engineering department of the firm was founded about 42 years ago by Ben. Reid and Co., seedsmen and nurserymen, a firm that had been in existence for about a century. The implement and engineering works were started in a small way, and carried on under the able management of the late respected Mr Geo. Reid, with whom for many years he was closely associated. The connecting link of the combined business was broken on Mr Geo. Reid’s death in 1881, and they were carried on separately for about sixteen years. After the decease of Mr Anderson-who at the time of his death was sole partner of the Bon Accord Works-the firm purchased the engineering establishment from Mr Anderson’s trustees in 1896, so that the business of seedsmen, nurserymen, and agricultural engineers was again combined and consolidated. In conclusion, the chairman said it was very gratifying to the firm that they had such a body of first class, reliable, and capable workmen in all the departments. (Applause).
A most enjoyable programme of songs etc was then gone through, being contributed to by Miss Gordon, Miss B. Bruce, Miss E. Willox, Misses W. Wilson, Griffan, W. McWillie, and W. Murdoch. The accompaniments were tastefully played by Miss Bremner. At the close of the concert dancing was taken part in, the duties of M.C.’s being ably discharged by Messrs Kinnaird, Robertson, Cormack, and McHardy. The success of the function was in a great measure due to the admirable arrangements made by the committee, with Mr W. Mitchell as secretary.” 

In July 1915 Newlands and Sons of Linlithgow arranged an excursion fro the workers. These excursions were commonplace in central Scotland. They tended to go to fairly local places. They could enjoy the journey and the place where they visited. The Linlithgowshire Gazette of 23 July provides a favourable account of the excursion.

“On Saturday last the employees of Messrs Newlands and Sons, agricultural implement makers, along with their friends, enjoyed the first excursion organised by the firm, when their venue was Callander, which they reached in Mr Galbraith’s motor char-a-banc. They were lucky enough to be favoured by weather which was good, and kept steadily favourable throughout the whole day, when they were journeying through the beautiful country to their destination. A halt was made at Stirling, giving the party an opportunity to wander through this historic town. The day’s outing was voted thoroughly enjoyable.”

Newlands and Sons also contributed to the annual festival in Linlithgow. In June 1929 the Linlithgowshire gazette recorded its contribution to the march:

“On Saturday last the employees of Messrs Newlands and Sons, agricultural implement makers, along with their friends, enjoyed the first excursion organised by the firm, when their venue was Callander, which they reached in Mr Galbraith’s motor char-a-banc. They were lucky enough to be favoured by weather which was good, and kept steadily favourable throughout the whole day, when they were journeying through the beautiful country to their destination. A halt was made at Stirling, giving the party an opportunity to wander through this historic town. The day’s outing was voted thoroughly enjoyable.”

Social events also included an annual dance and wist drive. Whist drives were extremely popular social events in the past. Sellars of Huntley were one business that held an annual staff social. The Aberdeen Press and Journal provided an amount of the social in December 1936:

“Guests at the annual whist drive and dance of the employees of Messrs George Sellar & Son, agricultural implement makers, Huntly, which took place in Huntly Hotel Hall, were welcomed by Mr Robert T. Sellar on behalf of Mrs Sellar and himself.
He remarked that since they met a year ago industry in the country generally had been prospering, and unemployment figures were very much reduced.
Farmers were finding it very difficult to get labour, as many men had gone into the military and air service, and consequently there had been a bigger demand for tractors.”

Another business that had an annual dance was Barclay, Ross and Hutchison, agricultural implement makers and seedsmen, Aberdeen. An account of its annual dance from the Aberdeen Press and Journal on 20 February 1937, suggests that this was given to thank the staff for their support during the year. It appeared to be a much enjoyed event:

“The staff of Messrs Barclay, Ross and Hutchison, agricultural implement makers and seedsmen, Aberdeen, were thanked for the loyal support and co-operation they had given during the year by Mr T. Hutchison last night, on the occasion of the staff’s annual dance.
A company of about 140 enjoyed whilst, supper and dancing in the Palais de Danse. Mr T. Hutchison presided at supper, and along with him were Mr M. Heddle, county road surveyor, and Mrs Heddle; Mr G. Donald, lecturer in the principles of agriculture, and Mrs Donald; and Mr A. A. Girling.
Mrs Hutchison handed over the whist prizes to the following-women- 1. Mrs D. Kinghorn, 2. Mrs G. Watt, 3. Mrs N. Salmon, 4. Miss C. Reid (after a tie with Mrs A. McCombie); consolation, Miss M. Cruickshank. Men-1. A. Smart, 2. Gordon Watt, 3. T. Hutchison, 4. A. Farquharson (after a tie with A. A. Girling); consolation, E. Dawson; travelling prize, A. Smart.
For their interest in the gathering and the staff, Mr and Mrs Hutchison were cordially thanked on the call of Mr Girling.
The arrangements were made by a committee, of which Mr A. Rae was secretary.”

Do you recollect any social events with the implement makers?


Happy New Year

Here’s hoping that 2021 will be a good year. 

We are looking forward to celebrating our Scottish agricultural implement makers from past years.

We hope you will continue to join us on our exploration of the makers and their manufactures.


The A to Z of Scottish agricultural implement makers

Z is for ….

Well, we couldn’t find a company starting with the letter z. 

Can you think of one? 

If you have enjoyed the A to Z series you might be interested in Scottish agricultural implement and machine maker, 1843-1914: a directory. It includes lots of information about who was making these manufactures, as well as their products, awards, incidence of their advertising in the Scottish agricultural press as well as a whole lot more. More details are below. 

And even better, it is on special offer until the end of the year.


The A to Z of Scottish agricultural implement makers

Y is for …

J. & T. Young, boilermakers, engineers, iron and millwrights’ founders, Vulcan Foundry, Ayr, Ayrshire 
William D. Young & Co., manufacturers of iron and wire fences, gates, bridges, roofs &c, Beaverbank, Lower Broughton Road, Edinburgh 
Youngson Brothers, Hall Place, Elgin, Morayshire 

As would be expected, there are not too many names under the letter Y. 

One of the old Ayrshire names is J. & T. Young, Newton Green, Ayrshire, which first advertised in the North British Agriculturists in 1849. Its foundry was the Vulcan. It undertook a range of trades including agricultural engineer, agricultural implement maker, boilermaker, engineer, millwright, iron fence and hurdle maker, machine maker and millwright, marine engineer, and steam boiler maker. These trades suggest that it undertook a wide range of manufacturing activities. 

It won a number of medals at the Highland Show from 1857 to 1871. These indicate the variety of work undertaken by this maker. In 1857 it was awarded 2 sovereigns for the best cheese press. In 1859, it was awarded L4 for the best sowing machine for mangolds, L2 for the best cheese press, and L1 for best curd cutter for dairy purposes.

In 1860 it was awarded 3 sovereigns for the best sowing machine for turnips, and 
3 sovereigns for best sowing machine for mangolds. In 1868, it received a commendation for reaping and mowing machines. This was followed by silver medals in 1870 and 1871 for its collection. 

An Edinburgh name from the nineteenth century was William D. Young & Co., manufacturers of iron and wire fences, gates, bridges, roofs &c, Beaverbank, Lower Broughton Road.

William D. Young was taken over by Young, Peddie & Co., 54 North Hanover Street, Edinburgh in early 1850. It also had premises in Glasgow. It continued as an iron fence, gate, bridge and conservatory manufacturers and contractors, agricultural implement makers, until the early 1860s. 

The company received numerous awards from the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. These include: 
In 1856, an award of 5 sovereigns for best land presser for preparing seed bed and for grain, award of 2 sovereigns for best stone or iron stack pillars with framework, and a commendation for wrought iron lodge entrance gate etc.

In 1857, an award of 2 sovereigns for best stone or iron stack pillars with framework, and a commendation for general collection of implements and wire work 
In 1858, an award of 4 sovereigns for best liquid manure distributing machine, 2 sovereigns for best horse stubble or hayrake, 2 sovereigns for best stone or iron stack pillars with framework, 1 sovereign for best field gate constructed entirely of iron, and 1 sovereign for best iron netting for sheep fence
In 1859, bronze medal for second best land presser for preparing seed bed for grain, bronze medal for second best hand stubble or hay rake, bronze medal for second best sheep fodder rack, bronze medal for second best divisions, rack and manger for farm stables, award of L2 for best stone or iron stack pillars with framework, L1 for best iron hurdles for cattle fence, L1 for best iron netting for sheep fence.

These manufactures include not only implements and machines but also sundries that helped the farmer and agriculturist to undertake their work. Metal was key for the manufacture for fences, wire work, stable work and architectural fittings. 

The association of the name Young and meatal sundries in Edinburgh continued into the twentieth century with the name of Robert Young Ltd, ironmongers and iron merchants, 192, 194 and 198 Morrison Street, Edinburgh; warehouse Dewar Place Land. The company was incorporated on 20 June 1910 and a special resolution to voluntarily wind up the company was passed on 18 August 1931. The company was an iron merchant, retail ironmonger and wholesale ironmonger as well as a seed merchant. The business had its roots back to at least 1874 through Robert Young, 15 Morrison Street, Edinburgh.


Smithfield Show in 1868

In recent weeks we have posted accounts of the Scottish exhibitors at the Smithfield Show. Detailed accounts of the implement department were included in the Scottish regional press and the farming press, including the North British Agriculturist. These accounts note the most important exhibitors and exhibits. These accounts can tell us a lot about the trends in the development of agricultural machines and machines, including new developments, fashions and the major makers.

The 1860s were a period of expansion in the agricultural implement trades. A number of new makers were emerging. One of the main trends was the development and increased use of steam power and the application of steam power to agriculture. 

All of these trends can be seen in an account of the Smithfield show in December 1868 published in the North British Agriculturist. The account includes only English makers – which says a lot about the absence of Scottish makers at the show and the interests of the reporter:

“The machinery and implements of the Smithfield Club Show of 1868
Within the last few years agriculturists have bestowed increasing attention on improved implements and machines. This has stimulated mechanical invention, and a number of new articles have been brought before the public. Farmers are now prepared to expend larger sums than they have hitherto done in the purchase of improved machines and implements. In the interest alike of the manufacturer and the farmer, it is important that implements, especially of the more novel and costly description, should be carefully tested in regard to their adaptation for the work required of them. Besides their efficiency, durability is also an important question. This is now better understood by manufacturers. The substitution of iron for wood, and more recently of steel for iron in the working parts of many machines, us an evidence of this. Attention is further being bestowed on the relative strength of the several parts of the implement. Unnecessary complications are being got rid of: Direct action of the motive power is being secured. Implement makers as well as agriculturists understand better than heretofore the defects and difficulties which various machines have to overcome. Impossibilities are accordingly less frequently attempted. A fair chance and suitable conditions are secured for the successful working of the implements of the farm. Farmers and their labourers further exercise more skill and practical knowledge in the use of their more valuable machinery than was available even a few years ago, and this fact greatly enhances not only the utility but the durability of such machinery. In this direction further progress is necessary, especially in keeping all machines, whether for cutting, crushing, bruising, or other purposes, thoroughly clean, perfectly bright, and their working parts properly lubricated. 

No new implements or machines are exhibited on the present occasion, but there are many improvements on those in general use. We miss from the gallery the ingenious gas-engine which last year created so much attention, but we learn that it is coming into use in London and elsewhere. Those who expected to see an application of heated air as a motive power were disappointed. At Islington we also missed the interesting apparatus in which the diamond is made to perform the rude duty of dressing mill-stones. 

The heavy implements are crowded underneath the galleries, where space and light are alike scant, and a careful methodical examination of the various articles scarcely possible. Messrs Roby & Co., Lincoln, have a good display of engines of various powers and descriptions, an improved straw elevator, and thrashing machines. Richard Garrett and Sons, Sandringham, have a numerous and varied assortment of corn and seed drills, hoes, field rollers, corn-dressing machines, portable engines, with combined finishing and dressing thrashing apparatus. Messrs Hornsby & Sons, Grantham, besides portable thrashing machines and engines, exhibit many varieties of reaping, mowing, and combined reaping and mowing machines, with ploughs, root-pulpers, &c. John Fowler & Co., send from Leeds engines of different capabilities, from ten to fourteen horse power, their six horse furrow balance plough, and their giant cultivator, capable of overtaking eighty acres a-day. In preparation for winter, it is still, with some people, a desideratum that the steam ploughs should be adapted so as to cut a narrower furrow, which will stand up at a more acute angle than lie down flat, as too much of the steam ploughing is apt to do, To effect this change, some arrangement might surely be made to fit, if required, one or two additional plough shares into the balance frame. The six-furrow plough exhibited appears better adapted for light and comparatively level soils than for heavy clay or high ridged lands. Messrs Fowler also manufacture and exhibit Pirie’s double-furrow adjusting plough, which has created much attention in the north, which has received a highland Society’s prize, and which is described by practical farmers who have used it as strong, well-made, and capable, in a free-working soil, of turning over with a pair of horses two acres of land in ten hours. For ordinary soils three horses abreast are, however, required. Charles Burrell, of Thetford, has a strong and powerful traction engine, and a patent clover-dressing machine. Messrs Clayton, Shuttleworth & Co., exhibit their celebrated portable engines and thrashing machines. Of the former 8700 have been sent out, and of the latter upwards of 7800. 

Messrs James & Frederick Howard have a large stand, on which are arranged steam cultivating apparatus, engines, horse-ploughs of various sorts and sizes, harrows, and haymakers, with mowing and reaping machines. The Beverley iron and Waggon Company have an extensive display of the numerous articles which they send out, namely, clod-crushers, field rollers. Mowing and reaping machines, one horse carts, manure distributing carts, bone mills &c. The articles appear to be carefully constructed of well-selected sound materials. Messrs E. R. & F. Turner, Ipswich, enter good portable engines, corn and grinding mills, with various admirable machines for preparing food for stock. Aveling & Porter send from Rochester their traction engines of the same useful stamp which rendered much essential service in moving heavy goods on the trial yards at Leicester. Messrs Ransomes & Sims, Ipswich, besides portable engines, have a varied assortment of ploughs, with turnip and chaff cutters. Messrs Marshall & Sons, Gainsborough, are reputed to send out first-class portable engines and thrashing machines, of which they enter several well got up specimens. Messrs Croskill and Sons, Beverley, although an old firm, continue to make advance with the most youthful and enterprising, and enter carts and waggons, clod crushers, and a 3 horse Bell’s reaper. 

In the galleries, the lighter and more portable articles are placed. The arrangements are better than on any previous occasion, but the extra space obtained by the enlargement of the galleries is entirely filled up; and when crowds of people throng the more popular stands, the necessity for more room is very apparent. As at all such agricultural gatherings, the seedsmen claim a large share of space, and make an elegant and imposing display of seeds, roots, and specimens of grasses. 
No implements are more required in this country than efficient mowing and reaping machines, and from the number of stands on which these are exhibition, it may be inferred that the demand for such machines is rapidly increasing. Burgess & Key, London, have an extensive collection. One of these is the prize reaper of the Paris International Exhibition. Walter A. Wood, London, displays mowing and reaping machines, at moderate prizes. John G. Rollins, London Bridge, shows Johnson’s American combined mower and self-raking reaper, manufactured at Syracuse, US. The rake us rotary, and runs on irregular raised cams; the implement is well thought of by those who have used it in America; but it is not at present made sufficiently strong to cope successfully with strong British corn crops. On Rollin’s stand are also shown numerous horse-rakes, forks, and other ingenious machines of American manufacture. Messrs Samuelson & Co., Banbury, exhibit their several sizes of mowers and reapers, many of which have found their way into the very north of Scotland, and commend themselves for their simplicity, lightness, and durability. At Messrs Hornsby’s and various other stands specimens of mowers and reapers of different construction and price are to be found, most of them already familiar to those of our readers interested in this department of farm implements. 

Robert Roby, of Bury St Edmonds, sends his celebrated screens and separators, and his haymakers and horse-rakes Picksley, Sims, and Co., hailing from Leigh, Lancashire, forward a large collection of food-preparing machines. From Maldon the Messrs Bentall also send chaff-cutters, root-pulpers, and corn bruisers. Churns are exhibited by many excellent makers. Galvanised netting, iron hurdles, stable fittings, feeding troughs, and other such appliances are set forth in endless variety by a host of manufacturers. 

Manufacturers and exhibitors appear to have been tolerably well satisfied with the orders and business which they obtained during their week in London. From county agents, especially, numerous orders are being taken, showing that salesmen and agents are becoming more and more the medium the manufacturer and the farmer.”

An interesting account which sets out some key trends in agricultural implements and machines, especially steam powered ones. 

The photographs were taken at the Great Northern Steam Fair, Beamish, 2017.


The A to Z of Scottish agricultural implement makers

W is for …

Walker & Templeton, 43 Portland Street, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire 
D. M. Wallace & Sons Ltd, agricultural engineers and millwrights, Kelso 
John Wallace & Son Ltd, Railway Bridge, Townhead, Ayr 
John Wallace & Sons Ltd, agricultural engineers and implement makers, Graham Square; works and head office, Paton Street, Dennistoun, Glasgow 
J. & R. Wallace, Foundry, Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire 
Thomas Wallace & Sons (threshing machines and turnip cutters &c), Station Garage and 16 Bridgegate, Peebles 
Watson Brothers (reapers, turnip drills, field rollers and harrows), Banff Foundry, Banff 
Alex Webster (ploughs and harrows), Pluscarden, Elgin 
Charles Weir, agricultural engineer, Strathaven, 451 Gallowgate, Glasgow and Kilmarnock (est 1632) 
George Whitecross, 7 Reid Street, Banff, Banffshire 
David Williamson & Sons, Cample Bridge, Thornhill, Dumfriesshire 
Alex Wilson (Aberdeen) Ltd, engineers, Ashgrove Road Engineering Works, Ashgrove Road, Aberdeen 
C. F. Wilson & Co., agricultural implement makers, 88 College Street, Aberdeen 
David Wilson, implement maker, East Linton, East Lothian 
Thomas Wilson, agricultural implement maker, Chapelton, Lanarkshire 
William Wilson & Son (Crosshouse) Ltd, Plann Saw Mills, Crosshouse, Ayrshire 
Wright Brothers (Boyne Mills) Ltd, Boyne Mills, Portsoy, Aberdeenshire

We have some really big names under W. 

Most notable are members of the Wallace Family of Glasgow and Ayr. The family were key players in the development of the company. In 1896 they included James Wallace, William Wallace, Robert Wallace, John Wallace, William B Wallace, and John F. Wallace. They included notable figures in the implement and machinery trade, as well as the wider community in Glasgow. The Scottish Farmer highlighted some the qualities of William Wallace in an obituary on May 18, 1912. It reads:

The Wallace family were key players in the development of the company. In 1896 they included James Wallace, William Wallace, Robert Wallace, John Wallace, William B Wallace, and John F. Wallace. They included notable figures in the implement and machinery trade, as well as the wider community in Glasgow. The Scottish Farmer highlighted some the qualities of William Wallace in an obituary on May 18, 1912. It reads:

“While this is important in recording the great William Wallace’s achievements, it also provides a good deal of information about his role within the wider public life of Glasgow, and the important contribution that he made to it. It also sets out some of the wider history of the eminent firm of John Wallace & Sons, and the wider role of the family within Scottish and world agriculture.

“Mr William Wallace, J.P.
Throughout the agricultural world there will be abiding sorrow at the tidings of ex-Bailie William Wallace, managing director of the well-known firm of John Wallace & Sons (Ltd), implement makers and agents, Glasgow. Mr Wallace was for many months a sufferer, and he might have said that he had suffered many things of physicians, and had been little the better. He passed away on Monday, 13th inst., in his own home, 5 Oakley Terrace, Dennistoun, Glasgow, aged sixty-five.

Mr Wallace belonged to an old Ayrshire family, hailing from the parish of Fenwick. He was born in Dalkeith while his father was foreman in Mushatt’s Foundry in that town. Subsequently Mr John Wallace removed to Mill of Haldane, in Kilmaronock parish, Dumbartonshire. There he kept the local “smiddy”, and developed that skill in handling agricultural machinery and implements which eventually went to the establishing of the reputation of his firm as one of the foremost in that trade. At Mill of Haldane Mr William Wallace and his elder brother, Mr James, who predeceased him, were brought up, and made their first acquaintance with their future trade in the country “smiddy”. About half a century ago the family removed to Glasgow, and James and William joined their father in founding the firm that has long been in the front. Mr James Wallace devoted himself more to the mechanical side of the business, and was therefore not so well known publicly as his brother. Mr William Wallace for many years was the representative of the firm at all the principal shows, and in many of the chief market towns. He was a first-rate business man, a good salesman, with a fine commercial instinct, and honourable and straightforward to a degree. Possibly there was in broad Scotland no better known or more widely respected member of the implement trade. A life member of the principal agricultural societies, he frequently was chosen as the spokesman of his trade when arranging details with these institutions. He also devoted much time and attention to the work of the Glasgow Agricultural Society, of which he was for various terms a director.

In 1902 Mr Wallace entered the Glasgow Town Council, and soon won a foremost place in its committees. He was not fond of public speaking, but when occasion required he could give quite a good account of himself at the Council board. His best work, however, was done in committee, and so highly were his qualities esteemed that after a comparatively short probation he found his way to the bench. As a magistrate, Bailie Wallace shone. He was essentially a man of kindly disposition, and aimed at being just. On the bench these qualities had full play, and he was held in much esteem as one of the best of the citizen magistrates. Identified throughout his life with the total abstinence movement, his experiences as a magistrate confirmed him more and more in the belief that the liquor traffic was prejudicial to the best interests of society. If possible, his total abstinence principles became more pronounced as he advanced in years, and in connection with that matter he was well known to be one of the temperance stalwarts in the licensing bench. He was a representative of the Town Council on the governing bodies of the West of Scotland Agricultural College and the Glasgow Veterinary College, and he also devoted much attention to the affairs of the Scottish Labour Colony.

Altogether, Bailie Wallace spent a worthy, noble life, working for the good of his fellow-men, and in business relationships securing the cordial goodwill of customers and competitors. He was universally recognised as a “white man”, one who played the game, and never feared either to express his opinions or to act up to them. He is survived by Mrs Wallace, who was in all points a most worthy helpmeet, and their family of four sons and one daughter. Two of the sons-Messrs John F. and Duncan-are in the form of John Wallace & Sons (Ltd); one-Mr Wm B. Wallace, formerly farmed at Broomhouse, Corstorphine, and is now farming in Surrey; and the fourth is in South Africa. To Mrs Wallace and her family we tender our respectful sympathy. The funeral, which was private, took place on Thursday to Janefield Cemetary, Glasgow.”

The name of John Wallace & Sons is a well-known and long established one among the Scottish agricultural implement and machine makers. 

The company was already trading in Glasgow in 1865, from Graham Square. Graham Square was to form the address of the company until the late 1960s. By 1894 it had premises at 7, 9, 10 and from 28 to 38 Graham Square. By 1905 there were also branches at Ayr, Cupar, and Stirling; in 1913 they were recorded as Ayr, Perth, Cupar and Lanark.

The company was a forward looking on: it became a company limited by guarantee in December 1896; it changed its form a number of times during its history. It started to exhibit at the Highland Show in 1867, and attended shows in each of the different show districts, demonstrating its wish to be a company known throughout Scotland. The Highland and Agricultural Society awarded it numerous awards for its manufactures including a medium silver medal for collection (1870, 1875). It also won a number of awards at the Society’s prestigious implement trials, including third prize of £5 for potato digger in 1881, and equal award (with 3 others) for potato digger or lifter in 1911. It also entered a number of the Society’s trials including its trial of mowers in 1882, trial of binders in 1893, turnip lifters in 1895, swathe turners in 1905, potato diggers or lifters in 1909, potato diggers or lifters in 1911, and potato planters in 1914. The company regularly advertised in the Scottish agricultural press from 1864 onwards.

A key episode in the history of the business took place in December 1896 with the formation of the limited company of John Wallace & Sons Ltd. Its certificate of incorporation was dated 13 December.
The company’s memorandum of association provides insights into the newly formed company and how it was to operate:

“The objects for which the company are established are:
(a) to acquire the business carried on in Glasgow and elsewhere under the name or style of John Wallace & Sons, agricultural engineers and implement makers, Graham Square, Glasgow, and to purchase and undertake the whole of the assets and liabilities of such business upon the terms set forth in an agreement between the said John Wallace & Sons on the one part and James Colquhoun LLD, writer, Glasgow, as trustee for this company, on the second part, dated the twenty-sixth day of December, 1896.
(b) to carry on business as agricultural and general engineers, millwrights and implement makers, and ironmongers, in Glasgow and elsewhere, and to make, buy, sell, produce, alter, and deal in agricultural implements of every kind and description, and generally to carry on any business of a character similar or analogous thereto, or which will contribute to or facilitate the same, or which, by the advance or increase of knowledge or exigencies of labour, may be substituted therefor.
(c) to manufacture and sell, either by wholesale or retail, every description of goods connected with the agricultural industry of the country, and for that purpose to acquire suitable premises, either by building or purchasing the same, and to lease or buy, sell or exchange, land, or land and buildings, free from or subject to any feh-duty, ground, annual rent, tax, reservations of mines and minerals, or any restrictions, conditions, and agreements whatsoever, or subject to any bond, mortgage, or charge or other encumbrance. …”
The capital of the company was to be £40,000, divided into 8,000 shares of £5 each. The first directors were James Wallace, agricultural implement maker, and William Wallace, agricultural implement maker, both of Glasgow.

In this form the company continued until 1920. On 16 July 1920 the company passed a special resolution to wind up the company; this resolution was confirmed on 2 August 1920. Thereafter, the company took on another form, using the same name.
In the early 1940s the company had a business that extended throughout the major agricultural districts of Scotland. In 1942 an advert in the Scottish Farmer noted that the Glasgow based company (at Dennistoun) had branches at Perth, Aberfeldy, Edinburgh, Cupar, Laurencekirk, Wishaw, Carlisle, Oldham and Welwyn Garden City. By 1947 the company was listed as being at Glasgow and Welwyn Garden City and as having branches at Perth, Aberfeldy, Edinburgh, Cupar, Laurencekirk, Wishaw, Dumfries, Carlisle and Oldham. In 1952 the company’s branches were at Perth, Cupar, Stirling and Laurencekirk.

There were changes in how the company presented itself and how it was structured. There were a number of companies set up under the Wallace name.

By 1961 the company had changed its name to John Wallace & Sons (Agricultural Engineers, Glasgow) Ltd. It was to become John Wallace Agricultural Machinery Ltd after its incorporated on 23 November 1965 (and dissolved on 5 December 1973). An advert in the Farming News on 14 May 1965 noted that “John Wallace & Sons (A. E. G.) Ltd announce that the name of the company has been changed to John Wallace (Agricultural Machinery) Ltd, and are now operating from their new headquarters at Shell Park, Stirling. As previously announced spare parts enquiries are to be made to John Wallace Spares Division, Alloway Road, Maybole.

In addition, John Wallace Engineering Ltd was incorporated on 10 July 1964 (and dissolved on 30 December 1975). Further, John Wallace Farm Equipment Ltd was incorporated on 3 February 1965 (and dissolved on 30 December 1975). John Wallace Farm Equipment East Limited was incorporated as Thomas Sherriff & Company Ltd on 23 September 1941. Its parent company There was also a John Wallace Chemicals Ltd.

By the late 1960s John Wallace (Engineering ) Ltd was a holding company with 8 directors, and 2 shareholders, whose principal activity was the investment in and management of companies engaged in general engineering. In 1967 the subsidiary companies included Polarcold Ltd, Associated Metal Works Glasgow Ltd, Crawford Machinery Co. Ltd, John Wallace Mechanical Handling Ltd, Trucks & Pallets Scotland Ltd. All was not, however, well on the trading side by late 1968. In its annual return for October 1968 the company had a trading loss of £45,000. From 1 April 1969 the company was no longer trading; it was under a patent company, Stenhouse Holdings Ltd, which was incorporated in Scotland. By 1973 this had become Stenhouse Industries Ltd. Wallace was dissolved by notice in the Edinburgh Gazette on 30 December 1975.

John Wallace Farm Equipment Ltd, with a registered office at Shell Park, Stirling, and then at St Vincent Street, Glasgow, had a number of wholly owned subsidiaries. These were A. Baird & Sons Ltd, Alexander Jack & Sons Ltd, Thomas Sherriff & Co. Ltd, and Praills Hereford Ltd. By 1968 the first three of these were dormant companies. by 1971 the company was no longer trading. It too was also under the ultimate holding company of Stenhouse Holdings Ltd.

John Wallace Farm Equipment East discontinued its business activities in January 1967 and by 31 March 1969 its assets had been substantially realised. It was also under the holding company of Stenhouse Holdings Ltd.

By the second half of the 1960s the companies faced tough trading conditions – like the other Scottish implement and machine makers. A good many of them went under, including leading names like that of Wallace of Glasgow. Its company records show an interesting connections between companies as well as different business models and types of management.

By 1904 John Wallace & Co., had a premises at Ayr, at the Agricultural Implement Works, Railway Works, at Townhead. This Ayrshire branch was later to become a company in its own right under the name of John Wallace & Sons (Ayr) Ltd which continued in business until at least 1967; it was not dissolved until 30 August 1985. Its company limited by guarantee status came in 1949.

By 1934 the company had a number of premises in Ayr, and not only at Townhead Works. There were further ones at Smith Street and Station Bridge. In 1928 it had opened premises at Kilmarnock, at West Langlands Street. In 1944 it also had a premises at Stranraer.

In 1938 the company was known for its reapers, mowers and double drillers and manure sowers. It held a number of agencies. In 1942 they included John Deere and Caterpillar. Three years later they included Massey-Harris, Bamfords, Wallace, Oliver, David Brown, Ransomes and R. A. Lister. 1966 these included Ford and Ransomes.

C. & J. Weir, was a partnership known in the town of Strathaven, in 1882. By 1885 that partnership had dissolved and Charles Weir announced his business as millwright and engineer in the North British Agriculturist, the national Scottish agricultural newspaper. Two years later he gave his address as the agricultural implement works, Strathaven. Charles Weir of Strathaven was a name that became well known in the west of Scotland – it had a Glasgow depot from 1906 – and beyond until 1973. From 1934 the company became a company limited by guarantee, as Charles Weir Ltd.

The Weir family went much further back than 1882. In 1925 Charles Weir announced in the Scottish Farmer that it had been established since 1632 – quite an engineering heritage. By 1885 the company descibed itself as a millwright and engineer. These were two trades that were at the heart of the company’s skills and activities for decades. In 1936, for example, trade directories record the company as an agricultural engineer, an agricultural implement maker and agent, an agricultural implement manufacturer, and millwright. By 1955 another one describes the company as also a dairy appliance manufacturer.

While the company was old established, it did not promote its manufactures at the Highland Show until 1912, and only thereafter sporadically until 1958. The most frequent decade for its attendance was the 1930s. From 1914 it was also a regular advertiser in the Scottish Farmer.

The company’s stand at the Highland Show in 1912 provides an insight into its activities: its manufactures as well as its agencies. It exhibited:
– threshing mills, with comb drum, extra long crank shakers, riddle and sieve in motion;
oil or petrol engine driving threshing mill or churn;
– churn, 65 gallons, streamlet churn for power;
– churn, 25 gallons, streamlet churn for hand power;
– Weir’s patent rick lifter for hand power;
– Weir’s new patent rick lifter for hand or horse power;
– chain pump for liquid manure, sample to lift 10 feet (any size supplied to order);
– horse hoe or scarifier, extra long, with improved side stays;
– cheese press, double cheese press, new improved, with cut screws and brass nuts;
– curd mill, new improved, with malleable grating;
– meat cooler, 100 gallon, galvanised with malleable wheels;
– fodder barrow, large size, galvanised with malleable wheels;
– drill roller, notched drill roller;
– barn fanners, with 4 riddles and sand sieve;
– sack barrow, sack truck or barrow, varnished;
land roller, 6 ft wide by 33 inch diameter and steel covered;
– new patented, “Orwell” cultivator, 7 tines;
– “Albion” grinding mill;
– “Albion” chaff cutter for hand or power;
– weighing machine, sack weighing machine with weights;
– “New Century” latest improved binder;
– Wood’s famed non-frame mower, right or left hand;
– Wood’s new admiral mower;
– reaping attachments for above mowers;
– hay tedder, all steel, strong make;
– hay rake, all steel, strong make;
– Walter A Wood’s spring tooth harrows, with patent adjusting clip, 15 tines;
– garden seat, wood sparred and varnished, with malleable supports.

The list includes wide variety of manufactures. But it is also a range specifically for a predominantly livestock and dairying district: churns, as well as haymaking machinery, andmachiens for processing grains for animal food.
The company was also embracing the latest implements and machines from reputable companies such as Walter A. Wood, from the States and also England, as well as Harrison, McGregor of Leigh. His own manufactures, apart from the threshing machines, would have been relatively easy to manufacture.

Farmers and other agriculturists in north-east Scotland would have been well-aware of the renowned firm of G. W. Murray & Co., of the Banff Foundry, until it gave up business in 1897.

The Banff Foundry was not to remain empty for any length of time after G. W, Murray gave up business. By 1898 Watson Brothers had started business in it. In its first year of business it advertised itself as “Watson Brothers (successors to G. W. Murray & Co.) Banff Foundry.”

The Banff Foundry was not to remain empty for any length of time after G. W, Murray gave up business. By 1898 Watson Brothers had started business in it. In its first year of business it advertised itself as “Watson Brothers (successors to G. W. Murray & Co.) Banff Foundry.” 

The company had a number of trades: an agricultural implement maker, iron founder, iron merchant, marine engineer, mechanical engineer, and pump maker. Its main lines of manufacturers were reapers, turnip drills, field rollers and harrows. It extended its manufacture of corn bruisers in 1904 after purchasing the entire stock of corn bruiser patterns from Dalgetty Brothers, Aberdeen.

In 1909 the brothers were reported in the local Aberdeen Daily Journal to have “had a rather busy spring, and the demand for their standard implements, such as broadcast grain sowers, rollers, turnip drills, and horse hoes has been well maintained. In regard to harvest machinery the demand for the Milwaukee blunders was in excess of all previous years, while the Victory, which has been fitted with an improved cutting bar, has given an excellent account of itself. The export department has been particularly busy, the shipments to Rhodesia and Africa generally having been almost double those of the previous year. The iron punching and shearing machines for the use of small engineers have been going off in quite large numbers. During the year six new drifters were fitted out with engines, and although there has been a lull in this department, a good few orders have been booked, the work to be carried out during the forthcoming spring. The firm’s moulding shop has been reproofed, and the fitting shop has been extended to the full extent of the available ground, which will permit of traction engines being taken under cover. A travelling crane is another of the improvements which is to be carried out at the works, and will enable heavy castings to be moved about with ease.” (30 December 1909),

As well as making its own implements, it also acted as an agent. In 1908 they included Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies of Ipswich and in 1911 International Harvester Co. of Great Britain Ltd, London.

Its main area of business was in the north-east. Indeed, at the Highland Show it only exhibited at largely the Aberdeen and Inverness shows. It attended the 1898 show at Kelso, its first year of business.
Watson Brothers continued to occupy the Banff Foundry until 1924 when William Watson died.


Scottish implements at Smithfield in 1886

December was an important time for some of the Scottish implement and machine makers. It was time for the Smithfield Show. This was one of the key shows in the agricultural calendar. New implements and machines were launched there and key makers exhibited their wares, bringing them to a wider audience. 

While English implement and machine makers predominated in the implement department, there were a few Scottish makers. They included some of the key makers.

The 1880s was a period of depression in Scottish and British agriculture. There were fewer acreages under cultivation, and less demand for agricultural implements and machines. It was also a difficult trading period for the implement makers. Despite these difficulties, a number of Scottish makers continued to exhibit at Smithfield. The North British Agriculturist provides an instructive account of the Smithfield Show and the Scottish agricultural implement and machine makers at it. It is worth quoting at length:

“Notwithstanding the present depressed condition of agriculture, the implement, seed, manure, and stock food exhibitors still continue to appear in full and representative force at Smithfield. Every available inch of space in the ground floor surrounding the stock, and the whole of the capacious galleries, are fully occupied by those who cater for the needs of farmers and agriculturists. As regards the machinery, we have several improvements and additions-labour savings and otherwise-to report on the manufactures of many of the best known machines; but these are chiefly alterations of minute parts, as of recent years mechanical appliances for farm work have been brought to a very high state of perfection, and the room for improvement grows yearly smaller and smaller. 

Scotch exhibitors
Messrs J. D. Allan & Sons, of Culthill Implement Works, Dunkeld, we find in their usual position in the gallery, exhibiting their potato digger, a machine which combines all the good points an implement for digging potatoes should have. For durability, compactness, perfect action, and lightness of draught, it still retains the foremost position which has been allotted to it at most of the trials of this class of machine which have been held in this country. Its merits are too well known to need further comment. Messrs Allan inform us that this season their trade in diggers has somewhat improved. 

Mr Thomas Hunter, Maybole, exhibited his patent double drill, scarifier, an implement that is coming very rapidly into repute for cleaning turnip drills, &c; and also his Dickson’s patent double drill turnip cleaner, one of Mr Hunter’s specialities which has had an unusually large sale. He is also showing his patent topping and tailing machine, an implement which has been much in request this season owing to the good crop of turnips. This machine saves both time and labour in lifting the turnip crop. 
Messrs Alex Jack & Sons, of Maybole, exhibited samples of their well-known mowers and reapers, including a newly-improved “Caledonian buckeye” combined reaper and mower, and which has a very light appearance, combined with simplicity of arrangement. The whole gearing is completely covered. The cog-wheels (of which there are four) are arranged in the body of the machine, any they have also the additional protection of being carried upon extra high wheels, affording ample clearance from the ground. By a new improvement upon the ratchets of driving wheels, the stroke of the connecting rod acts upon the knife almost instantaneously, giving the machine an important advantage in starting easily in the face of a thick grass crop. Steel and malleable iron are chiefly used in the construction of this machine. Messrs Jack & Son also exhibited sample of their improved potato digger, which, like their reapers and mowers, has the gearing perfectly enclosed. Messrs Jack report having had an extra large demand for reapers and mowers and potato diggers during the past season.

Messrs G. W. Murray & Co., Banff, held their usual central stand, and appeared to command good attraction. Nothing specially now has been brought out by this firm this year further than little improvements in details of their potato planting machine, turnip and mangel sower, and “Victory” knife sharpener. The speciality on this stand, brought out at the Highland Society’s Show in Aberdeen in 1885, was desigmated the stubble scarifier and old lea renovator. This implement only requires to be known to command attention, particularly for old grass and gentlemen’s policies. It is fitted up with strong coulters, and cuts open the old grass in ruts about 3 inches apart, when a little manure and fresh grass seeds can be sown and harrowed over with a special set of harrows designed to follow the machine, and the result is a find flush of grass. This cannot fail to command attention where it is inadvisable to take a regular course of cropping. 

Messrs Ben Reid & Co., Aberdeen occupied a prominent stand in the gallery, and showed, amongst their several specialities, specimens of their corn broadcast sowing machine, which, we believe, is holding its own position in the market for this kind of implement. We understand that, notwithstanding the depressed state of agricultural matters, there is still a considerable demand for these machines from all parts of the world. We also noticed their patent artificial manure distributor, which has gained many honours at trials in Scotland, notably at the Highland Society’s competition at Stirling in 1881, at the Border Union Society’s trials at Kelso in 1883, at Highland Centenary trials at Edinburgh in 1884, and last, but not least, at the recent Lochvale trails of the Highland Society last October, which were fully reported in our columns. Messrs Reid also show a new type of corn drill, whereby the machine is made much lighter than formerly, thereby reducing the draught, and still maintaining the old characteristics of uniformity in depositing the seed, for which the manufacturers enjoy so good a reputation. We may also mention their “Simplex” pump, as adapted for urine tanks and water carts, which is one of the handiest appliances for lifting liquids of any description. 

Mr Thomas Scott, South Woodend, Bonnybridge, exhibited the “Economist” plough, with reversible point and wing. The point is firmly fixed by a hook and bolt, so that there is no fear in getting loose and coming off. The wheel is protected from straws, &c, by very ingenious sand caps on either side, so there is little risk of its getting clogged. We observe that the wheel has also been covered with wood; this is to prevent clods catching the spokes and impending the progress of the plough, which, thus fitted, will go through a food deep of soil without injury to the implement.

Messrs John Wallace & Sons, Graham Square, Glasgow, showed at their stand, No. 93, fine types of the “Oliver” plow. One pattern is a new patent steel one for all kinds of stubble work or cross ploughing. Another and very useful kind is the long handle chilled plow, which has all the advantages, and works in a similar manner to the short “Oliver” one, bit has long instead of short handles, and therefore can be turned or raised over a stone or any obstruction like a common swing plough. In several districts these implements are being used for lea and all kinds of ploughing. The beams are from instead of wood, and fitted with common Scotch muzzle for altering “land” and depth. All the wearing parts and genuine “Oliver” chilled, a sufficient guarantee that they will wear and scour well. Another kind is their 40X double wheel plow, the speciality of which is that it has double front wheels to suit those districts where double wheels are preferred to single ones. The greatest novelty, however, of the “Oliver” plow shown this year is the “Combination” plow, so called because of its having both the point and share reversible. When the point has worn blunt, all the ploughman has got to do is to tip the plough over on the mould-board side, and by grasping a small lever in the rear of the mould-board, he, with the other hand, simply reverses the point, and then releasing the lever, it is again securely fixed. Not only is the point reversible, but also the wing, so that as long as the parts will wear, the ploughman can always have a sharp edge on the underside, and all this without the assistance of a blacksmith.”


The A to Z of Scottish agricultural implement makers

T is for …

James Taylor (ploughs), Gowan Avenue, Falkirk, Stirlingshire 
J. & A. Taylor, engineers, millwrights and boilermakers, Townhead Works, Ayr 
Thomas M. Taylor (ploughs and harrows), Lossie Wynd, Elgin, Morayshire 
John Tennant, Edinvillie and Rinnachat, Aberlour, Banffshire 
The Thistle Mechanical Milking Machine Co. Ltd, 25 Gateside Street, Glasgow
Alexander Thompson & Son, 7 Castle Street, Dumfries (1901)
George Thomson (hay rakes), Springfield, Clarkston, Airdrie 
William Thomson, smith and implement makers, Trades Lane, Coupar Angus, Perthshire 
A. B. M. Tulloch, dairy utensils and mac hinery, 126 Adelphi Street, Glasgow 
Tullos Ltd, agricultural machinery makers, Greenwell Road, Tullos, Nigg 
James Turnbull & Sons, Dunmore, Airth, Larbert, Stirlingshire 
Thomas Turnbull & Son (broadcast sowing machines), Pleasance, Annan Road, Dumfries 

We have a few interesting companies under the letter t.

One of the old agricultural implement and machine makers was J. & A. Taylor, engineers, millwrights, and boilermakers, Townhead Works, Ayr, which continued in business until the First World War. It was already operating as a millwright and engineer in 1847 when it advertised its manufactures in the North British Agriculturist. By the 1870s it was to increase its trades to include agricultural implement maker, boilermaker, engineer and millwright, mechanical engineer, millwright, steam boiler maker, and steam engine boiler manufacturer. It only advertised at one Highland Show, that of Glasgow in 1850.

Thomas Turnbull, Castlebank, Dumfries, was a name associated with south-west Scotland from at least the 1880s onwards. Its premises were known as the Castlebank Implement Works by 1893 and then as the Pleasance Implement Works from 1899. It was an agricultural implement maker, an engineer, ironfounder, mechanical engineer and millwright. It was also an agent. In 1886 it held agencies for some of the most renowned names – Harrison, McGregor & Co., Leigh, Lancashire, Alexander Jack & Sons, Maybole, W. N. Nicholson & Son, Newark On Trent, A. Pollock, Mauchline. In 1910 these included Harrison, McGregor & Co. Ltd, Leigh, Lancashire, Henry Bamford & Sons, Uttoxeter, Richmond & Chandler.

The company was a regular attender at the Highland Show when it visited the show districts in the south of Scotland, though it ventured as far as Aberdeen in 1885. It was awarded a medium silver medal for its collection in 1870. In 1889 it entered an implement for the trial of hay and straw trusser portable for hand power. In 1899 it entered an implement for the trail of manure distributors.

Thomas Turnbull, Castlebank, Dumfries, was a name associated with south-west Scotland from at least the 1880s onwards. Its premises were known as the Castlebank Implement Works by 1893 and then as the Pleasance Implement Works from 1899. It was an agricultural implement maker, an engineer, ironfounder, mechanical engineer and millwright. It was also an agent. In 1886 it held agencies for some of the most renowned names – Harrison, McGregor & Co., Leigh, Lancashire, Alexander Jack & Sons, Maybole, W. N. Nicholson & Son, Newark On Trent, A. Pollock, Mauchline. In 1910 these included Harrison, McGregor & Co. Ltd, Leigh, Lancashire, Henry Bamford & Sons, Uttoxeter, Richmond & Chandler. 

The company was a regular attender at the Highland Show when it visited the show districts in the south of Scotland, though it ventured as far as Aberdeen in 1885. It was awarded a medium silver medal for its collection in 1870. In 1889 it entered an implement for the trial of hay and straw trusser portable for hand power. In 1899 it entered an implement for the trail of manure distributors. 

The name of Turnbull continued into the early 1930s. Then it was recorded as an agricultural implement maker, and millwright.

One of the big names in the dairy world in the mid 1890s was The Thistle Mechanical Milking Machine Co. Ltd, 25 Gateside Street, Glasgow. It was incorporated on 18 July 1895. However, it did not continue to trade for long. The directors made and passed a special resolution to voluntarily wind up company on 19 April 1898. Why mention this company? It won a silver medal for its patent milking machine from the Royal Agricultural Society of England. It was one of the very few Scottish companies to achieve a silver medal from this society. 

Tullos Ltd, Aberdeen, is a name that may be familiar to some of our readers. Tullos Ltd was incorporated on 22 March 1946.It continued in business until 1956. On 8 June 1956 its directors made and passed a special resolution to voluntarily wind up the company. The final winding up meeting was held on 18 February 1957. In 1948 Scottish Agricultural Industries Ltd sold the Tullos factory.

This agricultural implement maker and agent was an innovative company. In 1950 it won a silver medal for a grass conserver at the Royal Highland Show of 1950. In addition, it also entered a number of implements into the new implement award of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. These implements were its ‘Tullos’ semi-direct power drive mower, invented and made by exhibitors in 1948. Its ‘Tullos’ wilmo tractor transporter fertilizer distributor, invented by Nillemoes Skive, Denmark, and made by exhibitors, also in 1948. It entered its ‘Goodall’ grain conserver, invented by C. Goodall of C. Goodall & Sons Ltd, 19 Station Street, Burton on Trent, and made by exhibitors. A further implement, the Clark sacklift, invented by John Clark, and made by exhibitors, was entered in 1951.