It’s James A. Cuthbertson’s (Cubby’s) 75th birthday.

Many of our readers will be familiar with the name of James A. Cuthbertson of Biggar (@James A Cuthbertson Ltd). Today Cubby’s make snow ploughs, spreaders and a range of other equipment for winter conditions But the name of Cuthbertson was also associated with innovative agricultural engineering through for example its Water Buffalo, draining ploughs and machines and its bracken cutter. 

The Biggar & Upper Clydesdale Museum is celebrating Cubby’s 75th birthday with an exhibition on the company, highlighting its development and the extraordinary man behind it. This free exhibition runs from 11 December to 27 March. Further information at:

The company stated to trade in 1936 under the name James A. Cuthbertson, Biggar. It became a limited company in 1946 . In 1937 the company described itself as agricultural engineers. By 1946 it was also a general engineer, and in 1948 agricultural engineers and contractors. An advert in the Farming News on 15 December 1946 provides clues to the early specialities of the company. It described itself as “pioneers in mechanised draining”. The development and production of draining machinery and accessories was to become intimately associated with the Cuthbertson name.

In 1948 the company entered a drainage plough for the new implement award of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. It was awarded a silver medal for it. The company described the plough as thus:

“The plough will cut open drains to a maximum depth of twenty-two inches by a maximum width of thirty inches, at speeds varying from fifteen to thirty chains per hour, according to the nature of the ground, The plough consists of a simple sided mouldboard mounted at the rearward end of a box-girder beam, the whole being carried on a transport frame when not in operation and stabilised by a hinged sliding shaft whilst working. Beam and transport assembly are hinged about a steel rocker-pin, thus allowing the depth of the drain cut to be automatically controlled, irrespective of local undulations on the ground surface over which the transport wheels pass. Two steel cutter discs are pivotally mounted on the rocker-shaft, which is attached to the forward end of the beam, and a system of semi-elliptic springing allows the discs to rid over any obstruction and return to the pre-determined depth required. A hinged drawbar mounted at the extreme front of the beam gives a rough adjustment for depth control and has incorporated in it a shearing pin device which prevents damage to the implement should an immovable obstruction be encountered. The beam and components assembled thereon are raised into the carrying position by means of a steel cable, which should be operated by a suitable power winch mounted on the tractor. 

A spring-loaded catch is automatically engaged when the beam assembly has been raised to sufficient height and can be disengaged by the tractor driver without leaving the driving position. Any pre-determined depth of cut within the limits of the plough may be obtained by tilting the mouldboard by means of an adjusting screw situated at the extreme rear of the implement. This has the effect of altering the angle at which the share enters the soil in relation to the line of traction and so varying the depth of cut obtained. The spoil discharged by the mouldboard from the drain is removed a distance of one foot six inches back from the side of the drain by means of an adjustable, articulated pusher-blade which is mounted to the rear of the mouldboard.”

Another silver medal was to come for the company’s deep drainage plough with tile laying attachment in 1950:

“The Cuthbertson deep draining machine is designed to be hauled behind a heavy crawler tractor of 70hp to cut a drain up to a depth of 3ft, with a bottom width of 8in and a top width of 2ft 4in at the maximum depth, and to lay the tiles in perfect position, close and in line. The drain section is left ready to be covered in after the operation. The speed of the operation is 22 yards per minute.

The machine is a mild steel, electrically welded fabrication, except for the cutting share and wearing heel, which are of chilled cast steel. The machine consists primarily of a beam, transport frame and wheel, side and centre spring-loaded cutting discs, and a mould board tso shaped that it lifts the soil from the drain and deposits it on one side of the drain.

The tile laying attachment is attached directly behind the mouldboard, and the tiles are fed into this by hand from a trailer travelling alongside. The weight of the tiles being constantly fed into the attachment keeps the end butted closely together.
Automatic depth control is incorporated in the machine, as without this factor it would not be possible to lay the tiles directly behind the machine, as the bottom of the drain would require to be levelled by hand. The bottom of the drain is in “V” formation to facilitate the centralising of all sizes of tiles in the drain.
The machine is lifted from the working position to the carrying position on the frame by means by means of a wire rope connected to a winch on the tractor. The wire rope is not in use when the plough is actually working, as the wheels can rise and fall, following the undulations of the ground, without altering the level of the drain being cut.”

The company also invented a number of other key machines for reclamation and forestry work. They included a bracken cutter (which won a silver medal from the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland in 1949), a grass land rejuvenator and lime spreader in 1948, a double purpose forestry planting plough, double furrow, in 1949, and a lime spreading outfit in 1951. The company was also well known for the “Cuthbertson” half track for Fordson Major conversion, in 1951. It also invented and made the “Cuthbertson” trailer track in 1952.

The photos were taken outside the Biggar & Upper Clydesdale Museum on the opening day of the exhibition, 11 December.


Steam threshing in Fife and Kinross in the mid 1850s

By the mid nineteenth century when Scotland was being intensively mapped by the Ordnance Survey, its surveyors were out and about on the land, visiting farms and other settlements, recording the names of every building and feature. In their accounts a number of them referred to the presence of thrashing mills as part of the farm steadings.

The OS name books record that in the county of Fife there were a number of steam threshing machines erected at the farm steadings. These include: 

Lochran, Cleish – A good farm house and steading including a thrashing mill worked by steam, and an excellent farm of arable land attached. Occupier Mr Tod, proprietor Mr Patrick Adam esq. 
Skeddoway, Dysart – A first class farm house having extensive and well constructed offices with a steam thrashing mill attached. 
Cuttlehill, Aberdour – A near country mansion delightfully situated on an eminence, commanding an extensive view. It is well sheltered with young plantings which are tastefully laid. A little north of the house are extensive out offices, a threshing mill (worked by steam) and [?] works. In the front of the mansion, or a little south, is a small wooded lawn, on the north west side of it a fruit and vegetable garden. The property of the heir of the late Robert Wemyss. Occupier Mr Burns, late factor of the estate. 
Carskurdo – This is a large farm steading with cottars houses. The thrashing mill driven by steam power. It is occupied by Mr David Yool, Blebo Mills, Dura Den, and the proprietor is Mr Gullane, Dunfermline. 
Nydie, St Andrews – This is a very large farm steading with dwelling house and garden. The thrashing machine is driven by steam power. The tenant is Mr Robert Walker and the proprietor is Captain Robert Bethune of Blebo. 

Blebo Mains, Kemback – This is a large and very convenient farm steading with dwelling house and garden. The thrashing machines is driven by steam. The farm is occupied by Mr Walker and the proprietor is Alexander Beaton esq, Blebo. 
Newbigging, Ceres – This is a large farm steading with dwelling house of two stories and small garden. The thrashing mill is driven by steam. The whole of the farm buildings are of recent erection, and occupied by Mr John Walker. The proprietor is J. A. Thomson esq of Charleton. Pittillock, Arngask – An excellent farm house with commodious outbuildings, and a steam thrashing mill attached. Occupied by Mr Clark. 
Rires – A large farm house and office houses all in good repair with steam power. Thrashing mill in good working order attached to these. Is a large farm of ground, the property of Mr James Sith (farmer). 
Dalniel Den – A large and well built farm house and office houses with a steam power thrashing mill all in good repair the property of General Lindsay of Balcarres & occupied by Mr Bogie, farmer. 

Letham, Scoonie – A farm house two stories with suitable offices and a farm of arable land containing about 400 acres attached. There is a thrashing machine propelled by steam power on the premises, the whole held under a lease of 19 years from George Simpson esq, Pitcorthie by Mr James Swan. 
Sunnybraes, Largo – A farm house two stories high with suitable offices and a farm of land containing upwards of 200 acres attached. There is a thrashing machine propelled by steam power on the premises and held under a lease of 19 years from the Standard Life Assurance Co. by Mr James Forgan. 
Kirkland Farm, Wemyss – A good farm house and offices with about 138 Scotch acres attached. There is a thrashing machine on the premises propelled by a steam engine of 5 horse power. It is the property of Admiral Wemyss of Wemyss Castle and occupied by Mr Andrew Lawrie. 
Cavelstone, Kinross – An excellent farm house with extensive outbuildings and steam threshing mill attached about a mile south of Kinross.


Steam threshing in West Lothian in the late 1850s

By the mid nineteenth century when Scotland was being intensively mapped by the Ordnance Survey, its surveyors were out and about on the land, visiting farms and other settlements, recording the names of every building and feature. In their accounts a number of the surveyors refer to the presence of thrashing mills as part of the farm steadings.

Their evidence can be used to gain a better idea of the distribution and presence of steam (and water driven) threshing machines at farms. Some parts of Scotland had numerous steam threshing machines erected at the farm steadings. 

In West Lothian, these were largely found in the coastal parishes such as Abercorn, Dalmeny, as well as Kirkliston and Linlithgow. The OS name book entries are interesting for the information they reveal about the farms on which they were erected, the state of the farm steadings, information on the owner, and sometimes the size of the farm. In a few cases there is some information about the actual mill, including its size and horse power. For example, at Easter Dalmeny, Dalmeny the mill was “very fine portable one of eight horse power”. 

The following are the farms on which steam threshing mills were found in West Lothian, according to the OS name books: 

Wester Duntarvie, Abercorn – this is a large farm steading with dwelling house of two storeys and garden; the thrashing machine is driven by steam. Mr James Bartholemew, farmer, is the tenant and the Earl of Hopetoun is the proprietor. 
Echline, Dalmeny – A good dwelling house two stories high and slates, with extensive farm offices, and a thrashing mill worked by steam, attached-also a row of cottages occupied by hinds. There is a good garden, and a lathe arable farm also attached. It is the property of James Dundas esq of Dundas Castle. And in the occupation of George Thomson. 
Easter Dalmeny, Dalmeny – A large farmstead consisting of an excellent swelling house two stories high & slated. Attached to it are extensive outbuildings with a thrashing mill worked by steam, the engine is a very fine portable one of eight horse power. There is a small portion of ornamental ground & garden attached to the dwelling. The farm consists of 230 acres & is the property of Lord Roseberry. 
Westfield, Dalmeny – A good farm house with suitable offices including thrashing mill worked by steam power, also a row of cottages occupied by farm servants, a garden and a good arable farm attached. Occupied by Mr Stevenson. The property of James Dundas esq of Dundas Castle. 

Dolphington, Dalmeny – This is a very large farm steading with dwelling house and garden occupied by the foreman. The thrashing mill is driven by steam. The present tenant is Mr Buchan distiller, Kirkliston. Hope Vere esq is the proprietor. 
Niddry Mains, Kirkliston-A good dwelling house two stories high in good repair and slated with an extensive farm steading- a thrashing mill worked by steam – a garden and a large arable farm attached, the property of the Earl of Hopetoun – and in the occupation of Andrew Millar. 
Humbie, Kirkliston – This is a very large farm steading with thrashing machine driven by stream. The dwelling house is two stories high, to the north of which is the garden. Mr J. Dudgeon is tenant and the Earl of Hopetoun proprietor. 
Niddrie, Kirkliston – This is a large farm steading with dwelling house and garden and thrashing machine driven by steam. Messrs J. & G. Young, Edinburgh, are the tenants, and the proprietor is the Earl of Hopetoun. 
Wheatlands, Kirkliston – This is a very large farm steading with thrashing machine driven by steam. The dwelling house is of two stories, and there is a garden. The present tenant is Mr Dickson and the proprietor is Mr Hutchson, Carlowrie Castle. 
Boghall, Linlithgow – A very fine farmstead, south of Springfield Chemical Works, consisting of cattle sheds, barns &c and having a thrashing mill worked by steam – two small dwellings form part of the steading & are occupied by a labourer & the overlooker of the farm. It is the property and is farmed by Mr William Wilkie, Ormiston Hill. 

Gateside, Linlithgow – A large and commodious dwelling house two storeys high, in good repair and slated, with extensive farm offices, including a thrashing mill worked by steam and three rows of cottages of an inferior description attached. It is the property of the Earl of Hopetoun and in the occupation of Mr W. Wilson. 
Oatridge, Linlithgow – A good dwelling house two storeys high and slated with a court of farm offices including a thrashing mill worked by steam, a good garden and an extensive arable farm attached and is part of the Binny Estate. 
Blackfaulds – This name applies to a large and commodious farm house or mansion house two storeys high with suitable offices including thrashing machine propelled by steam power all in good repair. There is a large harden attached, with a good farm of arable land. The property & residence of William Blackhall esqr. 

Gowanbank, Torphichen – A large and commodious farm house, three storeys high, with suitable offices, and a thrashing machine, propelled by steam, all in very excellent repair. There is a large garden, a small portion of ornamental ground, and about a hundred acres of arable land attached. Proprietor and occupier Mr Gowan. 
Stankards, Uphall – A large farmstead. The dwelling house is only one storey high and slated with a. garden in rear. The outbuildings are large & extensive, having a thrashing mill attached, worked by steam; the whole is in. good repair – the occupier is Mr James Ford holding a farm of 196 acres Scotch. It is the property of the Earl of Buchan, Amondell.

The photos were taken at the Aberdeenshire Farming Museum, August 2018.


The Lower Deeside Champion ploughing match in the 1930s

From the mid nineteenth century a number of champion ploughing matches were held in Scotland. These were especially noted in the north-east. They were open to ploughmen who had won awards at earlier matches – hence the matches were matches of champions pitting their skills against one another.

By the early 1900s some of these matches were large affairs and were well-attended. The Lower Deeside Champion Ploughing Match was set up in 1910 and continued for a number of decades. It was a large match, with competitors sometimes coming from far afield to compete against well-known ploughmen, to produce high-quality ploughing. Accounts of the match were usually printed in the Aberdeen Press and Journal. 

Accounts from the mid 1930s show what the match was like, how it was organised, classes, the prizewinners and other details (such as weather conditions). 

The 1934 match (Aberdeen press and journal, 5 February 1934) 
The twenty-fourth annual champion ploughing match of Lower Deeside was held on West Cults Farm on a field granted by Mr James Burnett on Saturday. There were forty-eight competitors, some coming from as far north as Forres and as far south as Fordoun. 
Favoured with the best of weather and with a field of all-round equal texture of the most favourable kind, the match proved one of the best in the history of Lower Deeside. So equally good was all the ploughing that the judges had patiently to wait for the finishing until they could make their decisions. 
The judges were Messrs J. Allan, Begsley, Kinaldie; John Bennett, Highmuir, Raynel abnd Robert Logie, Ardlaw, Fraserburgh. The committee, with Mr Joseph Monro, Upper Balfour, Durris, as chairman; Mr Charles Miller, the new secretary; and Mr F. T. Gardner as treasurer had all the arrangements in smooth-going order.
The prizes were handed out by Mrs Burnett, and before issuing the results the chairman called for votes of thanks to the judges, the secretary, and Mrs Burnett.
The well-known ploughman, A. Taylor, Clayfords, Strichen, carried off the champion silver cup, presented by Mr William D. Findlay, Northern Hotel, Kittybrewster. 
In the evening, judges, committee, and friends were entertained at West Cults Fram by Mr and Mrs Burnett. Toasts to judges, Mr Burnett for his field, and to the secretary and chairman and Mr and Mrs Burnett were pledged as well as some extra toasts.
The following is the prize-list- 1. A. Taylor, Clayfords, Strichen; 2. J, Thomson, Drumallochie, Glenkindle; 3. Reid, Knapsleask, Slains, Ellon; 4. A Stuart, Pinkins, Fyvie; 5. J. Thomson, Muirton Cottage, Lossiemouth; 6. Shepherd, Wardford, Coull, Tarland; 7. W. Gray, Earlseat, Hatton; 8. G. Shand, Foresterhill, Oldmeldrum; 9. W. Mowat, Dams of Craigie, whitecairns; 10. G. Beattie, Market Stance, Stoneywood; 11. Moir, Moy Farm, Forres; 12. A. Mitchell, West Cults Farm, Cults; 13. A. Grieve, Silverburn, Countesswells; 14. McIrvine, Mains of Rothmaise, Inch; 15. A. Watt, Moss-side, Countesswells; 16. W. Gilbert, Breda, Alford; 17. T. Fraser, South Ardiffery, Hatton; 18. J. Duncan, North Mains, Auchenhove, Lumphanan; 19. W. Beverley, Haughton Arms, Alford; 20. A. Taylor, Doonies, Nigg; 21. R. Allan, Finnerey, Echt; 22. Hay, Longleys, Crimond, Lonmay; 23. W. Gilbert, Moss-side, Fetternear, Inverurie; 24. W. Barclay, Cowford, Ord, Banff; 25. J. Gilbert, Braeside, Cusalmond; 26. J. Lamb, Roadside, Whitecairns; 27. Rennie, Borrowstone, Countesswells.
Feering – 1. A. Taylor, 2. W. Mowat
Finish – 1. R. Allan; 2. T. Fraser
Feering and finish – A. Taylor. Straightest furrows- Reid, Knapsleask. Oldest ploughman-W. Beverley. 

The 1935 match (Aberdeen press and journal, 18 February 1835)
Stocial powers of endurance were displayed by the competitors at the annual Deeside champion ploughing match, which was held in a field on the farm of Mill of Wester Coull, near Aboyne, on Saturday.
Throughout the day steady rain, lashed by a bitterly cold wind, chilled the thirty-eight competitors through and through, but they stuck to their task and, despite the conditions, some splendid ploughing was witnessed by the handful of spectators who had the courage to brave the elements.
In the vicinity of the officials’ tent the ground was literally a quagmire.
Nevertheless the enthusiasm of officials and competitors was unquenchable and was a tribute to that hardiness and dour determination which have always been characteristic of the Scots worker on the land. Many known “crack” ploughmen competed, and with a good, level field on which to work they turned some remarkably fine rigs.
The championship cup was won by Robert Allan, Echt, who has had numerous successes in competitive ploughing throughout the North-East.
The outstanding feature of the match, however, was the success of Jas. Merchant, Dubston, Finzean, who carried off no fewer than nine prizes, including the ninth prize for actual ploughing. 
At the close of the competition the prizes were presented by Mr C. M. Barclay-Harvey, MP, who was introduced by Mr J. R. McCaw, Douneside. Mr R. R. Anderosn, Milton, Auchinhove, proposed votes of thanks to the judges, the committee, the donor of the field, Mr Wm McConnachie, and the donors of the prizes.
The arrangements were in the capable hands of Mr A. Middleton, East Mains, Aboyne, along with a committee, and Mr and Mrs McCallum, Aberdeen Arms Hotel, were responsible for the catering. 
The judges were-ploughing-Messrs Jas. Allan, Begsley, Kinaldie; Wm Brown, Lauchintilly, Dunecht; and Wm Reid, Kintore Arms. Horse and harness-Jas Burnett, West Cults.

The prize winners were:- 1. Robert Allan, Finnerey, Echt; 2. Wm Grey, Hatton; 3. George Lyon, Kintore; 4. Bert Gilbert, Scotstoun, Insch; 5. John Shand, Foresterhill, Oldmeldrum; 6. Bert Strachan, Echt; 7. H. Duncan, Logie; 8. J. Brown, Kirkton of Forres, Alford; 9. Jas. Merchant, Dubston, Finzean; 10. Wm Beverly, Alford; 11. H. Thompson, Calfward, Leochel Cushnie; 12. John Gilbert, Braeside, Cusalmond; 13. Wm Grassick, Breda, Alford; 14. Jas. Gilbert, Dalhakie, Glassel; 15. George Mowatt, Whitecairns; 16. A. Mitchell, Milton, Murtle; 17. Wm Stewart, Migvie; 18. John McCombie, jun, Davan, Dinnet; 19. A. Malcolm, Goukstile, Finzean; 20. J. Dunn, Brandeen, Craigievar.
Feering – 1. J. Merchant; 2. George Mowatt, Finis – 1. R. Allan; 2. H. Thompson. Feering and finish combined – J. Merchant.
Straightest furrows-W. Gray, North Easterton, Hatton. 
Oldest ploughman- A. Middleton, Aboyne; youngest ploughman- H. Thompson; ploughman with least experience- J. Merchant; ploughman with largest family- 1. John Shand; 2. Wm Gray; ploughman coming longest distance-1. Jas Coutts, Kinloss, Forres; 2. R. Robertson, Foudoun. 
Harness- 1. J. Merchant; 2. A. Irvine, Tarland; 3. G. Robertson, Deerhillock.
Grooming-1. J. Merchant; 2. A. Irvine; 3. G. Robertson.
Decorations- 1. J. Merchant; 2. A. Irvine.
Harness and grooming combined-J. Merchant.
Most points in horse and harness-J. Merchant. 

1936 match (Aberdeen press and journal, 3 February 1936)
The twenty-sixth annual Lower Deeside champion ploughing match, which had to be postponed on account of unsuitable weather, was held on Saturday at Inchgarth Farm, Cults, near Aberdeen. 
The field was granted by Mr George Taylor. The match was late in starting on account of the frost and the committee deferred coming to a decision for an hour. The prospect of a fine day at length prompted them to proceed. The original entries, owing to the unsettled weather, showed a decrease of about a dozen from last year, and numbered twenty-eight.
After having raised their feerings, five competitors retired as it was found that in addition to the surface frost of that morning there still existed a band of the original frost about three inches down in some of the ridges where there was not much foggage.
The committee had salted parts of the field the day before but this had not any effect on the underground frost. Much good work was nevertheless done by those who completed their task in face of the difficulties.
The efforts of Mr C. Reid, Bankhead of Monboddo, Auchenblae, were specially good, He carried off first prize for ploughing, for feering, for finish, and for feering and finish combined. This competitor whilst in Slains was a well-known prize-winner in the Buchan district. The judges were Messrs James Peters, Backhill of Dunecht; George Oliphant, Fingask, Mintlaw, and William Beverley, Haughton Arms, Alford. The arrangements of the committee, in the perplexing circumstances, were well carried out with Mr Joseph Monro, Aberdeen, as chairman; Mr C. Miller, Aberdeen, as secretary, and Mr Alexander Gibson as treasurer. Mr Donald Henderson was time-keeper.

After the contest the judges and committee were entertained at Inchgarth Farm, where the usual toasts were proposed of the judges, lender of field, suppliers of horses, secretary, and all who had helped in making the match a success.
The prize list was- 1. Charles Reid, Bankhead, Monboddo, Auchenblae; 2. William Mowatt, Dams of Craigie, Belhelvie; 3. William Gilbert, Nether Coullie, Kemnay; 4. J. Taylor, Clayfords, Strichen; 5. R. Allan, Finnerey, Echt; 6. Alexander Shepherd, Wardford, Tarland; 7. William Barclay, Cowford, Banff; 8. A. Macaulay, Upper Balblair, Midmar; 9. G. Lyon, Cotton, Kintore’ 10. A. Gray, North Easterton, Hatton; 11. John Shand, Mains of Portlethen, P{ortlethen; 12, B. Strachan, South Kirkton, Echt; 13. A. Stewart, Pinkins, Fyvie; 14. J. Youngson, Skilmafilly, Auchingatt; 15. A. Taylor, Downies, Nigg. Feering-1. C. Reid, 2. William Mowatt; finish-1. C. Reid, 2. William Gilbert; feering and finish combined-C. Reid; straightest furrows-A. Macaulay; oldest ploughman-A. Shepherd.

The photos were taken at BA Stores, May 2019.


A new premises for Ben Reid & Co., Aberdeen

In 1890 Ben Reid & Co., Aberdeen, opened a new premises in Aberdeen to enable it to grow its business and to undertake its work more efficiently and effectively. The North British Agriculturist sent one of its journalists to visit the new factory. It is worth quoting at length for the amount of information it provides on the company and its activities:

“We had the pleasure of recently inspecting the famous Bon Accord Implement Works of the Messrs Ben Reid & Co., Aberdeen. This well-known firm, whose enterprise and excellence of workmanship have made the Bon Accord implements known and highly prized not only in this country, but wherever there are crops to be sown and harvests to be reaped, has for many years consisted solely of two gentlemen-Mr William Anderson and Mr Robert Garvie. The former gentleman is invariably found at the head of the firm’s stand at every agricultural gathering of any consequence in the three kingdoms; while the latter is found with equal regularity at the head of that garrison of industry, where the implements are produced by which the conquests of the firm are year by year extended. Mr William Anderson is the beau ideal of the implement exhibitor, as he is fully equipped not only with the suaviter in modo, but also with the fortiter in re. His naturally genial disposition is mated with a robust confidence in the dignity of his calling, and the very important use which the implement maker renders to the agricultural community. He pushes the sale of his goods on the invulnerable principle of giving good value for a good price; and the cheap-jack who wants to beat down the price, and buy first-class implements at the current rate for scamped work, invariably gets short shrift at his hands. He has always stood boldly out for the exhibitors of implements receiving more generous recognition from the leading agricultural societies than they have hitherto had, and his efforts in this way have been rewarded with considerable success. It is not surprising, therefore, that even his keenest competitors in the same line of business should have united, as one man, to honour him by appointing him president of the Society of Scottish Engineers, a position which he has held for the last three years. His partner, Mr Garvie, is not so well known to the outside public, on account of his sticking so closely to the factory work; but by all who have the pleasure of his acquaintance he is justly esteemed as a high-souled knight of labour, whose ‘scutcheon is graved with numerous honours won on the field of engineering science.

The praise occupied by this firm are splendidly equipped, though by no means so extensive as one would have expected considering the amount of manufactured goods which are turned out every year, and the quantity of timber that has to be stored in order to be thoroughly well dried and seasoned. This apparent deficiency of accommodation, however, is due to the fact that machinery specially designed and specially constructed is here used to a quite unusual extent for the manufacture of the reapers, seed drills, &c. Just as in the latest product of dairy science, the Instantaneous Butte Maker, the new milk us fed in at the one-end and butter-milk come out at the other, or, as in the case of the fabled pig-dressing machines in Chicago, where the pigs are put in at the one end, and the hams, sausages, and bristles done up into brushes come out at the other, so here the wood and steel are fed into the machines and come out, not finished reapers or mowers certainly, but parts which are executed with the nicest mathematical precision, and only require putting together to complete the Bon Accord product. Most of these manufacturing machines, whose use saves time and labour to such an extent, and also ensures that each and every part shall be the exact counterpart of another, have been conceived and produced in the brain of either Mr Anderson or Mr Garvie. The greatest care is taken to ensure that none but wood and steel or iron of the very best quality shall be fed into these manufacturing machines, which, automatically as it were, turn out all the separate parts of the machines produced at the Bon Accord Works. The Bon Accord reapers and mowers, seed drills, and broadcast sowing machines produced by this firm are too well and favourably known to require description outside the Dark Continent. So, too, is their sharpener for reaping-machine blades, which is now justly regarded as an indispensable requisite on every farm. Every scythesman knows how tiresome it is to cut with a blunted blade, but when there was only the old plan of using the file to fall back upon, the ploughman were only too apt, to forget that the cutting with a blunted reaper blade was heavy on the horses as upon the scythesman. By the way, in these days when everything must be brought up to date, it might be a good plan for some enterprising firm like that under notice to bring the Nineteenth Century Art up to date by depicting Old father Time with a self-binder and a chronometer, instead of such out of date appliances as a hook and an hour-glass. 

In addition to the purely agricultural implements by which the firm has become so well known, a large business is also done at the Bon Accord works in the production of garden railings and gates. This branch of the business is also conducted in a most exhaustive way, and all kinds of railings and gates are produced, from the humble railing and wicket that encloses the garden of the cottage villa, up to the costly railing and gorgeous gates that form a fitting off-set for the mansion of the peer. So greatly has this part of the business at the Bon Accord works, that a skilled artist is constantly employed in producing and elaborating designs for such railings and gates. 

The implement works of Messrs Reid & Co., are the only works of the kind in the Granite city. This is not surprising considering the standing which this firm have acquired in the implement trade. At the same time, the north-east of Scotland is far from being a preserve of theirs any more than the rest of the country is. Indeed, it is probable that their constituents are as numerous in any other part of Scotland as they are in Aberdeenshire, and their foreign trade is also a vast as well as a growing one. Altogether, it may be safely said, alike as regards the quantity and quality of the products turned out by this firm, and the unique position which the partners hold in the estimation of the agricultural public, the Bon Accord works are an institution of which the city of Bon Accord may be justly proud.”

An informative account on a great Aberdeen company!


A noted agricultural implement maker – Mr Thomas Bisset of Bisset & Son, Blairgowrie, Perthshire

One of the well known implement and machine makers in Perthshire was J. Bisset & Sons, Marlee, which was set up in 1835. By 1883 it had expanded and set up implement works, Greenbank Works, on the Dunkeld Road, Blairgowrie where it remained into the mid 1960s.

Its early manufactures included reaping machines and tattie diggers. It won awards for its reaping machines – a silver medal for a reaping machine from the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland in 1868; a silver medal for a self-delivery reaper at the Society’s trials in 1873. By the early 1890s it was the only Scottish maker of binders.

One of the early members of the business was Mr Thomas S. Bisset, agricultural engineer at Bisset & Son, Blairgowrie. He died in August 1896. The Dundee advertiser of 29 August 1896 published an extensive obituary, providing information on his role and the wider business. It is worth quoting at length: 

“Death of Mr Thomas S. Bisset, agricultural engineer 
It is with great regret we have to announce the death of Mr Thomas S. Bisset, managing partner of the firm of Messrs Bisset & Son, Greenbank Works, Blairgowrie, which took place at his residence, Galabank, yesterday morning about eight o’clock. Although deceased had been in somewhat indifferent health for some time bank, there was no apparent cause for concern. As a matter of fact, he was attending to ordinary duties no further back than last Friday. On that day, however, he was suddenly taken ill, and his trouble assumed such a serious aspect that his medical attendant, Dr Hood, considered it advisable to call in the services of Dr Thomson, assistant to Professor Annandale, Edinburgh, by whom an operation of great difficulty was performed in a successful manner. The patient was never able to rally, however, and after lingering a few days, expired yesterday morning. He was 57 years of age.

Deceased was a son of the late Mr John Bisset, Balcairn, Marlee, who founded the firm of Bisset & Sons in 1835. Mr Bisset, sen, was a man of decided opinions of his own, and never was reconciled to the heavy iron ploughs which were in vogue so long. He lived long enough to welcome the lightly constructed American wooden ploughs as being more to his ideas. In 1862 the subject of the present notice visited the exhibition in London, and was so much struck with the reaping machines, then not long introduced, which he had seen there, that he returned home fired with the ambition to construct as good, and in the autumn of that year he designed his first self-acting back delivery. The new machine took well, and. A large number of strong plain “Blairgowrie Reapers” were turned out, as well as potato diggers, &c. In 1867 he patented his steel-lined finger for reapers and mowers-an improvement which is now adopted by every maker in the country. In 1878 he constructed the “Scotia” mower and reaper, the first enclosed gearing made in Britain. About nine years ago the firm began the manufacture of self-binders, and their successes everywhere will be fresh in the minds of the agricultural public. In every competitive trial in which they have taken part they have invariably taken a leading position, and the firm is still the only makers of self-binders in Scotland. Besides designing harvest machinery of a variety of types, the improvements he effected on other agricultural implements, such as potato diggers, potato planters, &c, proved him possessed of great constructive ability. He was never done experimenting in order to improve his machines in convenience, lightness of draught, &c, and every season saw a steady advance upon the previous one. 
About 20 years ago, owing to rapidly increasing business, a site at Greenbank was secured, where the present works were erected. Since then they have been extended several times, and it is only this season that new and commodious offices were added. Mr Bisset was a man of great mechanical ingenuity and business push, and showed a great deal of courage and enterprise in carrying on the large concern with which he was connected. He knew the value of being kept continually before the public, advertised well, and never missed having some of his machines at every show of importance.

He was a member for three years of Kinloch School Board, where he succeeded his father. On removing to Blairgowrie he entered the School Board there, and had been a member for nearly six years. He took great interest in educational matters, particularly technical education, the value of which he set very high and believed in greatly as a means for the retention and extension of the commercial prosperity of the country. He was a staunch member of the First Free Church and a sound Liberal. He married a daughter of Mr Gibb, Middle Park, Ashmore, by whom he had seven of a family.
Deceased was a man of perfect probity and trustworthiness, and as such was held in highest esteem by all who came in contact with him. He was a man of few words, and those he used were invariably direct to the point; but he never had the least difficulty in making up his mind on any subject, marking out his own line of duty or action, and proceeding therein with unflinching steadfastness.
There are a few anecdotes which may illustrate the natural mechanical turn of Mr Bisset. As a great reader of engineering papers, he observed in 1868 that bicycles were being constructed in Paris. From illustrations of one, he constructed a very useful machine, upon which he rode a journey of 30 miles soon after. He used to claim that he was the first maker and rider of a bicycle in Britain. The machine is still to be seen. He also made a capital ball-shooting gun for his own use out of horseshoe nails in his 18th year. When about 23 years of age, hearing that McCormack, the American maker of reaping machines, was to start one at Dunkeld for the Duke of Atholl, Mr Bisset, full of enthusiasm, set off to see it. The machine broke down, and, with the Duke and Duchess looking on, McCormack was in a great state of nerves. Young Bisset pushed forward to see what was wrong, and something in his bearing caught the eye of McCormack. “Are you a worker in iron?” asked he. He replied he was. “Can you men that, do you think?” “I think I could”, was the reply. McCormack asked him to do it then, and accordingly Mr Bisset shouldered the broken part of this reaper, and carried it to a smithy at Dunkeld. There he repaired the machine satisfactorily, and assisted the maker in starting it. McCormack complimented him as a clever workman, and gave him a half-sovereign-the first money he ever earned from reapers. 
Mr Bisset was a keen angler and a strong swimmer. In latter years he had little leisure for the outdoor sports he delighted in when a young man. Of an evening then he would think nothing of swimming across Marlee Loch and back again-a feat few, if any, in Blairgowrie could perform. 

Mr Bisset will be greatly missed in the agricultural districts of Central and Eastern Scotland, where he was well known and perfectly trusted. He had gained the thorough confidence of the farming community by his thoroughness and downrightness as a practical engineer and man of business. With a strong liking for a sweetly moving piece of mechanism, he had at the same time a scorn for things that would not stand wear and tear. Few men in his line of business were so quick and shrewd as he in making practical use of floating criticisms in regard to machines. A strong man in mechanical affairs, and knowing his own mind very clearly, he had a swift instinct in catching new ideas. If he had a fault at all it was in being over-eager, and in allowing his own marked individuality to have rather free scope. He was present at the binder trials held near Perth on the 18th of this month, but to some of his more intimate friends on the ground he remarked that he ought to have been at home and in bed. At Perth market yesterday the news of his death was received with great regret by agriculturists in general.”


New threshing mills on farms in Aberdeenshire in the early 1920s

In the 1920s a number of the local newspapers, especially in Aberdeenshire, reported the erection of new threshing mills on a number of farms as farmers up dated their machinery or moved from using the travelling threshing mill to their own ones. 

The erection of this plant was a significant occasion. It marked the introduction of new technology, a substantial investment into the farm and its activities as well as a change in the management of the processing of the grain crop. Farms generally marked this occasion with a social event in which neighbours and others were invited to partake in food and drink, and a congenial evening of activities. They also got to see the new mill at work. The feeding of the first sheaf into the mill was at some farms seen to be an important event. That task was sometimes given to a special member on the farm; it could be a long-standing farm servant or a past tenant. 

The accounts in the newspapers provide varying amounts of information about the new mills. Sometimes they record the names of the maker of the mill and the mode of power for the mill (water, engine or tractor). 

The following are short accounts from newspapers that record the introduction of new threshing mills onto farms in Aberdeenshire: 

New threshing plant at Insch (from Aberdeen press and journal, 3 February 1920) 
Mr James Morrison, Priestwells, Insch, has had installed a new threshing mill, made by Messrs Barclay, Ross, and Hutchison, Aberdeen. The mill is of the latest design, and contains the newest improvements, including a double dresser, carrying a 48ft corn spout to deliver oats into the loft. After a demonstration, the thresher proved entirely satisfactory. It is driven by a Tangyre oil engine of 13 hp. 

New threshing plant at Newmachar (Aberdeen press and journal, 11 February 1920)
On the invitation of Mr Robert Horne, Little Brownhills, Newmachair, a number of his neighbours met on Saturday to witness the trial of a new threshing mill, recently installed by him, and made by Garden Bros., Rothienorman. The mill is of the smallholder type with a high-speed drum. The mill was tried, and gave entire satisfaction. It is driven by a C. F. Wilson oil engine of 5hp. After the demonstration the company were hospitality entertained by Mr and Mrs Horne. 

New threshing plant at Kintore (Aberdeen press and journal, 1 November 1921)
There has been installed at the farm of Woodlands, Kintore, a new threshing mill and oil engine, The mill is one of the latest type, semi-high speed drum, etc, built by Messrs Crichton, Lonmay, and driven by a Petter oil engine. On the invitation of Mr J. J. Ingram, a large company of friends and neighbours assembled on Saturday afternoon to see the mill at work. It gave every satisfaction. The company were afterwards hospitably entertained by Mr and Mrs Ingram. Mr D. R. Brownie, Skene, referred to the enterprise of the new “laird” having fitted up such a plant on his farm, and returned thanks on behalf of the company for the kindness extended to them. 

New threshing plant at Skene (Aberdeen press and journal, 19 November 1921)
On the invitation of Mr John Rose, Westhills Mains, Skene, a number of neighbours and friends witnessed the working of a new threshing mill recently installed at the farm. The mill is 4 feet wide, and fitted with a high-speed drum, barley awner, etc, and driven by a 16 horse power Tangyre with electric start. The grain is elevated over the straw barn to the granary, where it passes through an improved fan which removes all foreign matter. There is also a chaff blast and straw carrier. The whole plant, under a severe test, gave ample satisfaction, and in the opinion of those present left no room for improvement. Afterwards the large company adjourned to the farmhouse, where they were hospitably entertained by Mrs and the Misses Rose. The mill, etc, was supplied by Mr Robert Cormack, millwright, Whitecairns, Aberdeen. 

Threshing mill installed at Rothienorman (Aberdeen press and journal, 20 October 1922)
Mr George Barclay, farmer, North Redhill, Rothienorman, has installed a new threshing mill made by himself. The mill, which is 21 ins wide, has patent shakers, barley awner, and finishing fan, and is driven by an Allan oil engine. The plant was tried on Saturday, and gave every satisfaction. 

Prenmay threshing plant (Aberdeen press and journal, 8 November 1922
Mr Peter Smith, farmer, West Edingarioch, Prenmay, has just installed a new threshing mill, two feet wide, and driven by a 6hp Fernbank’s engine. At the trial threshing the other day it gave entire satisfaction. The mill was made by Mr George Booth, Chapel of Garioch, who also supplied the engine. The machinery and operations were inspected by a number of farmers who assembled to see it start work. 

Torphins threshing plant (Aberdeen press and journal, 23 November 1922)
Mr Colin Cargill, Newton of Tornaveen, has installed a new threshing mill and oil engine into his barn, and the first thresh took place on Saturday, when many friends and neighbours were present. The mill and equipment was supplied and fitted up by Messrs Robert Garvie and Sons, Aberdeen, and all present were impressed with the working and finish of the mill and engine. 
The company was hospitably entertained by Mr and Mrs Cargill. 
Auchterless threshing plant (Aberdeen press and journal, 20 December 1922)
Mr Wilson Mudtown, Pitglassie, Auchterless, has had installed a new threshing mill, 33 inches wide, with high-speed drum, barley awner, two fans, screen, and chaff blast. Power is supplied by water by a bucket wheel, with overhead feed, but an extended shaft will allow of a tractor taking the place of the water when scarce.
At the onset of Monday a company of friends and neighbours was present, and expressed satisfaction with the plant and the work done, from ten to twelve quarters of dressed corn being delivered in an hour.
Mr and Mrs Wilson hospitably entertained the company, and a pleasant social evening was spent. 

New threshing plant at Methlick (Aberdeen press and journal, 3 January 1923)
Mr George Beaton, Cairns, Methlick, has installed a new threshing mill and oil engine, supplied by Mr Taylor, millwright, Tarves, Mr Beaton invited some neighbours and friends on Friday night to see the onset of the mill, which have every satisfaction, dressing the corn ready for market. After the thresh the company were hospitably entertained by Mr and the Misses Beaton. 

Rothienorman threshing machine (Aberdeen press and journal, 18 January 1923)
A new threshing mill and engine has been installed on the farm of Hill of Wells, Rothienorman, by the tenant, Mr Alexander Keillah. The mill was made by Messrs Barclay, Ross, and Hutchison, Aberdeen, and has been fitted with high-speed drum and all modern dressing accessories and improvements. The driving power is supplied by a 6 ½ hp petrol engine from the same firm.
A few friends and neighbours were invited to see the set, and after giving the plant a fair trial satisfaction was expressed with the work. It threshed from 6 to 7 quarters per hour.
Afterwards the company adjourned to the house, where they were hospitably entertained by Mrs Keillah, and a pleasant hour was spent in song and story. 

New Premnay threshing mill (Aberdeen press and journal, 21 August 1923) 
On the invitation of Mr James Sharp, farmer and proprietor, Burryhillock, Premnay, a number of friends and neighbours assembled on Saturday to witness the start of a new threshing plant. The mill has a 36 in high speed-drum, and is fitted with the latest improvements, and gives an output of eight quarters per hour of finely dressed grain. The motive power is a 10 horse power Allan oil engine.
The company was afterwards entertained by Mrs Sharp, when a pleasant evening was spent. 

New threshing plant at Foveran (Aberdeen press and journal, 15 December 1923)
An event which excited interest in the district was the “trial run” on Thursday of a new threshing mill installed by Mr Willox, West Pitmillan, Foveran, Aberdeenshire. Supplied and erected by Messrs Barclay, Ross, and Hutchison, Aberdeen, the plant consists of a high-speed thresher with bagging elevator, and a 5/6 Ruston-Hornsby petrol-paraffin engine. The machinery performed its initial task with splendid speed and efficiency. The company was hospitably entertained by Mr and Mrs Willox. 

Kinellar threshing mill (Aberdeen press and journal, 11 November 1924)
A large company of friends and neighbours gathered at Aquhorsk, Kinellar, on Saturday afternoon on the invitation of Mr and Mrs Duncan Keir. The occasion was the inauguration of a new threshing mill, which Mr Keir has just installed. The mill gave general satisfaction in the demonstration. It threshed eight quarters per hour of well-dressed grain. The company were entertained by Mr and Mrs Keir, and spent an enjoyable evening.


What implements and machines were used on Kincardineshire farms in 1931?

There were a small number of displenishing sales that took place for the Martinmas term in Kindcardineshire in 1931. This was a time of great difficulty in Scottish – and British – agriculture with low prices and sluggish demand for crops. Farmers who came through this time – like my grandfather – never forgot about how difficult they were. The second hand market provided an important place to purchase them, including displenishing sales. 

The three displenishing sales notices in the Aberdeen press and journal in November 1931 show the range of implements and machines used on farms. The range at East Carmont, which appears to have three sets of horses, was modest by comparison to that at West Bogheadly, Rickarton which had a Fordson tractor used alongside horses. It also had implements and machines from key makers including the Scottish one Bisset of Blairgowrie, the English make Bamford, and North American ones – McCormick, Massey Harris and Osborne. Interestingly, it also had 2 peat barrows, 2 peat sledges, and a stone sledge; these are not always recorded in sales.

East Carmont, Dunnottar (13 November 1931) 
“Implements -2 box carts, long carts, spring cart, dog cart, Massey-Harris binder, reaper, mower, hay rake, hay collector, 3 horse grubber, 3 sets harrows, spring tooth harrow, 2 sets chain harrows, 2 drill harrows, metal roller, drill plough, 3 single ploughs, setting-up plough, barn fan, weighing machine and weights, bushel measure, cart and plough harness for 3 horses, set gig harness, potato digger, broadcast machine, 3 portable hen houses, paraffin cabinet, turnip sower, potato boxes, potato baskets, portable boiler, scythes, graips, and all minor utensils.” 

Middleton, Findon, Portleithen (13 November 1931)
“mplements -2 box carts, long cart, water cart, spring cart, dog cart, grubber, 2 spring toothed cultivators, 2 swing ploughs, Don plough, D. B. plough, 2 sets iron harrows, chain harrows, McCormick binder, new Albion mower, horse rake, metal roller, stone roller, broadcast sowing machine, turnip sowing machine, shim, 2 sets cart and plough harness, 2 sets spring cart harness, 2 box barrows, ladders, grindstone, weighing machine and weights, sack barrow, hasher, sculls, drag and hand rakes, cart ropes, barrels, poultry houses, chicken coops, scythes, forks, spades, graips, hoes, forks, brushes, lanterns, yokes and swingletrees, and the usual assortment of minor farm implements.” 

West Bogheadly, Rickarton (13 November 1931)
“Implements -2 box carts with double shelvings, 2 long cart bodies with harvest frame (as new), 2 Osborne and Massey Harris Binders, 1 Bisset Mower, McCormick Horse and drag rake, 2 Sellar MP ploughs, Sellar drill plough, Don plough, Don horse hoe, Don manure distributor, furring-up plough, Don 10 tine spring tooth harrow, chain harrows, 17-tine spring-tooth harrow, cultivator for 3 horses or tractor, 3-horse grubber, 2-horse grubber, 9 tine drag on wheels for tractor, iron harrows, grass seed harrows, 2 metal rollers, broadcast machine, turnip sowing machine, scarifier, Bamford potato digger, potato dressing machine, turnip puller, turnip potato dressing machine, turnip puller, turnip sheep cutter, hay cutter turnip slicer, steelyard and weights, barn fan, sack barrows, sack holder, bushel, 2 box barrows, 2 peat barrows, 2 peat sledges, stone sledge, 3 portable henhouses, chicken coops, yokes and swingletrees, stack bosses, stack props, cattle feeding troughs, corn chest, corn bruiser, 50-gallon paraffin cabinet, grain sacks, plough hurley, bogie wheels, wire strainer, portable boiler, cart and plough harness and all minor utensils. Fordson tractor with transmission brake, belt pulley, and road band (as new). 
The implements are in excellent condition and well worth attention. 
Dairy utensils-Hathaway churn, cheese press, milk basins.”

What can you tell about these farms from their implements?


The opening of Mr Garvie’s Hardgate Agricultural Implement Works, Aberdeen, December 1894

One of the most important makers in Aberdeen and the north-east was Robert Garvie of Hardgate Works, Aberdeen. He opened a new premises in December 1894. The Aberdeen press and journal was pleased to record the opening of the new ironworks. On 1 December it reported:

“It is always a pleasure to note the progress and development of local industry, and it affords us much satisfaction to congratulate Mr Robert G. Garvie on the opening of his new and extensive agricultural implement works in Hardgate. Mr Garvie is a member of a family that has shown a great deal of enterprise in industrial affairs in Aberdeen, and in his new undertaking he will have the heartiest good wishes for success, because success for him means the benefit of his employees and the advantage of the community as a whole. There is no reason why the agricultural implements used by our farmers should not be largely produced at home, where there are the skill, the capital, and the material necessary, and the starting of Mr Garvie’s new works may be accepted as an indication that fewer orders for farm machinery will find their way to Canada and the States. There is nothing narrow or unduly selfish in this view. We are all for home manufacture when it can be had as cheaply, and of as good quality as outside products, and a community that does not act on that principle certainly neglected one of the first considerations of self-preservation. The patriotic desire to promote local interests as a primary duty does not necessarily imply a blind and unreasoning exclusiveness. What we contend for is that where we find local enterprise carrying on a branch of industry giving large employment to labour, and thus contributing to the general prosperity, it has an undoubted claim to the support and encouragement of the locality. This we have no doubt will be the case with Mr Garvie’s new undertaking; but he will also have a wider sphere of operations than the immediate district of Aberdeen. The new works were agreeably inaugurated last night by a pleasant social gathering of the workers and their friends, and Mr Garvie, who presided, referred with justifiable gratification to the fact that within the space of about nine months the fine block of industrial buildings had risen up in the place that had been occupied by a number of old tumble-down dwellings. Thus Aberdeen advances in commerce and industry, and thus may it ever continue to flourish-by the enterprise and skill of its sons.” 

So what were the Hardgate Agricultural Implement Works like? 

“The spacious new works in Hardgate, the property of Mr Robert G. Garvie, agricultural implement manufacturer, have now been completed, and all the departments are in operation, between 80 and 90 men employed. The fact that it has been found necessary to provide an establishment on so large a scale would seem to point to the growing importance of the manufacture of agricultural implements as an industry in the north-east of Scotland. Fully an acre and a half of ground has been taken off in a very convenient site on the south part of Hardgate, and the buildings that have been erected are admirably adapted for their purpose. The frontage to the street is constructed of granite, and has a substantial though plain appearance. The offices &c, are situated here, while the various departments of the manufactory stretch back to the west. The principal entrance is from Hardgate, at the north-east end of the feu. 
There is a wide covered-in gateway, and the passage leads along the northern boundary to a large yard on the extreme west. At the entrance a six-ton steelyard is laid down, the register being taken in a comfortably-appointed forwarding office. A stair leads from this apartment to the suite of offices on the floor above, but before describing these, it is to be noted that, adjoining the forwarding office, and running for 70 feet parallel with the street are a number of stores, from which doors open into the sections of the works occupied by the various classes of employees. From this section access is also found to a large store-room for binders, reapers, and traction engines. The faces are very convenient and well lighted, the windows facing Hardgate. They are four in number. One is occupied by draughtsmen, another by clerks, another is a private room for the use of Mr Garvie, and the remaining room will also be utilised in connection with the commercial department. These rooms are about 21 feet by 15 feet by 10 feet, and are lined with varnished pitchmen. Drawings of various implements relieve the walls; office furniture of a substantial make is provided; an arrangement of speaking tubes is in use; and the gas fittings throughout are of the most modern description. The lobby which connects the rooms is pierced with windows in such a way as to allow an unobstructed view of the whole of the interior of the works. At the south end the carrier opens into the pattern shop, which measures 40 feet by 27 feet by 10 feet and above there is a lumber loft of considerable dimensions. This exhausts the accommodation on the east side. Passing down a stair from the pattern department the visitor finds himself in the section occupied by the staff of joiners. This section is one of three, all of which lie east and west, and each of which measures 140 feet by 45 feet-the ridge springing some 30 feet from the level of the ground, and the eaves 15 feet. The structure is of corrugated iron and glass, and the couples are made of malleable iron, painted in a light blue colour, the framework has a pleasing appearance, and the effect is equally attractive when the place is illuminated by the large number of sun gaslights which have been erected. The joiners’ department is different from the other two in respect that it has a wooden flooring, and in it the machinery is driven from below. This last arrangement is a feature. Roof shafting, when in constant use, causes a vibration which, in course of time, proves very damaging to a building, and to obviate this an ingenious arrangement has been introduced by which the walls and roof are left untouched, the motive power being conveyed from a sunk floor. 

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


New threshing mills erected in farms in the 1930s

The move away from the use of the travelling threshing mill to mills erected at farms continued in the 1930s. Newspapers in some districts of Scotland, especially in the north-east, reported the erection of new mills on farms. These were important occasions on the farms, and were seen as ceremonies at which the farming family and neighbours were invited. While they provide accounts of these ceremonies, they sometimes also recorded information on the mills and how they were powered. 

While some farmers preferred a mill from some of the big makers such as Garvie & Sons, Aberdeen, others favoured local mill makers, some of whom were well-known. They included J. & D. Craig, Waterside of Phesdo, who is recorded in a number of adverts. Some mills were being powered by tractor, though the use of oil engines was common. 

Some accounts of new threshing mills have been included below: 

St Andrews (St Andrews Citizen, 1 November 1930)
Mr Braid, St Nicholas Farm, has set up a new threshing mill at his farm, which is much more serviceable than the travelling mill. The new mill can be worked by four or five men at any convenient time, while the travelling mill necessitated the employment of sixteen or eighteen people. Messrs Garvie & Sons, Aberdeen, supplied the mill. It is driven by a tractor, and housed in a new shed next the granary, and the threshed grain is conveyed direct to the granary. The grain carrier, chaff blast, trusser &c, are of the latest types. 

New thrashing mill at Brechin farm (Brechin advertiser, 9 December 1930)
At Findowrie, Brechin, Mr Barron has had installed a threshing mill of the latest semi-portable type, four feet wide, and fitted with ball bearings and sheaf carriers and straw carrier, also a chaff blast. Messrs J. & D. Craig, Waterside of Phesdo, Laurencekirk, are the manufacturers.
Threshing was carried on for a few hours, and everything worked well. 

Angus. New threshing plant (Dundee courier, 5 January 1933) 
Mr Robertson has had a new threshing mill installed at Fonach, Forfar. It is of the double dressing type, 3ft 6 in wide, and fitted with ball bearing. Messrs J. & D. Craig, Waterside of Phesdo, Laurencekirk, are the manufacturers.
The power is a reconstructed Shanks’ oil engine. When the mill was set in motion Mrs Robertson fed the first sheaf, and thrashing was carried on for a few hours, turning out an ideal sample of grain. 

Knock installation (Aberdeen press and journal, 8 November 1935) 
Messrs Wright Bros., millwrights, Boyne Mills, Portsoy, have installed at the farm of Mains of Raemore, Knock, Rothiemay, occupied by Mr William Adam, farmer, a new threshing mill, with semi high speed drum, driven by a six-horse power Lister Diesel engine. This mill was on view and seen working at the Highland and Agricultural Show at Aberdeen in June. 

New mill installed (Dundee courier, 14 November 1935)
An interesting event has taken place in the Auchterderran district at Powguild Farm. (Mr John Cunningham). 
In presence of a large number of friends and neighbouring farmers a new threshing mill was installed.
A pleasing touch in the ceremony was the part played by Mr David Fair, of Ballinkirk, who was tenant of Powguild 50 years ago. Mr Fair put through the first load.
The new plant, which is driven by electric power, was built by Messrs R. G. Garvie & Sons, Aberdeen, and has a high-speed drum screen and straw and grain convergers.
After the installation Mr and Mrs Cunningham entertained the company.