Mastering cultivation for the croft: the Rollo Croftmaster

Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies, Ipswich, and other companies were aware of the potential for the development of small tractors and associated implements and machines for the crofter and small holders. Ransoms brought out its MG series of tractors to meet this need, manufacturing implements for them at its premises at Crostorphine in the early 1950s.

In Scotland agricultural engineers were also looking at the same problem. On 3 April 1954 the Falkirk herald carried an article which reported: “The first “baby” tractor, designed and built specifically for crofters and small farmers, has been produced at Bonnybridge. Delivery of the first production model was made last week to a farmer in Argyllshire. It is made and assembled at the St Andrew’s Engineering Works, Bonnybridge. Apart from the three horse power petrol engine and the tyres, the tractor is of entirely Scottish manufacture. Designer Mr J. M. Rollo, to whom the Works belong, is drawing on the facilities of his Easdale and Inverasdale factories to make parts of the implement but the bulk of the work is done at Bonnybridge, where a new building has been erected for the project. Mr Rollo made personal delivery of the first sale and demonstrated its capabilities on the purchaser’s croft. He claims that his “baby” can perform the same tasks as larger tractors; its size recommends its use on smaller farms.

It is expected, from a recent survey, that the Scottish demand for an implement of this kind is likely to be in the region of 200 a year. It is also expected that there will be a considerable market for the machine in the export field. An anonymous donation to the Highland Fund of £10,000, for the purchase of 50 of these tractors, to be distributed to individual crofters, has enabled production to get into full swing right away. The machine is to be on show at the Industries Exhibition which is being held in Glasgow in September. Its features include independent front wheel suspension and the plough is raised and lowered hydraulically. In every respect it is similar to the larger tractors. There is a river’s seat, and a light weight trailer, made of synthetic wood, is available for transport purposes. An acre of land can be ploughed on a petrol consumption of two gallons. The implement is known as the olio Croftmaster.”

The Rollo Croftmaster was first exhibited at the Highland Show in Edinburgh in 1955. Rollo Industries Ltd continued to exhibit it at the shows in 1956 (Inverness), 1957 (Dundee) and 1960 (Ingliston). It was entered for the new implement award of the Highland Show in 1956 as the Rollo Croftmaster tractor fitted with new Rollo patented plough mounting linkage. The tractor cost £190; the hydraulic lift and patented plough linkage cost £30 and the mounted plough £18 10s.

Later examples were made by Barrmor Tool Works Ltd, St Andrew’s Works, Bonnybridge.

There are still one or two Rollo Croftmasters around the vintage machinery rally fields in Scotland. Keep an eye for them. They provide quite a contrast to the larger farm tractors!


A celebrated potato digger from Mr John Richmond, Dron, Perthshire, in 1907

Some of the readers will recollect that Mr Richmond of Dron had successfully patented a potato planter that came to be manufactured by John Wallace & Sons, Paton Street, Dennistoun, Glasgow, one of the major implement and machine makers in Scotland. In the following year, 1907 he also patented a new potato digger, which he also patented. There was a lot of excitement about it and it was trialled in a number of locations throughout Scotland.

The following article in the Nairnshire telegraph of 26 November 1907 describes a trial of the digger and the potential improvements that it had over existing types of potato digger:

“New patent potato digger

On Thursday afternoon a new potato digger, patented by Mr John Richmond, Dron, near Perth, was tried, in presence of a number of farmers and merchants on a field on the farm of Grange of Elcho, tenanted by Mr Lyburn. Mr Richmond’s patent is on the horizontal principle. The prongs are hung in a joint, and are so mechanically arranged that when three-quarters through the drill they receive a kicking motion, which acts similarly to hand digging, and the potatoes are in this way thrown gently or violently as may be desired. What Mr Richmond claims for his patent is, in the first place, that fewer potatoes will be buried. He also claims that fewer potatoes are damaged by cutting or bruising, and. That, in consequence, his digger will be more suitable for lifting some of the larger sizes. This latter benefit was demonstrated on the field when working alongside a vertical machine. The soil was light and friable, the land was clean, and was in every way suitable for the trials, which were most successful. The crop averaged about ten tons an acre. The new principle has been applied by Mr Richmond to Messrs Wallace & Son’s diggers, which have been on the market for years.”

The photographs show his patented potato planted manufactured by Wallace of Glasgow.


A stalwart of the Scottish agricultural implement trade who will be missed

We were saddened to hear of the recent death of Jimmy McGhee, retired managing director of Pollock Farm Equipment. On his retiral in September 2020 he had spent 53 years in the implement trade.

Jimmy joined A. & W. Pollock of Mauchline as an apprentice agricultural engineer on 14 August 1967. He progressed to the drawing office and was then a salesman. Upon John Pollock’s retirement in 1998 he took over the company, renaming it Pollock Farm Equipment.

Under his leadership, Pollock’s has won two silver medals from the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. One was won in 2019 and in 2022 its Pollock Rope Scraper System won a gold award. There are not too many of these awards around.

Jimmy wrote about his work and the development of his business in his book “Pollock Agricultural Implement Makers 1867-2017”, published by Carn Publishing in 2017 to mark the 150 year anniversary of Pollock agricultural implement makers. It is a great read: there is so much innovation and inspiration in every page.

Jimmy worked hard to celebrate the history and heritage of the business. He brought together a large collection of Pollock implements and machines, some from the late nineteenth century, for display at a range of celebratory events. They included the Ayr Show, the Highland Show and the Ayrshire Vintage Tractor Rally, and of course an open day at the Pollock works.

Jimmy will be missed by everyone.

With every best wishe to Effie, Alison, Robert, Iona and family.

Photo of Jimmy and Effie from the Cumnock Chronicle, 20 September 2020.


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.


Tripods for the hay and grain harvests

In the late 1920s and the early 1930s collapsible iron tripods started to appear on the hay and grain fields in Scotland as a way to try to help dry the crop and also act as a labour-saving device. They were developed by Alex Proctor of Blairgowrie and manufactured by Pedigree Flax Development Ltd. They became multi-award winning, for example by the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society which awarded them a silver medal in 1930, and the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland which awarded them £100 as part of its invention awards in 1934. This latter society regarded them as an “important improvement on the types of tripod formerly used. They had the advantage of durability and therefore of low depreciation. They were also able to be easily adjusted and were easy to transport and store.

By the early 1930s Mr Proctor took his invention around the country and arranged demonstration events. One was held at Seton Mains, Longniddry, East Lothian, in September 1933. Another demonstration was held at The Bent, Laurencekirk, in September 1935.

The tripod system was also widely advertised. The Perthshire advertiser of 28 August 1929 included an extensive advert:


Collapsing iron crop securing tripods for combining risk free labour-saving harvesting, and use as excellent stack centres or “bosses”

Broken weather threatens your harvest, and may destroy the quality of your grain and straw,

Ensure perfect condition of at least a portion of your grain crop by testing the well-tried Tripod Crop Securing System, first invented to secure in faultless condition valuable Pedigree Flax Sowing seed irrespective of harvest weather conditions.

Hay and grain can be securely ricked, hutted, or “frandied” if it is dry on the day it is cut.

Exposure on the ground or in stooks has been proved needless, and in broken weather very harmful.

Hay ricked dry, loose, lightly and narrow on the afternoon of cutting in 4-6 cwt ricks around the Proctor (Patent no. 312,102) Collapsable Iron Crop Securing Tripod preserves the valuable vegetable juices, is superior feeding, and weighs much more than hay secured by usual methods.

Only prime quality hay and grain will be got, even in a wet season, if instructions are followed, and farmers can also reduce their harvesting costs by use of these cheap, handy, strong tripods, which, in addition, make far better stack centres or bosses than the cumbersome, easily broken, and easily burned wooden ones now in use. If “lodged” grain is prematurely cut it will be found most advantageous to mature and ripen it in hollow centred “huts”, built upright around the tripods.

For pamphlets and particulars of and instructions for use, as well as prices, farmers should apply to any of the following agents:

John Doe Ltd, Errol, Perth & Dundee

Jas. Steele, Harrison Road, Edinburgh

Jas Gray & Co., Stirling

D. Irons & Sons, Forfar

J. Milne & Sons, grain merchants, Montrose.

Alexander Proctor, Blairgowrie, the inventor and patentee, or his representative, will also gladly reply to all enquiries, arrange demonstrations, and give assistance in demonstrating the Tripod Crop Securing System. Messrs Wm Bain & Co., Ltd, Lochrin Iron Works, Coatbridge, the manufacturing Concessionaries, have issued, and will continue to issue, a limited number of Tripods to farmers for demonstrations without obligation to purchase, and may quote special terms for large orders.

Neither the Tripod nor the Tripod Crop Securing System is experimental; it has already been proved a success, and the Northern Irish Ministry of Agriculture are closely following the development of this method of harvesting in Ulster, where the hutting of grain in solid huts is common practice.

Solid hits are usually futile, drying is slow and ineffective, and, like stooks, they frequently get blown over or their heads blown off entailing damage and much extra work.

Tripod built “Huts” are weatherproof, ventilated and indestructible.

Any farmers willing to consider growing Pedigree Flax in 1930 on tonnage basis at £1 per ton over price being paid in England, should communicate with Alexander Proctor, Blairgowrie. Phone 84.”

Did you ever use tripods?


Portable threshing machines in 1908

In a number of posts we have looked at threshing machines that were housed at the farm steading. Portable threshing machines were also also popular in some districs of Scotland, as also England.

Henry Stephens, the well-known agricultural writer, wrote about the use of portable threshing machines. He makes an interesting comparison between the threshing system in Scotland and England. His account is worth quoting at length:

“The portable form of threshing-machines prevails in England. As a rule, there is no threshing-machine of any kind in English farm-steadings. The threshing is done by traveling machines owned by companies or individuals, who may have several machines at work in different parts of the country at one time.

Several leading firms of implement-makers have given much attention to the manufacture of portable threshing-machines, and now the farmer has ample choice of machines of the highest efficiency. These portable threshing-machines are usually worked by steam traction-engines, which also draw them from one place to another. In some cases portable steam-engines are employed in working the machines, but then horses have to be used in taking the machine from farm to farm.

In a modern portable threshing machine, the operations of threshing, dressing, and bagging, all going on simultaneously. The machine is supposed to be working in the stackyard. The stacks of grain as they get filled have to be conveyed to the granary-but that is easily done.

The disposal of the straw entails more labour. It is usually formed into a large stack at the rear of the threshing-machine, and the conveyance of the straw from the shakers to this stack is, in most cases, accomplished by means of elevators, which can be lengthened and raised in the pitch as the stack increases in height.

The number of persons required to work these portable threshing machines varies according to the operations performed and the speed of the machine. Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies, point out that the economy of threshing must depend in a great measure on the proper distribution of the hands employed, and state that the force, when straw-elevators are not used, should consist of eleven men and boys, to be engaged as follows: “One to feed the machine; two to untie and hand the sheaves to the feeder; two on the corn-stack to pitch the sheaves on to the stage of the threshing-machine; one to clear the straw away as it falls from the straw-shaker; two to stack the straw; one to clear away the chaff from underneath the machine, and occasionally to carry the chobs which fall from the chob-sprout up to the stage, to be threshed again; one to remove the sacks t the back of the machine as they are filled; and one to drive the engine. The feeder, on whim very much depends, should be an active man, and should have the control of the men stationed near the machine. He should endeavour to feed the drum as nearly as possible in a continuous stream, keeping the corn uniformly spread over the whole width. The two men or boys who untie the sheaves should stand on the stage of the threshing-machine, so that either is in a position to hand the feeder a sheaf with ease, but without obstructing the other. The men on the stack must keep the boys or men on the stage constantly and plentifully supplied with sheaves, which must be pitched on to the stage, so that the boys can reach them without leaving their position. The main who removes the straw from the end of the shaker should never allow it to accumulate so that it cannot fall freely. The man whose duty it is to clear away the chaff and cavings from underneath the machine must not allow these to accumulate so as to obstruct the free motion of the shoes; he must watch the basket under the chob-spout, and as soon as it is full, empty its contents on to the stage, in a convenient position for the feeder to sweep the same, a little at a time, into the drum to be threshed over again. The man who attends to the sacks must remove them before they get so full as to obstruct the free passage of the corn from the spouts, otherwise the clean corn may be thrown out at the screenings-spout.

When a large quantity is being threshed at one time, additional hands may be required to take away and stack the straw. It is better to cart the sheaves to the threshing-machine than to shift its position in the stackyard. The engine-driver, during threshing, should be as prompt as possible in attending to the signals for stopping and starting, and he should carefully attend to the bearings of the drum-spindle and other spindles of the threshing-machine.

Steam or oil-engines are fast taking the place of horse-power in working threshing machines. Where the supply is plentiful, water still holds its own, and will continue to do so, for it is the cheapest of all motors for the purpose. But the horse-wheel is gradually disappearing, and, for threshing purposes, the windmill may be said to have gone.

The steam engine, in its various forms is suitable for farm work. Steam power possesses two important advantages: it is always at command and can be completely controlled. By the use of steam the threshing may proceed continuously as long as may be desired; while, except in the rare cases in which the force of running water is sufficient to drive the mill-wheel, the threshing for the time ceases with emptying of the “mill-dam”. Experience has abundantly proved that threshing machines dependent on water derived chiefly from the drainage of the surface of the ground, frequently suffer from a short supply in autumn, and late in spring or early summer, thereby creating inconvenience for the want of straw in the end of autumn, and the want of seed or horse-corn in the end of spring. Wherever such casualties are likely to happen, it is better to adopt a steam-engine or oil-engine at once.

The other advantage is also important. Water or horse power cannot be so nicely governed as steam or oil, and, as a consequence with these powers, irregularities in feeding-in the grain or variations in the length of the straw are apt to make the motion of the corn-dressing appliances irregular, which, of course, causes imperfect dressing.”

What a great account. It would be interesting to note what were the districts in Scotland where the travelling mill was prevalent.

The photographs were taken at Farming Yesteryear, Scone, September 2017.



A number of premises belonging to the Scottish agricultural implement makers went on fire. Some of the fires were very destructive with the complete loss of premises, or significantly affected production of manufactures.

The accounts of the fires in the newspaper press sometimes include detailed accounts of the premises and the businesses which are not recorded elsewhere. These accounts are worth quoting at length for the insights they provide.

The Scotsman provided an account of a fire of the implement works of James Gordon, King Street, Castle Douglas in its columns on 29 May 1911:

“Fire at castle Douglas

An outbreak of fire occurred at the implement works of Mr James Gordon, King Street, Castle Douglas, on Friday night. The fire was confined mostly to the engine-shed, in which were several barrels containing paraffin oil. These became ignited, and for a time the fire seemed to have a complete mastery, and the whole workshop was in imminent danger. The flames leapt to the roof, which was entirely composed of glass, and the glare attracted a large crowd. After much exertion the flames were got under, but not before considerable damage was done, the large engine-shed and glass roof of an outer building being demolished. The damage is covered by insurance.”

A destructive fire affected the Cragshaw premises of Barclay, Ross, & Hutchison, agricultural implement makers, Aberdeen in May 1920. The Scotsman of 10 May, suggested that the cost of the fire amounted to between £6,000 and £10,000. The Aberdeen press and journal provided a detailed account of the fire that provides detailed information about the company’s Cragshaw Works which were famous throughout the works – and not only in the north-east of Scotland:

“Big fire at Aberdeen Implement Works

Destruction put at £6,000.

The Aberdeen City Fire Brigade were out three times on Saturday. Their first call was in the early morning to a destructive blaze at Craigshaw, just beyond the city boundary at Torry, damage being done to the premises and stock there of Messrs Barclay, Ross, and Hutchison, one of the best known firms of agricultural implement makers in Scotland, to the extent of about £6,000.

The Craigshaw outbreak was observed between two and three o’clock in the morning, and it was only after about five hours’ hard work on the part of the members of the Fire Brigade that the flames were got under. The premises, which are situated close to the railway line, consist of a large range of buildings, including a corrugated iron structure 168 feet long, 30 feet broad, and 14 feet high. And a stone and lime erection 100 feet long and 46 feet broad. The corrugated iron building was practically gutted, while the other, particularly at the south end, was badly damaged. The buildings included a millwright’s shop, stores, offices, blacksmith’s shop, engineer’s shop, dressed wood store, etc.

It is not known how the outbreak originated, but it is thought to have started in the paint shop. The signalman on duty in the railway cabin beside the railway bridge at Craigshaw was the first to observe the outbreak. He immediately telephoned for the fire brigade, which was promptly on the scheme, under Firemaster Inkster. By the time the brigade arrived, however, the flames were bursting through the roof of the corrugated iron building, and by three o’clock the erection was practically ablaze from end to end.

The firemen devote d their energies to preventing the flames from spreading to the stone and lime structure. They were successful in saving the north end, but at the other end, which adjoins the corrugated iron building, the flames did considerable damage. It was not until seven o’clock in the morning that all danger was past. Two telegraph standards were badly damaged.

The works at Craigshaw were the largest of their kind in the north of Scotland. Threshing mills, manure distributors, oil engines, and a variety of other agricultural machinery and implements which were being prepared for the exhibition in the showyard of the Highland and Agricultural Society at Aberdeen in July were destroyed.

The damage is covered by insurance.”

Another fire was reported by the Dundee courier, on 22 July 1925. It affected the Culthill Agricultural Implement Works, Caputh, owned by Messrs J. D. Allan & Sons, one of the important Perthshire makers:

“Farm fire near Caputh

Extensive damage to implement works

Agricultural show exhibits destroyed

Extensive damage was caused by an outbreak of fire which occupied at a late hour last night at the Culthill Agricultural Implement Works, Caputh, owned by Messrs J. D. Allan & Sons.

Culthill is on the well-known estate of Glendelvine. The fire was discovered by one of the workers in a field on Culthill Farm, tenanted by Mr J. D. Allan, who is also sole proprietor of the implement works. He observed smoke issuing from nearby, but at first thought it was cattlemen burning some rubbish.

On closer inspection, however, he found that the smoke was issuing from the wood department of the works, and immediately summoned Mr Allan. Mr Allan had retired to bed, but on being roused and seeing the danger, proceeded to Glendelvine, and had the Glendelvine hose and hydrant attached to the estate supply.

By this means Mr Allan an several willing workers prevented the flames spreading to byres and other adjoining premises.

Perth Fire Brigade were summoned by the chauffer at Glendelvine House, and were on the scene within half-an-hour of the alarm. The principal damage is caused to machinery and parts of agricultural implements in course of preparation.

Mr Allan was in attendance at the Highland Show last week and had secured, it is understood, a considerable number of orders, and had in course of preparation seventeen carts intended for sale and for exhibition at the forthcoming Perthshire and Angus Shows.

Timber stock saved

A large and valuable stock of seasonal timber was fortunately saved from the flames. Much alarm was caused for a period because of the congested nature of the buildings. Mr Allan employs about fifteen hands and in recent years had developed an extensive business.

The Brigade obtained a plentiful supply of water from a dam about eighty yards distant, and speedily had the flames under control.

The damage, which is only partly covered by insurance, is estimated at fully £1,000.”


Additional help at harvest time from the dealers

In the 1950s and early 1960s when farmers were changing their harvesting systems and there a number of difficult harvests, implement dealers were aware of the need to ensure that they had sufficient stock of new machines. In 1954 and 1960 we find such dealers advertising additional stock, and encouraging farmers to buy second hand machines. They include A. & J. Bowen & Co., Ltd, Markinch and John Doe Ltd, Errol:


Owing to the difficult harvest conditions we have taken into stock some extra McCormick P. D. Binders, B.45 pick-up balers, B.64 straight-through combines.

Phone Markinch 266/7

A & J. Bowen & Co., Ltd, Markinch” (Dundee courier, 15 September 1954)

“John Doe Ltd, agricultural engineers and implement dealers Errol, near Perth. Telephone: Errol 213.

Make a difficult harvest easy by investing in one of our seasonal bargains

Massey 735 combine, cut only 150 acres £150

International B64 combines. Engine drive, choice of 3, £100, £185, £225

International B45 baler with diesel engine £325

Masset 6ft power drive binders, choice of 2 £95

S/H tractors

1957 International B250 tractor £310

1950 Ferguson V.O. tractor £160” (Oban times, 13 August 1960)


Buying a combine from Barclay, Ross & Hutchison in 1952

A number of dealers advertised the sale of combine harvesters in 1952. One of them was Barclay, Ross & Hutchison Ltd of Aberdeen and Forfar. The business was advertising during the harvest season and after it ended. On 7 August it advertised Massey-Harris 726 Combine Harvesters as well as a range of seasonal implements and machines. It considered that the combine was a cost effective machine for the farmer, enabling him or her to secure maximum yield. It also encouraged farmers to purchase them. On 4 December it placed an advert in the Dundee Courier noting their availability and encouraged farmers to consider one even out of season. The advert suggests that Massey Combines were in short supply.

“Anything for farm or dairy

We can supply

Seasonal equipment in stock includes

Lister 30-foot hay and straw elevators.

We have a few for immediate delivery.

Albion power and trailer binders, 5-foot and 6-foot cut.

Mil hydraulic much loaders for Ferguson tractors and Massey-Harris muh spreaders

The name is guarantee enough.

Massey-Harris, Bentall, and Fyna hammermills.

Save money by grinding your own feeding stuffs.

Boilers for pig feeding.

Nu-way grain dryers.

Installed for less than £400.

Massey-Harris 726 Combine Harvesters.

Order one now.

When grain prices are low, secure maximum yield at minimum cost-use a Combine.


Barclay, Ross & Hutchison, Market Street, Forfar.

Phone 548.”

“Early winter may not be the time for combine harvesters-BUT-will they be available when you do think about them!

We are informed by Massey-Harris that their range of famous Combines is already nearing the “booked-up” stage.

There are still a few available and you can choose from:-

No. 780-12ft self propelled combine-tanker

No. 726-8ft 6 in self propelled combine- tanker

No. 726-8ft 2 in self-propelled combine – bagger

No. 750-5ft 6 in training model combine-bagger

Why not order your “Massey” Combine now and gain financial benefit in two ways:-

1. By the generous out-of-season discounts and storage allowances, and

2. By investing your money in a really first-class Combine harvester.

Full particulars from Barclay, Ross & Hutchison Ltd., Market Street Forfar. Phone 548/9”


Advances in harvesting the grain crop in the 1820s: the Hainault scythe

In 1825 the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland was aware of developments in harvesting technologies to cut the grain crop on the Continent. The Flemish or Hainault Scythe was an implement that was an intermediate between a sickle and a scythe. It had the potential to make grain crops easier to harvest. A number of trials were arranged across the country. The Society sent out a questionnaire to find out about its use and how successful it was.

The following are two extracts from these trials. They describe the implement, how it was used, how it fared at the trials and advantages of this implement.

Fife herald, 25 August 1825

“Hainault scythe-East Lothian, August 17-The two individuals whom the Highland Society have brought from Flanders, for the purpose of exhibiting the use of the Hainault scythe, arrived at Haddington yesterday, and immediately commenced cutting down part of the crop on the farm of Aimsfield Mains. They repeated, again, again, their operations, at the same place, to-day; and, upon each occasion, were witnessed by a considerable number of the proprietors and tenantry of the county. The Hainault scythe is about eighteen inches in length; and in breadth, strength, and materials, resembles the common grass scythe of the country. It has a perpendicular wooden handle of about thirty inches in length, and bent at the extremity, so as to fit the arm. The blade requires frequent sharpening. In the left hand of the workman, is held a light slender rod, upwards of tree feet in length, terminated with an iron hook about four inches long; and which is dexterously used, to prevent the stalks of grain straggling in the process of cutting, as well as in collecting and lifting the grain when cut. The workmen use the scythe with the right hand only, cutting down the grain with a succession of sweeps towards the standing body of it, and advancing and retiring about six feet, to collect a small sheaf. The two individuals appeared to be stout, athletic, and expert workmen. They cut a portion of the different kinds of grain in a most satisfactory manner, leaving the stubble short, and relatively clean of dropt stalks, and the grain laying in regularity for the burden. In two hours and a half, they cut down a quarter of a Scots acre of very luxuriant and valuable wheat; complaining, however, a good deal of the stones upon the surface of the ground; and they appeared heated with exertion. I was told by M. Masclet, an intelligent agriculturist, and who acted as an interpreter to the workmen, that three individuals with the Hainault scythe could cut down two English acres of wheat per day; and at this rate of cutting, one scythe-man is equal to two of the most expert British reapers. But, judging from the exhibition we have had here, I think he has over-rated the performance of the workmen. Much however depends upon the kind of workmen the Highland Society have brought over; and if they are first-rate ones, I have little doubt but three good reapers, with scythe-hooks, will cut down as much wheat as the two Flemings could do, making the stubble equally short, though certainty not so free of dropt stalks. Cutting grain with the Hainault scythe appears to be, under almost every circumstance, less labourers than doing so with the hook or sickle; and, from the growing crop entirely supporting the weight of the cut grain, until it is collected together, it must be decidedly so when the crop is very luxuriant; and to such crops I think it is particularly applicable. If the surface of a field presents many small protuberances, or has a considerable inclination, such as the side of a hill, it would be difficult and unadvisable to use the Hainault scythe. A thin and short crop would not afford sufficient resistance for the Hainault scythe to act against, nor sufficient support to the cut grain before it is collected together; and I think it quite inapplicable to such crops in almost any situation; and if the wind happened to blow strong during the tine of cutting, half the crop would be scattered to and from. I have no doubt but that in Britain, where the crops are seldom very exuberant, the cradle-scythe, in the hands of an expert workman, will be found a very superior implement to the Hainault scythe. But upon an uneven or hilly surface, the hook or sickle is preferable to either of them-Correspondent in the Star.

The reapers having arrived at Kelso on the evening of the 18th, arrangements were made for a short trial next day, to suit the convenience of farmers attending the market; whilst Saturday the 20th was set apart for putting the abilities of the reapers to a full and fair test. Accordingly, on Friday afternoon, the use of the instrument was exhibited for about an hour, on Mr Dudgeon’s farm of Spylaw, to a very great concourse of spectators, all of whom appeared to take a most lively interest in the scene, and to derive much satisfaction from it. Next day the reapers were again upon the same ground about 10 o’clock, and proceeded to work an hour on a very heavy crop of barley. They cut 726 square yards, which, on a day’s work of ten hours, is at the rate of three-fourths of an English acre to each reaper. The ground was rather stony, and some impediment from the crowd was unavoidably sustained, otherwise, as asserted by the reapers, they would have done at the rate of an acre each at least. At first several binders tied and set up the sheaves; thereafter one man undertook the task, and performed it, but he declared he could not have gone on throughout the day, and it was evidently too much for one of the best workers to accomplish. The next trial took place upon some very light oats, and it certainly proved that the scythe was quite effectual on crops of that description, a fact which was very generally doubted. As there happened to be no wheat ready for cutting on Spylaw, the next and third trial was made upon a field of wheat near Kelso; a very fair crop, and the ground free from large stones. The day being far spent, the time was limited toa. Quarter of an hour, and the result was 212 yards, or at the rate of one acre and three-fourths, English measure, per day of ten working hours; and here again the obstructions from the crowd were very considerable. The whole corn taken down was cut closer to the ground, and cleaner than by the sickle. Three of the best reapers, with the sickle, cut an English acre per day, making also bands for the sheaves; but five are often found scarcely equal to the same work. These experiments were witnessed by a committee of the Highland Society, a Committee of the Union Agricultural Society, and a number of proprietors and eminent agriculturists; and at intervals, a number of intelligent and active workers, who had been brought forward for the purpose, were allowed to use the scythes, and received instructions from the Flemings; and many of them showed considerable expertness.-The two young Flemings are sons of farmers in French Flanders, and they allege they cannot do so much work as the labourers in their own country, who depend solely for subsistence on their daily toil.-Kelso mail”

Caledonian mercury, 5 September 1825

“Second exhibition by the Flemish reapers, in the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire

The experiment took place this day, in a field close to the village of Carnwath, occupied by Norman Lockhart, Esq and lately reclaimed from moss; it was quite level and free from stones, though the bottom was very thick and close, the clover being very strong. Here the two reapers cut at the rate of 1 acre, 3 roods, 30 poles, in a day of 10 hours, being within a fraction of an acre each.-The work was done to the astonishment of all the practical farmers, many of whom had come there quite sceptics on the subject. As some doubt had been suggested as to the effect of the implement on hilly grounds, a small portion was cut in the face of the Gallowhill, which was considered to be done even in superior style, if possible, to the level field. Some very thin oats were also tried, and even here it surpassed the expectation of the farmers, though, of course, it is not the field for the superiority of the Hainault scythe being exhibited. Several farmers came from a great distance to witness the exhibition, and so satisfactory was the result considered, that a subscription was entered into after leaving he field, and considerable premiums have been announced for the most successful competitors with this implement next season. The smith and farrier at Ravenstruther, patronised by the Local Agricultural Society, has taken the model for the best implement, and several have been already bespoke. The Highland Society are entitled to the thanks of the country for this new proof of their attention to its interests; and the company present on both occasions expressed their best acknowledgements to the gentlemen who so kindly procured so interesting an exhibition in the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire. After partaking of an ample collation, Monsieur Maselet and the two reapers proceeded to Glasgow, to exhibit in Renfrewshire to-morrow.

The exhibition to-day was again superintended by a Committee of the Highland Society of the Local Agricultural Association, and by a great concourse of spectators, who evinced the utmost anxiety to witness the exhibition; but who, at the same time, kept with wonderful precision without the line pointed out. Several young men took lessons, and we have no doubt that the implement will be adopted in many situations in the district by another year.

Lanark, August 26, 1825

The Flemish reapers exhibited at Cardonald on Saturday. The trials which have been made in this country are differently estimated by different people; some thinking the short scythe an improvement, while others consider the hook as the better implement. At Carnwath, the Flemish reapers cut five stooks in twenty-five minutes; or at the rate of sixty stooks each in ten hours, provided they had been able to exert themselves so long. The stubble was shorter than in ordinary shearing, but the sheaf was not so neat.-Glasgow chronicle”