An episode in the history of Shearer Brothers, Maybank Works, Turriff

A well-known thrashing mill maker in north-east Scotland was Shearer Brothers, Maybank Works, Railway Station, Turriff, later of Balmellie Street, Turriff. It undertook business from at least 1876 until 1972; on 18 July 1972 the company passed a special resolution to voluntarily wind up the company. The final winding up meeting was held on 29 August 1972.

The company undertook a number of trades and was an agricultural engineer, an agricultural implement maker, a machinery maker, a mechanical engineer, millwright and later a motor engineer. It was active in promoting its manufactures: exhibiting at the Highland Show from 1876 until 1939. It was awarded a medium silver medal for foot power thrashing machine in 1876. It also entered into the trial of machines for cleaning all sorts of grain and other seeds from weeds in 1884. It was also regular advertiser in the North British Agriculturist from 1884 onwards.

The company manufactured a range of threshing mills. In 1876 it manufactured a foot power thrashing machine which it described as a new invention. By 1881 it manufactured its “Advance” thresher for foot and hand power and the “Simplex” rotary fanner. By the following year it was also manufacturing a small hand thresher with adjustable feeder. These continued to be its main manufactures for following years. To these were added the new “Paragon” dressing and screening machine in 1887.

One of the partners of Shearer Brothers was John Shearer, a millwright. He became its sole partner. He died on 11 August 1888 at Maybankk, Turriff, aged 54 years. After his death all claims against him were settled. The business, including its goodwill was sold. It was advertised in a number of newspapers including the Aberdeen Free Press and the Banffshire Journal and General Advertiser. A sale advert, published in the Banffshire Journal and General Advertiser of 30 October 1888 was as follows:

“Shearer Brothers

To millwrights and engineers

For sale, the goodwill of a long-established and successful millwright and engineering business, known as Shearer Brothers, Maybank Works, Turriff, Aberdeenshire. The business will be sold as a going concern, and falls to be disposed of owing to the death of the sole partner, John Shearer. The property consists of the whole working plant, workshops, and machinery, together with a handsome modern cottage (which if not wanted with the business may be otherwise disposed of). There is a first-class home and foreign connection, and it is seldom such a favourable opening into the market. The business is being carried on by Mr Shearer’s widow. All applicants must apply in the first instance to P. H, Macpherson, Timber Merchant, Macduff.

Macduff, 30th October 1888.”

By 1889 the new owners were hard at work developing the business. By 2 April it was advertising for an apprentice millwright for the business. In August it was exhibiting its manufactures at the cattle show at Turriff. The Daily Free Press of 7 August 1889 noted that the business “had a nice collection of useful implements and machines”.

In the Highland News of 9 November 1889 it described itself as “inventors and manufacturers of the most improved thrashing and other barn machines. Their new system of one, two, and three horse-power combined thrashing machines have gained the highest testimony as being the most compact and powerful thrashers now made; and are so complete in themselves that any labourer can fix them for work. They occupy very little space. The new foot and hand threshers for the 1889-90 are so improved that one man (unasisted) can thrash eight bushels per hour. Adjustable to all kinds and qualities. Over 1000 made and sold. Invented and manufactured by Shearer Brothers. All other foot threshers are imitations, copied from our old thrashers, and without the new improvements. Beware of these counterfeits.” By the end of the year it commented on the “great success” of its new hand and foot threshers.