What was new at the Highland Show ninety years ago?

The 1932 show of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland was held in the Inverness Show District, in Inverness. The Scotsman reported the display of implements and machines in its issue of 21 June 1932. This included the manufactures from the Scottish makers. It is worth quoting at length to show what was available for the agriculturist in 1932 at a time of economic difficulty when mechanisation had been making inroads into agriculture.

“Inverness Highland Show

The highland capital yesterday presented a bustling and animated appearance, the town being crowded with visitors for the Highland and Agricultural Society’s Show, which opens to-day. The hotels are fully occupied, and there has been. Great run on available accommodation in private houses, while large numbers have overflowed to the neighbouring towns. The sky was overcast in the morning; the early part of the day was dull and cool; but in the afternoon the sun shone brightly, and the weather prospects are very promising. Although there is not such an extensive show of implements as at Edinburgh last year, there is an attractive exhibition of all that is useful on the farm. Considering the distance of Inverness from the more important centres of commercial and manufacturing industries in the South, the display is very satisfactory, and is greater than in any previous Inverness Show.

Thoroughly comprehensiveIn the implement yard exhibitors were fully occupied yesterday getting their stands in order, The comprehensive character and number of exhibits comprised in the section well upholds the traditions of the Society. There are 245 stands, with 1926 exhibits representing practically every department of commerce catering for those engaged in the cultivation of land, or in the breeding and feeding of live stock. The yard has been so arranged by Professor Stanfield, M.InstC.E., Edinburgh, the Society’s consulting engineer, and the various kinds of exhibits have been so grouped that the visitor may make a round of inspection in the most convenient and quickest way.

Only four implements were shown at the first Inverness Show in 1831. They were six times that number in 1839, 59 in 1846, 231 in 1856, and 707 in 1865; but they reached four figures in 1874. Nine years later they numbered 1280, and in 1892 they were 1383. Still mounting up, the number was 1463 in 1901, and ten years later 1513. In 1923 the entries were 1778; and on this occasion, as already noted, the total is 1926. The principal Scottish implement makers are represented in the Show, and the leading English firms are also forward. The exhibits demonstrate the perfection to which the agricultural engineer has brought farm machinery, and visitors of a practical mind will find much of interest and instruction in their inspection. All manner of farm implements are embraced within the comprehensive display which is laid out to good advantage on the showground. Manufacturers from many parts of the country are represented in the vast collection, and nothing which is of the least use to the agriculturist in the pursuit of his calling has been overlooked. The display, while it is of the greatest interest to the practical farmer, will also be a source of much attraction to the members of the general purpose.

Sowing and cultivating machinery is to be found in variety on stand no. 87, occupied by J. L. & J. Ballach, Gorgie Implement Works, Edinburgh. Included in the assortment is the patent universal expanding disc drill scarifier, for drills from 18 to 30 inches wide. Fitted with patent hoeing attachments, this machine gained the H. and A. S. silver medal at the 1927 show at Edinburgh. Several specimens of the new champion turnip sower are also forward together with broadcast manure distributors, combined turnip and manufacture sowers, potato sowers, sorters, horse hoes, ball-bearing grinders. Thomas Sherriff & Co., West Barns, Dunbar, are at stand no. 81, with a display of their popular implements. One of these is the combined turnip and beet sower and hoer, which sows four rows on the flat from 18 to 26 inches apart. It was awarded the Society’s silver medal at the Edinburgh Show, 1927. Grain and seed drills, steel frame broadcast seed sowers, drills for peas and beans, land measures, and a new improved land measuring wheel or sheep drains, &c, are also on view.

Tractors and transport

Notable among the motor exhibits are those seen at stand no. 131. There Henry Alexander & Co., Nottingham Place, Edinburgh, have an interesting and varied display, including an agricultural Fordson tractor fitted with a hay mower, a three-furrow Oliver plough, an Elwick cultivator with ridging bodies and Miller non-slip wheels. There is also an Enfield lawn mower, which is claimed to be the cheapest machine of its kind on the market. The Ford 8hp Tudor saloon on view is the new model that is being manufactured at Dagenham, and in which much public interest is being shown. Other exhibits are Ford two-ton and one-ton trucks, a Ford forward control truck capable of carrying two and a half tons, and a Ford forward control three-purpose truck. The Morris Commercial Cars (Ltd), Birmingham, are exhibiting through their local agents, Macrae & Dick (Ltd), at stand no. 135, a wide range of vehicles. Exhibits of special interest to farmers and stockbreeders include a tow-ton farm and estate lorry. It is designed with a loading ramp to carry cattle, or it can be used as an ordinary lorry for general farm work. A three-ton cattle truck, which is also on view, is fitted with an upper deck for carrying sheep or pigs. This deck is removable, and there are low ramps at the rear and sides for loading cattle.

At stand no. 77 William Kinross & Sons, 37 Port Street, Stirling, are displaying a selection of milk lorries, some with iron tyres, and others rubber tyred. The latter type of lorry is being used by an increasing number of dairymen. Spring carts and floats are also shown at this stand.

Dairy outfitters

G. D. L. Swann & Son, dairy engineers and outfitters, 32-36 Abercorn Street, Glasgow, are at stand no. 64, where they display a range of bottle-filling as well as washing machines, varying in capacity from one suiting a dairyman handling 20 gallons a day to one distributing 1000 gallons. The firm fit up dairies for graded milk at the farm or for a town depot. Messrs Swann present a great assortment of bottles, discs, caps, cases, seamless milk cans, delivery barrows, &c. All the goods on view are entirely of British manufacture, while tanks, pails, luggies, carrying cans, &c, are all made in the firm’s Glasgow works. Latest in poultry houses.

Cowiesons (Ltd), 3 Charles Street, St Rollox, Glasgow, are well-known for their poultry houses and appliances, summer houses, tool sheds, and such like structures, specimens of which are displayed at stand no. 178. Their “Caledonia” poultry house is the last word in regard to these houses, and it is proving immensely popular with breeders all over the country. The revolving summer house on view is an attractive structure, of great lasting qualities, and attractively finished. A visit to the stand will prove time well spent, as there is much of interest to be seen. Poultry breeders will find many exhibits of interest at stand no. 176, occupied by G. Sutherland & Sons, Premier Works, Forres, who make a speciality of poultry houses and appliances. The firm also make allotment huts and garden shelters, and a selection of these are also on view. Robert Miller (Denny) (Ltd), Bonnybridge, are showing various models of their make of poultry houses at stand no. 179.”

Do recognise any of the implements and machines or names of their makers?


Macdonald Brothers, Portsoy

One of the names that was well-known in Portsoy, Banffshire and the north-east of Scotland from the. 1870s until well through the twentieth century was the MacDonald Brothers of Lochside Engineering Works, Roseacre Street.

They were already making agricultural implements and machines in 1878. Their early manufactures included harrows and turnip lifters. By 1885 they had started to make back delivery reapers; they continued to make these until the early twentieth century. They had a number of models. In 1890 one of them was the Princess, a one horse self-acting back delivery reaper. Another two from 1894 were the Portsoy self-acting back delivery reaper and the Simplex self-acting back delivery reaper.

The brothers were agricultural implement makers, mechanical engineers, millwrights and smiths. When cars became more common place they became motor engineers. They were a forward-looking business, advertising in the national agricultural press – the North British Agriculturist – and exhibited at the Highland Show from 1879 until at least 1928. They largely exhibited in the Inverness and Aberdeen shows, the area of their largest customer base.

They entered their implements for trails and new implements at the Highland Show. These included a turnip lifter at the trials in 1881. In 1885 they entered ploughs, grubbers and harrows for trial. A decade later they entered a further turnip lifter; in 1899, a further manure distributer. They won £10 first prize for a turnip lifter in 1895. Behind the business were the brothers James and Alexander Macdonald. They died within a few years of one another in 1913 and 1916. Their obituaries provide information on their lives, their business and their activities:

Baillie James Macdonald, Portsoy (died March 1913)The Aberdeen press and journal notes: “Baillie James Macdonald, Portsoy, died early yesterday morning after a brief illness. He had been a well-known figure in the business life of Portsoy for about 35 years, and was a general favourite. In all things pertaining to the good of the town, he took a leading part. In the work of other Boards as well as the Town Council he took a very keen interest. It is now 35 years since he and his brother, Mr Alexander Macdonald, started the firm in Portsoy of Macdonald Bros, engineers and implement makers, which has to-day a wide reputation. Mr Macdonald was a Liberal I politics, and for some years he held office as president of the Banffshire Liberal Association. For many years he was also president of the local association. He was a devoted member of the East U.F. Church, and for a number of years acted as one of the managers.”

Mr Alexander Macdonald, Portsoy (died January 1916) The Aberdeen press and journal note: It will be learned with deep regret that Mr Alexander Macdonald, engineer and agricultural implement maker, died suddenly yesterday at his residence, 22 Durn Road. He has been at work as usual, but was seized with a pain in the back, and thought it advisable to go home. Serious symptoms manifested themselves, and he passed away at half-past one o’clock. Mr Macdonald was well-known throughout a wide circle, especially among agriculturists, and was a general favourite with all classes, and his death will call forth many expressions of deep regret. He took a great interest in all things pertaining to the good of the town and district. For a number of years he has been a member of Fordyce School Board and Fordyce Parish Council, and in all public movements took an intelligent part. It is now 38 years since he and his brother, the late Baillie Macdonald, started business in Portsoy as engineers and implement makers-a business which to-day may be said to have a world wide reputation.

The Aberdeen press and journal, also provided an account of the funeral of Alexander Macdonald: The funeral took place yesterday to Portsoy Cemetery of the late Mr Alex Macdonald, of Messrs Macdonald Brothers, engineers and agricultural implement makers, Portsoy. There was a large attendance of the general public representative of town and district, also many from a distance, deceased having been well known throughout a wide area. The coffin, of polished oak, was covered with a number of beautiful wreaths. The workmen of the firm walked on each side of the hearse; and following the chief mourners came the boys of the senior department of Portsoy School, in charge of Mr Wm Maclean, the headmaster; then the members of Fordyce School Board, Fordyce Parish Council, and Portsoy Town Council, and general public. As a mark of respect, shops were closed and blinds drawn all along the line of route. At the cemetery the remains were carried by the workmen to the side of the grave. The services were conducted by the Rev Wm Browne.

The Princess reaper from 1890 was photographed at the Strathnairn Farmers Association Working Vintage Rally & Display, September 2013.


Norwegian harrows – a legacy on some farms in the mid twentieth century

A really effective new soil pulveriser was introduced into Scotland in the early 1840s. This was the Norwegian harrow. Its function was to reduce large clods into very small ones by means of a number of lines of rays or tines, leaving the land “perfectly light and lose, whilst the clod-crushing roller gives to it firmness and consistence.”.

This implement, on an “entirely novel construction”, was introduced by George Edward Frere, FRS, of Edinburgh, from Norway. He had it constructed, with some changes, by Richard Stratton, Bristol. He entered it for the Royal Agricultural Society Meeting at Shrewsbury in 1845 where the judges awarded to him a premium of 10L for his harrow. By 1858 Norwegian harrows were being made by a number of Scottish implement and machine makers. In that year they included James Kirkwood, Tranent, who sold one at £8 10s, and Peter McGregor & Son, Keith, at £8 15s. Kirkwood became a renowned maker of these harrows, winning a number of premiums for them from the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland.

By 1864 the number of makers of these harrows had increased. They also included: John Barrowman & Co., Saline, Fife, David Young, Hassington, Coldstream, Robert Peddie & Co., 132 George Street, Edinburgh, William Kirkwood, Duddingston Mills, Edinburgh, and Kemp, Murray & Nicholson, Stirling. The one made by that latter maker was described as a “Norwegian harrow, or clod crusher”.

These harrows were still being made into the 1880s. Makers continued to include William Elder, Tweedsmouth Implement Works, Berwick on Tweed, and Kemp & Nicholson, Stirling. After that date there are few references to these harrows.

A number of sets of Norwegian harrows continued to be found at displenishing sales in the mid twentieth century. They appear to have lasted longest in areas such as East Lothian and Perthshire, though their presence at sales does not meant that they were continuing to be used until that late dates.

The farms were leading ones, with large acreages, where potatoes and other root crops were grown. They also had an extensive range of implements and machines, including leading types and makes.

The farms that had Norwegian harrows at their displenishing sales included:

West Fenton, East Lothian (surplus to requirements) (from The Scotsman, 25 January 1939)

6 box carts, 2 long carts, 2 cart frames, “Massey Harris” binder, double driller and manure sower, turnip sowing machine, “Hoosier” grain drill, 3 “Ransome” I.R.D.CV.P 4 M” ploughs, 2 sowing ploughs, 4 drill ploughs, 7 drill grubbers, 2 “Hunter” hoes, “Ransome” planet drill cultivator, “Martin” cultivator, barley brake, 5 sets English harrows, 2 sets spring toothed harrows, Parmitter harrows, 2 Norwegian harrows, heavy “Cambridge” roller, plain roller, “Wallave” mower, horse rake, hay collector, sheep turnip cutter, chaff cutter for power, cake breaker, 2 pumps, 3 iron stack stance &c Also 5 sets cart and plough harness.

Tofthill, Glencarse (from Dundee courier, 7 November 1939)Implements-6 coup carts (2 rubber tyre), 6 corn carts, cattle float, 2 hay bogies, water cart, horse fork, 2 Massey Harris binders, 1 McCormick binder and tractor plough (power drive), 1 mower, 2 hors e rakes, Hoosier driller, McCormick driller, double driller, International manure distributor, Jack manure distributor, Newlands cultivator, 2 turnip barrows, grass seed machine, Cambridge roller, Wallace potato digger, Ransome potato digger, Camno sheep turnip cutter and engine, International tractor, tractor bogey, set 4 tractor harrows, and trees, tractor discer, 2 scarifiers, hay collector, 3 drill grubbers, 3 Hunter hoes, chain harrows, 4 set iron harrows, 2 drag harrows, set circular harrows, Norwegian harrows, 4 horse grubber, 3 ploughs, Oliver plough, 4 furring up ploughs, two bar roller, three bar roller, shafted roller, 2 steelyard and weights, turnip slicers, four wheel barrow, hash barrow, barn trolley, cake breaker, 2 blocks and tackle, 8 cattle troughs, 16 sheep turnip troughs, 35 sheep feeding troughs, sheep feed bin, sheep haik, 2 corn bins, 17 sheep nets, 150 net stakes, 280 potato boxes, 2 saw benches and saws, blacksmith’s forge, iron cutting machine, bench and tools, 30 gallon paraffin tank, oil cabinet, steel barrel, slipe on wheels, barn fanners, cart jack, iron and wooden stathels, cattle bands, sheep dipper, 3 henhouses, hen coops, Acto mower and garden tools, barn, byre, and stable utensils including 4 sets cart and plough harness, odd harness &c. Also a quantity of kitchen furniture and dairy utensils.

Byres, Longniddry (from The Scotsman 1939)

Farm implements – 7 coup carts on wheels, 5 long carts on wheels, 3 long cart bodies, spring van, governess car, 4 “Ransome” ploughs, 2 “Ransome” double furrow ploughs, “Ransome” reversable plough, 3 drill ploughs, rig marker, 6 drill grubbers, 2 “Hunter” hoes, “Finlayson” grubber, 2 barley brakes, 4 sets English harrows, Norwegian harrow, 2 sets drill harrows, set “Parmitter” harrows, 3 metal rollers, Cambridge roller, Cambridge drill roller, 1 drill scarifier, double driller and manure sower, manure distributor, turnip seed sowing machine, grass seed sowing machine, 3 “Massey Harris” binders, 2 reapers, 2 hay collectors, 2 horse rakes, tumbling rake, horse hay fork, triangle rick lifter, “Blackstone” swathe turner, charlock sprayer, stack props, “Eclipse” potato sorter, 200 potato boxes, firetray troughs, set barn weights, cart weighbridge with cattle cage, 2 sets potato weights, set barn fanners, 10 iron stack stathels (16 feet), wheelbarrow, garden roller, garden seat, 2 lawn mowers, tennis posts, 100 egg “Heatson” incubator, 100 egg “ironclaad” incubator, 200 chick “Sawyer” rearer, 4 “Pioneer” hovers, 9 folding houses, 4 chicken runs, 12 hen coops, poultry feeders, scrap iron, graips, forks, spades, shovels, hoes, and other small barn and stable utensils.Also portable “Clayton & Shuttleworth” threshing mill, with “Hornsby” bunder, “Ruston” power hay baler, “Sanderson” tractor, “Martin” tractor cultivator, petrol turnip cutter and a quantity of household furniture.

Over Hailes, Haddington, sale on 25 November 1950 (from The Scotsman, 15 November 1950)

Farm implements- 9 short carts on wheels, 3 long carts on wheels, 4 “Massey Harris” binders (2 with tractor hitch), 3 “Wallace” reapers, 2 “Sherriff” grain drills (one with tractor hitch), ‘Sherriff” grass seed barrow, ‘Sherriff” three drill manure sower, “Sherriff” turnip seed sowing machine, “Wallace” double driller and manure sower, “Massey Harris” manure sower, “Ideal” manure sower, “Ballach” drill scarifier, 2 metal rollers, 3 drill rollers Cambridge heavy roller, 2 horse rakes, 2 hay bogies, horse hay fork, hay collector, 4 “Ransome” ploughs, 4 double moulded ploughs, 3 heavy drill grubbers, “Newlands” cultivator, “Planet junior” cultivator, 2 “Hunter” hoes, “openesl” hoe, 4 sets English harrows, 2 sets saddle harrows, set Parmitter harrows, set grass seed harrows (18 feet), Norwegian harrow, 2 “Blackstone” potato diggers (one with tractor hitch)(, “Cooch” potato dresser with 1 ½ hp “Petter” engine, “Ness” potato dresser, sack lifter, wheelbarrow, 2 sack barrows, straw barrow, 2 sack steelyards and weights, set barn fanners, ladders, steel stack bosses, sheep wire nets, sheep net stobs, 2 sheep turnip cutters, cattle turnip slicer, 15 sheep turnip boxes, sheep cake boxes, galvanised cake bins, flakes, 2 sheep hay hecks on wheels, wire potato baskets, paraffin tanks, water troughs, mells and piercers, endless chain, vice, anvil, henhouse, 2 chicken brooders, graips, forks, shovels, hoes, scythes, and other small barn and stable utensils &c. Tractors and tractor implements2 “Fordson” tractors (one with rubbers), “International H” tractor on rubbers, “Dechmont” trailer, 2 “International” ploughs (2 and 3 furrow), “Ransome Dauntless’ cultivator, “Massey Harris” disc harrows, set spring toothed harrows, “Denny” roller, 2 spare rear rubber tyres. Also 3 sets cart and plough harness, 3 stacks ryegrass hay.

The set of Norwegian harrows was photographed at the Fife Vintage Machinery rally, June 2014.


Fordson tractors at displenishing sales in 1922

In a previous post we looked at the adverts for Fordson tractors in 1922. While these were aimed at farmers purchasing new tractors, there were a number of second-hand ones around. Some of these were available at displenishing sales across the country.

Newspaper articles of displenishing sales that record Fordson tractors being sold reveal what farms Fordson tractors were being used at as well as the range of implements and machines that were being used on them.

Some of the farms such as Clinterty, Bucksburn, Aberdeenshire, had a wide array of implements and machines, also highlighting that they were highly mechanised. Some of them had implements and machines by leading makers. Clinterty had 2 bindings by Deering and McCormick as well as a 3-tined grubber and a double-furrow plough by Sellar. Brownhill, Slains had numerous ones: a McCormick binder, an Albion mower, Massey-Harris drill sower, a Reid & Leys manure distributor, and a Sellar turnip sower. Rumgally, Cupar, had Masset-Harris ploughs, Oliver tractor ploughs, Newlands tractor cultivator, Bisset binder, Bisset mower, Deering mower, Martin cultivator, Kidd potato planter as well as others. They were also leading farms in their districts. Boon, Lauder, Berwickshire, had been tenanted by Dr Shirra Gibb, author of a Farmer’s 50 years in Lauderdale (1927). As well as the Fordson tractor, they were also using a range of implements and machiens for horse power.

The following are the sales notices of the implements on farms that were using Fordson tractors in 1922:

Clinterty, Bucksburn, Aberdeenshire (recorded in Aberdeen press and journal, 4 May 1922)

Implements-4 box carts with tops, wood cart, 2 stone box carts (without wheels), lorry (1-ton), 4 wheeled, 2 binders (Deering and McCormick), mower, Jack, hay collector, 2 metal rollers, stone roller, 2 turnip sowers, 2 sets link harrows, 4 sets iron harrows, 2 spring-toothed harrows, broadcast sowing machine, 2 turnip shims, small drill plough, 2 D.M. ploughs, 3 M.P. ploughs, potato digger, potato harrows, manure distributor, 3-tined grubber (by Sellar), 2-tined grubber, 2 turnip cutters, pulping machine, 2 drag rakes, 3 sets cart and plough harness, odd harness to suit ponies, riding saddle, horse rugs, small collars, chains and sinkers, barn fan, 2 weighing machines and weighs, sack barrows, peat barrows, ladders (all sizes), hoppers, scoops, oil drums, picks, spades, graips, shovels, barrels, water troughs, chicken coops, rabbit hutches, small poultry houses, pig feeding troughs and others, rick stathills, posts and covers, lorry cover, odd lots of wood, yokes and swingletrees, and all the usual minor farm implements. A quantity of dairy utensils, including plump and crank churns, 7 superior large milk basins, spring weighing machine, etc, bothy beds and bedding, 2 poultry houses, 9×10, poultry house, 12×10, hut, 9×12, all in good condition; incubator (100 eggs) complete, double foster mother, in first-class working order (by Miller, Denny), Ford motor waggon (tonner), 1920, in first-class order, if not sold privately, Fordson tractor, almost new, with Sellar double furrow plough and Sellar grubber, 5 tines; also 3 tractor carts (new), complete with tops, with 4 inch tyres, all in first class condition (for farm or road), if mot sold privately.

Home Farm, Clinterty, Bucksburn (recorded in Aberdeen press and journal, 5 May 1922)

All the farm implements, a quantity of dairy utensils, bothy beds and bedding, 2 poultry-houses, 9×10; poultry house, 12×10; house 9×12-all in good condition; incubator (100 eggs), complete; double foster mother, in first-class working order (by Miller, Denny). Also Ford motor waggon (Tonner), 1920, in first-class order; Fordson tractor, almost new, with Sellar double furrow plough and Sellar grubber, 5 tines; and 3 tractor carts (new), complete with tops, with 4in tyres, all in the first-class condition for farm or road, if not sold privately. All as already advertised.

Brownhill, Slains (recorded in Aberdeen press and journal, 5 May 1922)

Fordson tractor, with Magneto in first-class order; 3 box carts, hay cart (extra good), 2 lorries, binder (“McCormick”, in new condition), mower (“Albion”), tractor disc harrow, drill sower (“16 disc Massey-Harris”), broadcast sower, hay collector (“Callwell’s”), turnip sower (“Sellar”), manure distributor (“Reid and Leys”), 2 drill ploughs, 3 single ploughs, double furrow plough, 3-furrow tractor plough, furrowing-up plough, spring tooth harrow, iron harrows (5 sets), chain harrows, 2 grubbers, drag harrows, 2 shims, 3 stone rollers, 2 horse rollers, horse rake, barn fan (“Baker’s”), 4 sets cart and plough harness, set plough harness, set show plough harness, 4 ladders, box harrows, peat barrows, weighing machines and weights, yokes and swingletrees, and all the usual minor farm implements, paraffin tank (100 gallons).Kitchen and dairy utensils and a quantity of household furniture.

Boon, Lauder, Berwickshire (Dr Shirra Gibb) (recorded in The Scotsman, 17 May 1922)Usual implements on a farm of this size including-15 short carts on wheels, 11 long cart bodies, turnip cutting cart (complete), binders, reapers, mowers, ploughs, rollers, grubbers, harrows, cultivators, manure distributor, grass seed barrows, horse rake, potato digger, Bamford (new) potato digger, drag hay collectors, pair of hand or power fanners and all the usual small hand implements and tools, 4 hen houses on wheels and slipes, 16 set of cart and plough harness a quantity of saddlery, riding saddles and bridles; also, a quantity of household furniture, Governess car, and “Mellotte” separator.

Motor tractor and tractor implements – 1 Hallford motor lorry, 4 to 5 tonner, in good order; 1 Fordson tractor, in first-class order, with Magneto Ignition; 2 tractor driver no. 7 ploughs, 1 tractor disc harrow, with long tree for two pairs of harrows; 1 Massey-Harris binder, with pole for tractor.

Rumgally, Cupar, Fife (recorded in Dundee courier, 10 November 1922)

4 Fordson tractors, 2 Wallis tractors, 1 Saunderson tractor, 3 motor lorries (2 and 3 ton), 2 Massey-Harris two and three furrow tractor ploughs, 2 Oliver tractor ploughs (two and three furrows), 6 sets disc tractor harrows, 1 Newlands tractor cultivator, 1 tractor roller (9 feet), 1 Speedo tractor plough, 4 coup carts, 4 sets cart tops, Bisset binder, Bisset mower, Deering mower, Martin cultivator, 2 Planet cultivators, 2 110a ploughs, 2 drill ploughs, swing plough, Wallace double driller, Sellar grass seed machine, 2 rick lifters (complete), 3 rick lifters (trailers), open easy scarifier, drill grubber, show grain driller, Bisset potato digger, Bamford grist mill, Caldwell tumbling rake, manure distributor, potato dresser, sheep haik, 2 sets circular harrows, potato planter (Kidd), wheel barrow, cattle troughs, corn chest, anvil cross cut saw, 2 30-gallon portable boilers, 2 centrifugal pumps, potato hampers, quantity of scrap iron, stack props and bosses, cart and plough harness for 3 ½ pair horses, and the whole barn, stable, and byre utensils.

Ferneyflatt, Kinneff (recorded in Dundee courier, 14 November 1922)

6 box carts, 2 lying carts; “Fordson” tractor, in good order; two furrow Sellar plough, with self-lift; 1 swing; 4 M.P. and 3 drill ploughs; 4 brake iron harrows; grass seed harrows; 2 spring-tooth harrows; chain harrows; Martin cultivator; Sellar grubber; two horse grubber; 3 small grubbers; potato grubber; “McCormick” disc corn drill; coulter corn drill; broadcast sowing machine; “Sellar” manure distributor; turnip sowing machine; scarifier; potato planter; 3 metal rollers; Cambridge roller; 2 hay mowers; 2 horse rakes; 2 hay gatherers; 2 “Massey-Harris” binders; “Bisset” binder; potato digger; turnip puller; turnip slicer; barn fan; 2 steelyards and weights; sack barrow; 2 potato harps; potato dressing boxes; potato boxes, hampers, and riddles; lime sprayer; horse clipping machine; cattle troughs; large boiler; meal girnel; 2 box barrows; grindstone; ladders; stack bosses and props; 2 portable hen houses; “Millar” foster props; 2 portable hen houses; “Millar” foster mother; chicken coops and runs; barrel lubricating oil; barbed wire; scythes, forks, hoes, graips, shovels, picks, mells, rakes, and the usual minor implements; yokes and swingletrees’ cart and plough harness for 5 pairs horses. Note – the implements and horse harrows are all in excellent order, quite a number of the former having been bought new recently.


The last days of a great name: J. D. Allan & Sons, Murthly, Perthshire

Local newspapers can provide a good deal of information about the last days of businesses, including notices of displenishing sales, adverts to take over a business, and news of new owners. The local press in Dundee and Perthshire provided a good deal of information on the last days of one of the great names among the Scottish agricultural and machine makers: J. D. Allan & Sons.

James Douglas Allan, Culthill, Dunkeld, Perthshire, was already in business by 1852. By 1865 he had been joined by his sons, and his business was known as James D. Allan & Sons, Dunkeld. Its premises became known as the Culthill Implement Works in 1884. The business described itself as an implement maker, smith, and farrier. It was especially known for its reaping machines and potato diggers. It was a regular attender at the Royal Highland Show from 1852 onwards. It won awards for a wide range of its implements and machines. In 1861 it won 2 soverigns from the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland for the best two horse plough for general purposes, the best general set of hand implements for the farm. In 1871 it won a silver medal for its collection. This was followed in the next year by a medium silver medal for a potato digger and then a medium silver medal for a self-delivery reaper. In 1904 it was awarded a silver medal for a farmyard manure spreader in drills, and in 1911 along with three other machines it was awarded an equal premium for a potato digger or lifter. It also entered a number of trials.

In 1940 the business was put up for sale. The Dundee courier of 20 September 1940 advertised the business for sale:


Business Cartwright and wheelwright and general engineering business for sale, and to let, small desirable farm with the workshops.

For sale, the old-established business of cartwright an wheelwright and general engineering business of J. D. Allan & Sons, Culthill Implement Works, Murthly, Perthshire.This is an excellent opportunity of acquiring a sound and profitable business. The purchaser will require to take over the whole stock-in-trade, machinery, tools &c, and work in progress at valuation.The business will be let along with the small arable farm of Culthill. The farm extends to 92 acres or thereby, and is in excellent heart and in regular rotation. The purchaser will be required to reside on the farm. There is an excellent farmhouse and three cottages and bothy.Entry and occupation, 28th November 1940.Mr John D. Allan, on receiving two days’ notice, will show inquirers over the works and farm.For conditions of sale of the business and conditions of let of the business premises and farm apply to Messrs Condie Mackenzie & Co., WS, 75 George Street, Perth, or Messrs J. & J. Miller, WS, 10 Blackfriars Street, Perth.”

The displenishing sale was to be held on 26 November, 1940. The following was listed for sale by the Perthshire advertiser in its pages of 23 November 1940:

“Auction sales

Highly important sale of agricultural implement makers’ plant and machinery; diesel-electric lighting set; large stock seasoned home timber etc, including:1410 cub ft seasoned home grown ash, in planks, from 4 ½ in to 1 ½ in thick.1100 cub ft seasoned home grown oak, in planks, from 3 ½ in to 1 ½ in thick.325 cub ft seasoned home grown elm, in planks, from 4 in to 1 ¾ in thick.1450 cub ft seasoned home grown larch, in planks and battens, from 12 in by 3 in to 5 ½ in by 2 ½ in500 cub ft selected seasoned home grown larch, suitable for cart bodies.780 cub ft seasoned home grown larch boards, from 1 ¾ in to 5/8 in thick.270 cub ft seasoned home grown selected Scots fir boards, 1 1/8 in and 1 in thick.114 sq yds Scots fir T. & G. flooring, 6 ½ in by 1 1/8 in.Sectional wooden erections; corrugated iron and wooden sheds.2 k.w. Petter fully automatic diesel-electric lighting plant, volt 110/135, with Dagenite storage battery; W.E.B.O. pillar vertical drilling machine, 1 1/8 in spindle; single-ending punching and shearing machine; slotting machine, 6 in stroke; D.H. Emery grinder; portable staving machine; tyre bender; 5 ft wheeling plate; Blacker bolt screwing machine-for hand; Horz drilling and mortising machine; 12 in surface planer; band sawing machine; two 10 ½ in centre wood turning lathes on 20ft common bed; circular saw bench; rounding machine; smithy, engineering and cartwrights’ tools; belting; joiners’ benches; cart body mountings etc.At Culthill Implement Works, Culthill, Murthly, Perthshire, on Tuesday first, 26 November, 1940. At 11 o’clock prompt.Shirlaw Allan & Co., auctioneers, Hamilton, have received instructions from John D. Allan, esq, Messrs J. D. Allan & Son, to sell, by auction, as above. Note-a special direction has been granted by the timber controller exempting buyers from the necessity of obtaining licences to consume timber purchased at this sale.”

The business was taken over by Mr J. Douglas Bryan, Caputh. The Perthshire advertiser announced this in its pages of 4 December 1940:

“Perthshire agricultural engineering business changes hands

It has given much pleasure to his friends in the district that Mr J. Douglas Bryan, Caputh, has taken over the old-established agricultural engineering business at Culthill.

Owing to Mr J. D. Allan’s retiral, the business changed hands at the Martinmas term, and Mr Bryan’s qualifications fitted him for the position. His experience of implement works extends over a period of twenty-seven years, he having acted as foreman cartwright to the firm during that term. His knowledge of all departments of the business will enable him to carry on in the footsteps of his predecessor, and he is assured of the good will and custom of farmer sin the district and far beyond the bounds of Perthshire.

The farm of Culthill, on which the business premises are situated, is now tenanted by Mr Stephen Bryan, a younger brother, who has run the fruit farm at Wester Gourdie successfully. This fruit farm has been the home of the Bryan family for about thirty years.

This fruit farm has been the home of the Bryan family for about thirty years. It is much regretted that for health reasons Mr J. D. Allan found it necessary to dispose of the business and farm of Culthill, which has been the home of himself and his forbears for upwards of one hundred years.

All branches of agriculture had his keen interest, but he took special pride in the feeding of cross Aberdeen Angus cattle.

Mr Allan has gone to spend his retirement in the Blairgowrie district, and his many friends wish him a speedy return to health.”

J. D. Allan died in December 1940. He left a significant impact and legacy on implement and machine making in Scotland. An obituary was included in the Aberdeen press and journal of 17 December 1940:

“Scots agricultural engineer deadA familiar personality at “Highland” Shows and other agricultural events in Scotland-Mr John Douglas Allan, lately of Culthill Implement Works, Murthly-has died in his sixtieth year at Ardmhor, Blairgowrie, where he took up residence three weeks ago. He had been in ill health for over a year, and at the Martinmas term he disposed of his well-known agricultural engineering business and the farm of Culthill.

Messrs Allan was sole partner of Messrs J. D. Allan & Sons, implement makers, a business that had been carried on since 1838 by the Allan family.”

The funeral of Mr Allan was described at length by the Perthshire advertiser of 21 December 1940:

Funeral of Mr J. D. Allan, formerly of Culthill Representatives from a wide area paid their last respects at the funeral of Mr John Dougal Allan, which took place to the family burial ground at Caputh Churchyard on Wednesday afternoon.

Mr Allan passed away on Sunday at Ardmhor, Blairgowrie, where he took up residence only three weeks ago. He disposed of the agricultural engineering business of Culthill Implement Works at the Martinmas term and also the farm of Culthill, which had been carried on by himself and forbears for three generations. Deceased was a prominent member of the “Highland” for upwards of 40 years and a director for Perth Show division for some three years. Delvine Curling Club, of which he was a keen member and vice-president, sent a beautiful floral tribute. In miniature rifle circles, Mr Allan was regarded as a crack shot, and he had competed at Bisley in his hey day.

He leaves a widow, one son and one daughter to mourn his loss.The Rev Kenneth O. Macleod officiated at both the house and grave, and members of the Delvine Curling Club carried the coffin.

The following were the pall-bearers:-Messrs J. D. Allan (son), J. T. Haxton, David Marshall, and James Cameron (brother-in-law), David Mitchell, Sir Archibald Lyle, Bart; Mr W. B. Sievwright, and Hon Sheriff-Substitute John Little.

Among the mourners were Messrs Peddie, H. Paxton, A. Cameron, Falconer, Harper, Ferguson, J. Reid, McGilchrist, Scrimgeour, Clow, Niven, Storrar, Walls, Blair, Doeg, J. Robertson, W. Robertson, P. Cameron, Graham, Pollock. Duncan, McCrichie, McLaren. R. Malloch, A. Malloch. McLee. Baxter, W. Reid, Hogarth, Forrest, Carmichael, Paul, Brown, Rattray, Clark, Bruce, etc.Wreaths were sent by Sir Archibald and Lady Lyle, Glendelvie; Mr and Mrs W. B. Sievewright; Mr and Mrs Gorrie, Drummondhall; Mr and Mrs W. B. Brown, St Andrews; Delvine Curling Club; Mr and Mrs Milne, Mrs Clow and Mrs Young; Mr and Mrs John Little; Mr and Mrs J. T. Paxton; Mr, Mrs and Miss Mitchell, Blairgowrie, etc.”

Local newspapers such as those in Dundee, Aberdeen and Perthshire provided significant information on the last days of J. D. Allan, an important maker in Perthshire and Scotland. From them we are able to know more about the nature of Mr Allan’s business and its stock and activities, as well as Mr Allan’s personal life and personal impact.


Fordson tractors in Scotland in 1922

In 1922 Fordson tractors were being advertised in the agricultural and the general newspaper press in Scotland. Adverts were persuasive, not only recording how affordable the tractors were (especially after their price was reduced), but how practicable and economical they were.

Throughout the year there were a series of articles published which continued the narrative of why farmers should purchase a Fordon. We have looked through the newspapers and pulled out the text of these adverts to show how Fordson developed its advertising campaign over the course of the year. Sometimes more than one advert was published in a month. The text of these adverts has been quoted at length.


Wonderful reduction in price of the Fordson tractor, from £190 to the reduced price of £120. This extraordinary reduction makes the Fordson tractor a positive miracle in value, and absolutely places it beyond all competition whatever. Not only is the price a matter of wonderment to the mechanical world, but the Fordson tractor has no superior, and no equal in lasting quality. For economy in general upkeep, it decidedly has no equal, repairs and overhauls will be less.

At £120 the Fordson range is within the reach of every farmer Horses, housing them, attention, and the cost of feeding can be dispensed with, and business made to bring a better return.In these days when increased production is required, particularly with the farmer, it does not require a keen foresight to at once see the advantage of putting into use a Fordson tractor without further delay. We shall be pleased to produce testimonials from farmers who are presently using Fordson tractors which we have supplied.

We shall with pleasure demonstrate the use of the Fordson in ploughing or in driving fixed machinery upon the farm, and also for road traction purposes on a few hours’ intimation we can have the Fordson tractor, with plough, upon any farm within thirty miles of Edinburhgh, or further afield. For the convenience of all who may not wish to make a cash purchase, we arrange payments extending over twelve months, within which time the tractor will repay its cost entirely upon any ordinary farm.


£120 (at works, Cork): Steady, light, alert, power to spare, economical of operation. Watch a Fordson Tractor in action and you will wonder how these apparently contradictory qualities of strength, lightness, power and speed could ever be combined in one unit.

The Fordson speed is available for hauling. Its power is available for drawing ploughs or disc harrows through the heaviest soil or for running the cutting-box, grinder or threshing machine.We take pride in handling such compact, portable power plant.

AprilTractors again reduced. The new low price of the Fordson tractor makes it a thoroughly practical business proposition to all Perthshire farmers. The cost of working a Fordson is compared to the high cost of manual labour-today.

The utility of the Fordson has to be believed. Whether for hauling implements or driving stationary machines, the Fordson cannot be surpassed.


The Fordson cuts the cost of preparing land almost to half of what it costs with horses. But even more important is the fact that the Fordson saves from thirty to fifty per cent of the farmer’s time. And time saved getting fields in shape to plant in the proper season; getting things done when they should be done means money to the farmer.

As ever, the machine-way is proving more efficient, faster, easier than the old hand way. In the factory, the machine increases production, saves labour, produces more at less cost. And that is what the Fordson does on the farm. The Fordson way is the machine-way of farming. And it is the least expensive way of machine farming.

The Fordson’s first cost is the lowest in the market; and the after-or operating cost is the lowest. It is a compact easily handled tractor, backed by the greatest tractor service organisation in the world.


One man with a Fordson tractor can do more work easier with less expense than two men can do with horses. The Fordson will take care of every power job on the farm. Threshing, bruising, grinding, etc, all come within the power of the Fordson tractor.


Fordson The Universal Tractor £120 at works, Cork. Buy your Fordson now. At this amazingly low price you can’t afford to wait another day for your Fordson tractor.

There is no tractor made that can approach the money value of the Fordson. Nor is there a tractor made that can do more work for you.

Remember, the very day your Fordson arrives, it is ready for any one of the 101 jobs it can do-either as a tractor of a stationary power plant.

The Fordson have proved to the 200,000 owners that it has not only cut the cost of field work 30% to 50% but that it has made substantial savings on every job to which it is put.


“Fordson the universal tractor” This value has never been duplicated. It takes something besides engineering to furnish a tractor like the Fordson to sell at this astonishingly low price [£120] That something is owner confidence. Built on permanent satisfaction. There are 200,000 Fordson tractors in use-whererever Power Farming is being done Fordson is showing superior service. If you are not using a Fordson now, start right. The working ability of this remarkable power plant is cutting farming costs in half in almost every kind of work done, at the draw bar or from the belt.

Cut your farm costs in half with the Fordson; save money on every acre ploughed with the Fordson; multiply the work of your farm tools four to six times-with the Fordson; cut your hours in the field over half-the Fordson; give yourself an 8-hour day-you can with the Fordson.


The Fordson tractor is now £120. It is £120 well spent and an outlay which will repay itself in one season’s work. The Fordson will plough your land efficiently at the lowest possible cost, and compares favourably with tractors costing almost three times the price.

During the year Fordson tractor demonstrations were held by agents such as D. R. Gordon, Bathgate. In February 1922 he advertised a demonstration on the farms of Whitedalehead, Whitburn, Inch, Bathgate and Knightsbridge. Both these demonstrations were on lea. A report of these was printed in the West Lothian courier of 3 March 1922:

For the purpose of demonstrating the utility of the Fordson tractor to the farmers and others in the Mid Calder district, Mr D. R. Gordon, authorised Ford dealer, Bathgate, arranged a ploughing on the farm of Raw, kindly granted by Mr Howatt. A goodly number attended and were very keenly interested in the work. The plough used was an Oliver no. 7 adjustable double furrow, specially designed by the makers for use with the Fordson tractor. The onlookers were specially appreciative of the finish, cleanness and regularity of the ploughing. The driver easily works his plough adjusting, lifting and lowering it without dismounting, altering the depth and width rapidly. Opportunity was given young farmers to try their hand in ploughing and quite a number did so, winning the approbation of the onlookers and showing that the Fordson was easily manipulated by young and old.

The price has been reduced to £120, plus carriage and extras where required, and is a most valuable asset to cultivation in producing the most efficient beneficial results.

On the following day a further demonstration was given on a stubble land courteously granted by Mr W. Crawford, Barracks, Livingston. The day was fine and many interested farmers attended. All were greatly pleased with the rapidity and good work of the Fordson tractor and Plough, and while many contrasts were made of prize ploughing and that under the Tractor, the general consensus of opinion was that it was a great and efficient asset to the work of the farm, which would soon be adopted in agriculture progress, and with ploughmen anxious to excel in their work could very soon reach, if not excel, the merits of existing systems.

The Fordson Tractor is available for haulage up to six tons, and is much used for transport work, for harrowing and rolling, grass cutting, corn cutting, haulage of corn in harvest and all stationary work its uses are manifold. Steadily its great usefulness if being enjoyed everywhere and it will be thankfully enjoyed and appreciated by every class as a most valuable help and profit by a wide variety of users.

Last week a further demonstration was held on Whitedalehead Farm, Whitburn, on lea by a Ransomes plough. The tractor was by everyone pronounced a success, while the ploughing produced work which for cropping purposes was considered very satisfactory. Many interested visitors were present and many of the comments were alike amusing and interesting, but the general consensus was that the Fordson Tractor and Tractor Ploughs would from now onwards be seen on every farm as capital auxiliaries in farm work.

On the day following another demonstration was given on Inch Farm, kindly granted by Mr Adamson. Very good work was presented, showing the skill and efficiency of the Fordson expert, to whom the best thanks of the promoters are justly due. Mr Steel, who arranged the demonstration, is, with his staff, entitled to praise for the excellent arrangements.”


What was at the Highland Show ninety years ago?

n 1912 the Highland Show was held in Cupar, the first and only time that it was held there. The exhibitors included the well-known Scottish agricultural implement and machine makers, some of which had been exhibiting for decades. Their stands provide a good glimpse into what was new and in use in implements and machines as well as the activities of the stand holders.

The Scotsman always provided a comprehensive account of the stands and their contents. Its account of 9 July 1912 is quoted at length:

“Farm implementsMessrs A. Ballach & Sons, Leith, exhibit an interesting and useful selection, among which the implements for use in the cultivation of turnips and other green crops for, form one of the features. In their stand are the firm’s patent combined disc drill scarifier, with compensating spring levers and hoeing attachment. They also show Mather’s patent potato digger, with horizontal reels, which is chain driven. It was worked last season near Edinburgh.

Messrs A. Muller & Co., Aberdeen, show the Hampel manure distributor, the Hampel potato digger, and an automatic spring-time cultivator.

The stand of Messrs A. & J. Main & Co. (Ltd), Edinburgh, which is one of the most prominent in the show, will be found to contain a large variety of implements of the most up-to-date type. Their specialities include the new “Ideal” binder, the outcome of several years’ experiments. The frame of this machine, though light in appearance, is strong beyond any possible requirement. The mechanical details have also been simplified, while the capacity has been increased, and the introduction of a new patent adjustable grain deck enables it to bind crops from one to seven feet in length. Special mention may also be made of the firm’s special “all iron and steel” hay sheds, fitted with their design of elevated trussed couples, which allow the greatest possible storing capacity, and which ensure complete safety from wind pressure below and show pressure above. This stand is replete with potato-raising machinery. Messrs Thomas Hunter & Sons, Maybole, have several of their specialities on view. These include several types of the “Hunter” hoe, some of which are fitted with new patent screws, and may be used for earthing up and as scarifiers and drill grubbers. Another interesting implement is the “Hunter” patent single drill self acting turnip topping and tailing machine. Variety in the implements shown is a characteristic of the stand of Messrs kemp & Nicholson, Stirling. Attention will no doubt be given to their “Westfalia” artificial manure distributor, suitable for three or four drills, or broadcast, which may be had with or without transport arrangement. Some of the largest departments include hay or stubble rakes, carts and vans of various types-including an improved cattle float-and turnip cutters.

One of the largest stands in this department is that of Messrs Alexander Jack & Sons (Limited), Maybole. Their “Empire” reapers and mowers and the “Empire” horse rake are up-to-date machines. A potato digger, with new graip action, is one of the many other implements which are worthy of inspection.

Some notable plough exhibits are to be seen at the stand of Messrs George Sellar & Son, Huntly. These include the “M.P.” plough, with one or two wheels and malleable body. A variety of grubbers and barrows are also open to inspection.

A stand familiar to the “Highland” is that of Messrs Newlands & Son, Linlithgow, who show a wide range of implements. Among these are several handy drill grubbers and Parmiter’s charlock harrow.

Messrs Bisset & Sons (Limited), Blairgowrie, who have a large stand, show binders and mowers, three types of potato digger, and a two-band straw trusser. An extensive collection is shown by Messrs John Doe (Limited), Errol and Perth, of many leading manufacturers’ implements.

The stand of Messrs Hood & Robertson (Limited), Cupar, includes well-known makes of milk separators, binders, and potato diggers.

Among the smaller stands may be mentioned those of Messrs Wm Smith & Co, New Broughton, Edinburgh, who show live stock weigh bridges; the Agricultural Implement Co., Dundee; Mr D. T. Paterson, Duns, who has a wind engine, complete with tower, wheel and pump; and Messrs beg & Sons, Dalry, Ayrshire, who have several ploughs on view.

Farm and horticultural equipment

Next to the directors’ pavilion is one of the largest stands in the yard, that occupied by Messrs Thomas Gibson & Son, Bainfield Iron Works, Edinburgh, who have on view over 150 articles of their own manufacture. One of the most interesting to farmers is the wrought-iron corn rickstand, with improved air bossing, enabling the farmer to take in his grain in good condition. The exhibition of estate furnishings, including ornamental entrance gates, fencings, and tree guards, is on a large scale, and is quite of a noteworthy character. There is an equally large assortment of horticultural requisites. Messrs Thomas Sheriff & Co., Dunbar, show corn drills of the latest pattern. The “Small Holdings” seeder, which is combined drill and broadcast, with five-row adjustable coulters, and may be used for all kinds of seeds, appears to be ab efficient machine. There are also several broadcast sowers at this stand. Several new patent steel-framed balers form the leading implements at the stand of Messrs Dickie Brothers, Stirling. There are also rick lifters and an improved hay bogie for working with rick lifter. A compact display of some of the lighter farm machines is made by Messrs Allan & Sons, Murthly-viz, potato diggers and thistle cutters. They have also several coup carts and a useful turnip cutting cart. Mr D. Wilson, East Linton, Prestonkirk, makes a speciality of potato implements, including a potato raiser, which, it is claimed, will lift the whole crop undamaged.

Quite an impressive display of Scottish made implements and machines!


An episode in the history of Barclay, Ross, and Hutchison, Aberdeen in 1929

Back in 1914 Barclay, Ross & Tough conducted its business from Balmoral Buildings, 67-71 Green, Aberdeen, and at Craigshaw, Aberdeen. It was two addresses that became closely known with its successor Barclay, Ross & Tough and Barclay, Ross & Hutchison Ltd in 1920.

Early important changes were brought about in 1915 with the retrial of Robert Tough. The business continued to be run by the remaining partners, Robert Ross and Thomas Hutchison. Mr Barclay, the other partner, had been commission agent in Aberdeen from at least 1874 and then a manure, agricultural implement and commission merchant by 1890. By 1898 he was described as “Morrison Barclay, of Barclay, Ross and Tough.

On the retrial of Robert Ross, the business was taken over by Scottish Agricultural Industries Ltd on 1 July 1929. In 1933 it advertised in the North British Agriculturist as Barclay, Ross & Hutchison Ltd, associated with Scottish Agricultural Industries Ltd”. In that year it exhibited at the Highland Show the “S.A.I. chemical dresser for all seeds”.

In 1929 the take over of B. R. H. by Scottish Agricultural Industries Ltd was recorded in the Scottish newspaper press. The Aberdeen press and journal on 25 May 1929 provided an extensive account on the change of business. It is worth quoting at length:

“Aberdeen business changes hands Messrs Barclay, Ross, and HutchisonWhen Scottish Agricultural Industries Ltd, was formed at the beginning of this year, it was stated that their intention was to deal in all agricultural requisites, and, following that policy, they have arranged to acquire, as from July 1 next, the whole of the shares of the old-established business of Messrs Barclay, Ross and Hutchison Ltd, Aberdeen, whose name is well known to agriculturists in the north and midlands of Scotland as seedsmen, millwrights, and manufacturers of agricultural implements.

The business will be carried on as hitherto with the same staff, and under the management of Mr Hutchison, who has been a director for many years.

Mr Ross, the senior director, is retiring, but the company will continue to have, when necessary, the benefit of his advice and experience.

Origin of firm

It was in 1871 that the business was founded by Mr Morrison Barclay. In 1900 the firm’s name became Barclay, Ross, and Tough; and in 1918, when the concern was converted into a limited company, the designation became Barclay, Ross, and Hutchison, Ltd. Mr Hutchison became associated with the business in 1904, and in 1912 he was made a partner. Two years ago a branch of the business was established at Perth.

In more recent years the trading activities of the firm were greatly developed throughout all parts of the north-east. No business of its kind is better known in this area.

Barclay, Ross, and Hutchison hold a Royal Warrant as agricultural implement makers to His Majesty the King. The engineering works are at Craigshaw, Torry, where the chief output is threshing machines, manure distributors, and cultivators.

Royal Northern Secretaries

Mr Ross and Mr Hutchison acted as joint-secretaries of the Royal Northern Agricultural Society for many years, and it was owing to the expansion of their business that they were compelled to give up that office.

Mr Hutchison has been the demonstrator for several years on farm implements for the North of Scotland College of Agriculture.”


An important Aberdeen implement and machine maker: Ben Reid & Co

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 published an extensive account of the opening of these new premises from the Implement and Machinery Review in its issue of 19 October 1892. It also provided information on the history of the company It is worth quoting at length:

“The current number of the Implement and Machinery Review contains a very interesting article on the Bon Accord Works, Aberdeen, from which we make the following extract: Deriving its name (Aberdeen) from the Dee, on the north bank of which it lies, this town of 113,000 inhabitants was regarded as “a place of some commerce” by the Normans in 1153, and her people’s watchword, “Bon Accord”, in Bruce’s time, is still her motto. Ever courageous, her citizens have sought to soar higher socially and industrially, and a drive through Aberdeen and her environs to-day shows unmistakably that she is “in the running” with the fleetest of the nation’s most progressive people. The spirit of emulation, which is characteristic of “men of mettle” was soon exemplified in Benjamin Reid of that city, who, starting in life as a gardener, soon became a florist, afterwards a seed merchant, also a horticultural implement vendor, and lived to be none other than the stepping-stone for the important implement making business now conducted at the Bon Accord Works, which his nephew ultimately founded. Ben Reid was a man of great integrity, and his nephew George, like him, lived to be beloved, but he was far more enterprising than his respected relative. They were in partnership for about six years, but George’s ambition was to widen the scope of their operations, and when the reins of administration fell solely into his hands he began seed drill making in Union Street, and thereto removed the wire working branch from his Guild Street premises that they might be kept exclusively as a seed depot, distinct from what he hoped would in time become constructive works of some significance. But the seed vending and seed drill making and wire weaving businesses ultimately grew to such an extent that they outran his ability to conveniently control them personally; and so good a trade was bemirrored in the increasing call he experienced for different classes of implements and machinery that even more efficient supervisional help than his was rendered necessary. Determined to extend the reputation he had acquired, he kept his eye upon two good business men who had impressed him with their ability to consummate his wishes. They were William Anderson, then representing Messrs Murray & Co., of Banff, and Robert G. Garvie, manager of the Northern Agricultural Implement Co., of Inverness. That he was ‘cute in their selection is certain, for whilst the former had originally conducted his own smithy and implement business at Macduff, and had acquired much experience of men and home and export business in his outside management of an agricultural engineer’s affairs, the latter had been brought up in his father’s mill, where a practical acquaintance with the joiner’s craft had made him conversant with constructive methods, and he had supplemented this knowledge by valuable experience inseparable from the responsible position he afterwards held in Inverness. To gauge their views in hope of assimilating them with his ideas, Mr George Reid interviewed them in London at one of the best meeting places possible for such a purpose. This was at the Smithfield Show at Islington. The offer he made them was tendered as “an excellent one”. They agreed to join him, and became partners in 1876, but he has “passed away”. Yet, as the sole surviving proprietors of the Bon Accord Works (still conducted as Ben Reid & Co’s), Messrs Anderson & Garvie not only look back with pleasure upon the genuineness of George Reid’s promises, but love to dwell upon his good qualities of mind and heart. Reverting to the Smithfield interview whilst addressing us, “I well remember”, said Mr Anderson, “Mr Reid’s saying, with a. degree of forcefulness not to be forgotten, “I’ve a good business for you”. That statement’s correctness has been fully borne out, for we’ve been prospering ever since”. This avowal appears to be as true as George Reid’s statement was correct, for we fins that within the last ten years no less than three gold, fifteen silver, and five bronze medals, cut of a total of ninety prizes, have been awarded them by notable Agricultural Societies in recognition of their goods’ superiority; and their implements and machinery have found buyers, not only in the British Isles, but in Cape Colony, Natal, the Argentine Republic, Bolivia, Chili, Canada, Ceylon, Egypt, India, France, Germany, Spain, Russia, and Norway, a single order for a hundred threshing machines having been given by one of these markets not long ago.”

An informative account on a great Aberdeen company and its new premises!


The Highland Show of 1914: a glimpse at what was available to the Scottish agriculturist before the First World War

The First World War had a significant impact on Scottish agriculture including the growing of crops, rearing of animals, farm labour and the mechanisation of farming. A glimpse of what was available to the agriculturist, including new developments, can be found in accounts of the implement department of the Highland Show.In 1914 the show was held at Kelso.

The Scotsman, in its account of the show on 14 July, provided an account on aspects of the implement department and notable implements and machines that were being exhibited. What were the Scottish makers exhibiting? What was novel? What was among their regular implements and machines?

The Scotsman writes:

“After the three hours’ rainfall on Sunday, the showyard of the Highland and Agricultural Society in Wilton Park Lodge looked fresh and green yesterday morning. Brilliant sunshine prevailed all day, and the prospects for the open to-day are of an exceedingly promising nature. The show buildings are on an ample scale, and the entries of implements and machinery are fully two hundred more than at the last Border district show. Everything is in readiness for the task of judging, which begins at half-past nine o’clock, and so large were the entries in some of the sheep sections that the judging will not finish till late in the afternoon.

Fine display of implements

While there were no implements at the first two Edinburgh shows of the Society, and although the number afterwards shown did not reach four figures until the Kelso show of 1863, the importance of this department has grown so much in the fifty-one years’ interval that it has long since been recognised as not only one of the attractive features of the show for the general public, but also as of the greatest practical value to agriculturists in every line of farm work. During the last half-century great strides have been made in the invention of agricultural machinery, and the mechanism has not yet called a halt, for every year sees some new improvement added to labour-saving appliances which enter into the economy of the farm. Although the total of 1873 implements is not a record for the Border district-there were 1933 implements exhibited at Kelso in 1888-it is still a good average for a county meeting of the Society, and is 220 more than at Peebles eight years ago. There are in all 204 implement stands. Great activity was shown on all stands yesterday, and the various exhibits in all departments were being brought forward in fairly good time.

Progress in agricultural engineering

There is nothing in the implement section of the show on this occasion that could be described as strikingly novel, and, manufacturers having learned the lessons of previous failures, there is at the same time and absence of anything of a freakish order. The whole display suggests solidity, progress having been continued along well-established lines rather than in new avenues, but a steady all-round advance has nevertheless been made. A broad view of the implement yard illustrates the extent to which engineering achievement in other fields, perhaps most notably in regard to the internal combustion engine, is gradually being applied in the domain of agriculture. The future of the self-propelled agricultural vehicle is by no means certain. Its construction offers many difficulties in the way of high power combined with light weight and small initial and working costs, but already some very practical machines have been put forward. In the “motor yard” of the show, which is situated at the entrance gate, and is divided off from the general implement section and the showyard proper by the river Teviot, there is only one example of the motor cultivator, but it is of a fairly representative type. At the “Royal” Show at Shrewsbury there were nine exhibits of this nature. The “agrimotor” in question is the “Garrett-Crawley” shown by Richard Garrett & Sons, Leiston Works, Suffolk, and it is the first implement of the kind yet staged at a “Highland” Show. It is show fitted with three drills, but it is so adapted that the ploughing fittings can be easily discarded for others suitable for general cultivation work. It is a tractor as well as a plough. Two men are required to work it, a man being still necessary to guide the plough, although it seems possible that in the course of time this extra hand may be dispensed with. That would appreciably enhance the economical qualities the machine already possesses. The engine is a 45hp four-cylinder one, and the working costs are reckoned at something like 1s 6d per acre. The cost of the machine is £250. Superheated steam tractors are another feature of the motion yard, and side by side with the agricultural motor Messrs Garrett show three excellent types of varying power. A “three tonner” is fitted with solid rubber tyres, single in front, and a guarantee, of 10,000 miles is given with these tyres, a general use of which on big commercial vehicles would add greatly to the peace of the town dweller.

Representative Scottish stands

Scottish firms make a very favourable appearance.

Mr R. G. Garvie, Aberdeen, has his usual display of thrashing and other types of agricultural machinery. The principal implement is a 3-feet wide thrashing and finishing machine, which works at high speed and with double blast, and is fitted with a screen for small seeds. “To finish grass ready for the market without further dressing” is its purpose. A 12hp oil engine for driving purposes is shown in conjunction with it. Two smaller types of thrashers are shown driven by petrol engines, and a hand and foot thrashing machine and two types of sowing machines also find places on the stand.

Messrs Alley & MacLellan, Polmaddie Works, Glasgow, confine their exhibit to only one feature, and that a peculiarly British product, and one in which home manufacturers at the present time lead the world. They stage a large steam motor waggon of their own design and construction, suitable for a variety of purposes, and giving economical returns.

Mr Daniel Douglas, Perth, also has only one exhibit-a 4 feet fixed double blast thrashing machine, of improved type, for finishing corn for the market.

The Bon-Accord Engineering Company, Aberdeen, stage 1 9hp oil engine, adaptable to various forms of farm work, and also two thrashing machines, one 21 inch wide and the other 30 inches wide. Their comprehensive collection includes an artificial manure distributor, a wire strainer, a liquid manure or water pump, and a hay collector of handy type.

Messrs Barclay, Ross & Tough, Aberdeen, have a nice collection of thrashing, dressing, and finishing machines of standard type, as well as hand thrashers, winnowers, and cultivators. Typical examples of some of their agencies are also shown.

Some new features

Messrs P. & R. Fleming, Glasgow, one of the most prominent stands on the grown by reason of its size, as well as by its varied nature, show a Hornsby oil engine driving a Richmond & Chandler grist mill, and a small “Associated” petrol engine driving a “Phoenix” potato dresser, an implement which has found considerable favour in the North. A new implement shown for the first time at the “Highland” is the Norfolk farmyard manure spreader, a machine which can be attached to the back of an ordinary farm cart, or can be loaded and driven to the field. A specimen of the Ransome potato digger is shown in motion, and demonstrates the easy working of the modern digger over the old fixed pattern. Rick lifters, potato sprayers, hay collectors, and numerous other implements combine to make a capital exhibition.

Messrs John Wallace & Sons (Ltd), Glasgow, show a varied selection of farm implements and machinery. Among the items on their stand are several mowers and reapers of handsome appearance, and the “Reliance” manure distributor, which is one of the most up-to-date machines for the distribution of artificial manures. It is only offered to the public this year for the first time. Potato diggers, potato planters, combined drill ploughs, and manure sowers, ploughs &c, complete a very representative display.

Windmills and towers, rick lifters, hay collectors, &c are shown by Messrs William Dickie & Sons, East Kilbride, the display including a new patent rick-lifter for either horse or hand power.

A stand of local interest is that of Messrs D. M. Wallace & Sons, Bowmount Works, Kelso. It is small, but contains two useful specimens, one a massive threshing machine, with a 48 in by 22 in drum, and the other a 19-21 bhp oil engine made by Allan Brothers. A miscellaneous collection of weighbridges, from the 10cwt size to the 50 cwt size, is staged by Messrs Henry Pooley & Son, Glasgow and Edinburgh, who also show weighing machines of every kind.

A display of a corresponding mature, and including several excellent sack-weighing machines, is made by the well-known firm of Messrs W. & T. Avery, Partick.

Another leading Scottish firm, Messrs John Wallace & Sons (Ltd), Dennistoun, Glasgow, include in their exhibit mowers and reapers of improved type, while their cultivators are representative of their most popular designs. Sargeant’s patent manure distributors occupy a prominent place on the stand, together with samples of the Wallace binder, combined drill plough and manure sowers, & c, and various types of ordinary ploughs.

Messrs Allan Brothers, Aberdeen, show five oil engines of different horse-power, but all of the improved lampless type, specially designed for agricultural purposes, and to work work with any brand of oil.

Display of motor vehicles

It is a sign of the times when we find three stands devoted solely to the display of motor road vehicles. A promising field for cheap motor cars undoubtedly exists among farmers, and this fact seems to be realised by the American firms, if not by the British manufacturers. Two of the makes of cars on display are American, the Studebaker and the Maxwell, both popularly priced types. They form ideal farmers’ cars. In addition, the Studebaker firm show a self-starting delivery van of useful size.

One of the most interesting things in the motor vehicle line, however is to be found on the stand of Halley’s Industrial Motors (Ltd), Yoker, and it consists of a 15-22hp motor caravan. It is a regular house on wheels, replete with cooking range, bunks, tables &c. Five or six people could sleep aboard, and provided the necessary tent facilities are included a dozen people could be carried. The vehicle averages 17 miles to the gallon of petrol, which is an excellent result, considering that it weighs about 2 ½ tons. It is so adapted that it could for, an improvised grandstand at a race meeting or such like. It is catalogued at £600. Messrs Hally also show one of their well-known “two-ton” motor lorries.

Among other Scottish firms in the ordinary farm implement section, a prominent place is taken by Messrs J. & R. Wallace, Castle Douglas, who have enjoyed a reputation for some time past on account of their patent milking machine, which is shown replete with vacuum pump, tanks, can, and set of motors with connecting tubes. They also exhibit three forms of manure distributors.

Messrs John McBain & Sons, Chirnside, have a good display of windmills and pumps, root cutters, sheep hacks, carts &c.

Stationary oil engines, horizontal and vertical, suitable for all classes of power work, and operating equally well on petrol and paraffin, are the only products shown by Messrs Alexander Shanks & Son, Dens Iron Works, Arbroath.

Messrs Telfords (Limited), Glasgow, have an interesting and thoroughly comprehensive display of dairying appliances, including pasteurizers, rotary pumps. Separators, &c. Mr Charles Weir, Strathaven and Glasgow, has a comprehensive display, comprising thrashing mills, petrol engines, churns, rick lifters, hoes, curd mills &c.

Messrs Fleming & Company, Glasgow, show jack-hammer and tripod drills of various sizes, together with specimens of steam and water-driven air compressors,a nd various tarring accessories.

Varied assortment of farm implements

Messrs A. & J. Main & Co., Edinburgh, occupy a prominent place with a large collection of Deering harvesting machinery, comprising the now famous ball and roller bearing “Ideal” binders. It is claimed for the Deering “Ideal” binder that it is the lightest running grain harvester on the market. Much of the light draft if due to the ball and roller bearings. They are made of a special quality of steel, and they take up the wear and tear of the moving parts without perceptibly wearing themselves. There are also shown the “Ideal” two-horse and one-horse mowers, the latter being well adapted for the use of hill farmers and dairymen, and hay rakes and tedders. There is also displayed here rick-lifters, rick stands, manure distributors, potato diggers, potato sorters; and further variety is given to the display by an assortment of sheep turnip cutters, sheep feed bin, sheep wire netting, and petrol engines.

Messrs Alexander Balloch & Sons, Manderston Street, Leith, have an attractive stand of well finished examples of their leading specialities. Their famous patent disc drill scarifiers occupy a prominent position. The disc saddles of these machines are fitted with tension springs, which enables the operator to give the steel pairing discs more or less pressure on the drills according to the soil being worked, and are also fitted with compensating spring levers, which automatically lift the discs when the latch is released. The machine is suitable for turnips, mangolds, carrots, beans, &c, and can be adjusted to suit the various stages of the crops. There are also exhibits of drill scarifier with side-lands arrangement and hoeing attachment.Messrs William Elder & Sons, Berwick on Tweed, show broadcast sowing machines, capable of sowing grain and grass seeds of every description, and to a width of from 16 to 18 feet and sowers and reapers, hay bogies, turnip, mangold and rape sowers, drill rollers, and scarifiers, turnip cutting carts, and many other implements are contained in Messrs Elder’s varied collection.

Messrs J Bisset & Son (Limited), Blairgowrie, have on view three of their patent Bisset binders, which it is claimed are light in draught, easy to handle in working, and durable. One of the principal features of this type of binders is that the binder attachment has been lengthened, and has a greater transverse than ordinary. This is an advantage in tying long crop. From the driver’s seat it can be easily moved backwards or forward as required to the best position for binding long or short crop. The transport is a handy assortment which can be mounted or dismounted in a few minutes without the use of tools, and without unyoking the horses. The Bisset straw trusser, with simple and effective knotters, and with simple adjustable hoppers, is also a notable exhibit.

Messrs Alexander Jack & Sons (Limited), Agricultural Implement Works, Maybole, Ayrshire, have a large stand on which prominence is given to several “Imperial” artificial manure distributors to sow in different widths up to 9ft 4 ins. These implements distribute all kinds of artificial manures, and each machine is supplied with five change speed pinions of wide range. By means of a regulating lever the distribution may be varied from a half to 25cwts per acre according to the condition and the kind of manure. The firm also make a speciality of potato raisers, carrying six forks. The forks, though centrally driven do not move in a circle, but give a good hand-form action. The inclination of the forks is easily altered to meet the requirements of different crops, and the peculiarities of different soils.

Messrs J. D. Allan & Sons, Murthly, have on view a variety of appliances of their well-known manufacture, including their patent dung spreader, potato diggers, and a number of coup and other carts. In addition to a number of drill ploughs, grubbers and scarifiers, Messrs Thomas Hunter & Sons, Maybole, show an “Excelsior” manure distributor, features of which are that it is worked by an endless chain, and will distribute very wet manure.

Messrs Robert Begg & Sons, Dalry, Ayrshire, have among their exhibits six chill ploughs, two with two sett irons, as well as a special double-furrow ploughs, and an improved drill plough, with marker.

Messrs Kemp & Nicolson, Stirling, display a number of specimens of their drill grubbers, horse hay or stubble rakes, harrows, carts, and lorries. Three double-action leverage hay and straw balers with steel framing, on this stand, should receive close attention.

Messrs A. Newlands & Sons, St Magdelene Engineering Works, Linlithgow, make a feature of drill grubbers, with renewable plates, which go into the hardest ground. A side lever on the wheels regulates the depth. Besides a number of ploughs and cultivators, the firm also display a self-acting rake and a “Parmeter” flexible harrow for taking fog out of pasture.

On the stand set apart for Messrs Thomas Brown & Sons, Duns, are to be seen the “Cammo” combined reaper and mower, turnip cutters and slicers, an improved potato sorter with elevator, corn drills and cultivators, including a thirteen double-tined cultivator with front swivel wheel.

The outstanding feature of the stand occupied by Mr David Wilson, Bridgeside Implement Works, East Linton, Prestonkirk, is a potato digger, which it is claimed, will raise the whole crop undamaged, and leave it in narrow rows. The other exhibits include a potato cleaning and sizing machine, a washing machine and potato sprouting boxes.

Farm and horticultural equipment

A large assortment of farm and horticultural implements are exhibited by Messrs Thomas Gibson & Son, Bainfield Iron Works, Edinburgh, who occupy one of the largest stands in the yard. They have on view about 150 different iron and steel articles of their own manufacture. Among the outstanding exhibits are two iron corn rick stands, one 14 feet diameter and the other 10 feet, with improved air bossings, the purpose of which is to enable farmers to take in corn in wet weather. There are exhibited carriage and field gates of every description, ornamental wire archways, and a variety of shelter tents, ornamental hurdle and garden fencing, and a large assortment of horticultural requisites. Tar barrows suitable for being taken to the hills to smear sheep are also prominently exhibited on this stand.

Messrs Mackenzie & Moncur, Balcarres Street, Edinburgh, have on view one of their ornamental conservatoires, the appearance of their stand being much enhanced by a number of hothouse plants grown in one of their own erections. They also display boilers for heating apparatus, and garden frames.

Among a variety of lawn mowers on this stand allotted to Messrs Alexander Shanks & Son (Limited) Dens Iron Works, Arbroath, the outstanding article on view is a 30 inch motor lawn mower, complete with grass box.

A wind engine and water wheel are exhibited by Mr D. T. Paterson, Duns. A number of “The Sheriff” corn drills, a market gardener seeder, with adjustable coulters, for all kinds of market gardens, seeds and grains, fitted with patent tempered steel delivery brushes and markets, and a variety of steel frame sowers are among the more prominent exhibits displayed by Messrs Thomas Sheriff & Co., West Barns, Dunbar. Of special interest is the “Small Holdings” combined drill and broadcast sower, with adjustable coulter. This is a handy machine, which sows all kinds of small seeds and grain and grass seeds.

Various kinds of binders, including a “Milwaukee” special light draught binder, combined reapers and mowers, general purpose ploughs, improved potato diggers, and turnip and mangold sowers are among the principal exhibits on the stand occupied by Mr George Henderson, Kelso Foundry, Kelso. A number of cattle and pig troughs are also shown.

Messrs Wm Wilson & Son, Crosshouse, Ayrshire, exhibit a patent horse fork and crane; and a blowing, winnowing, and screening machine for cleaning grain and grass seed, with a special riddle for taking runches out of oats.