A Scottish engine maker – R. G. Morton, Errol

One of the less-well known implement makers that is recollected today is R. G. Morton, Errol. In its day, the company was a highly regarded engine maker, making among other items, horizontal engines, semi-portable engines, boilers, turbines and threshing mills.

By 1877 Robert G. Morton had set up his business at the railway station, Errol, Perthshire, from which he had the ease of transport to distribute his manufactures. By 1913 the company had changed form and R. G. Morton (Errol) was located at Motherwell, Lanarkshire.

The company actively promoted its manufactures in both the North British Agriculturist and the Scottish Farmers, especially from the mid 1880s onwards until 1913. It was a regular attender at the Highland Show from 1870. It considered itself as an innovative business, entering a number of its manufactures for trials of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. These included an exhaust fan in 1884 which won a £10 prize. In 1884 it entered the Society’s trial of machines adapted for cleaning all sorts of grain and other seeds from weeds. In 1888 one of its steam engines was selected for and entered for trial. In 1890 it entered the Society’s trial of grist mills.

By trade, the company was an agricultural implement maker, a boilermaker, engineer and millwright,a machine maker, a mechanical engineer, and more lately a motor-van, lorry and builder.

On the death of Robert G. Morton in the spring of 1920, the North British Agriculturist, acknowledged his innovative business. It wrote:

“To farmers of twenty-five to forty years ago, few men were better known in the agricultural engineering business than Mr R. Aikman Gray Morton, whose death has taken place at his son’s residence, 2 hamilton Drive, Bothwell. Mr R. G. Morton was the noted millwright and agricultural engineer of Errol, Perthshire, and in his time carried on an extensive business which had a wide and well-established reputation. Mr Morton first made his mark in 1868, having in that year invented the “Comb Drum” threshing machine, an implement which practically revolutionised the system of grain threshing then in force. One of his greatest improvements on the original Comb Drum machine was the introduction of the double drum, by which it was possible not only to thresh clean grain of every description, but also to preserve the most tender-fibres straw from being unduly broken up or damaged. In addition to threshing machines and farm engines (which at Errol had been brought to a wonderful degree of perfection), Mr Morton did a large trade in numerous other agricultural appliances, as well as in general machinery for manufacturing purposes, and these were sent to almost every manufacturing centre in the world. He was a man of high ideal and universally esteemed.”

Morton is a fantastic example of how innovative engineering was carried on in rural Scotland and of its outstanding reputation.