Learning about combine harvesters and their associated practices in the early 1950s: demonstrations and other activities

In the early 1950s farmers and agriculturists were learning about combine harvesters and their associated grain handling technologies in a number of ways. While some of these were informal, others were formal. Formal ones included trials and exhibitions, farm visits, and agricultural shows. A number of these were advertised in the agricultural press at this time. They are worth seeing as they show the wide range of ways that farmers and agriculturists learned about and engaged with this new technology.

Visits to the manufacturing works

“Machars Young Farmers

Twenty members of the Machars (Wigtown) Young Farmers’ Club travelled to Kilmarnock on Thursday where they had the privilege of being conducted on a sightseeing tour of the Massey Harris Works. Mr Rodgers of Messrs J. and R. Wallace, Castle-Douglas, had charge of the party who, on arrival at the works were given a snack before commencing their tour. They were then conducted over the building where they inspected the various types of machinery, including combine harvesters and tractors in their different stages of assembly. They also visited the showrooms where they saw the large implements such as the pick-up baler, tractor, and mower and trailer, and had these explained to them. At the close of their party were entertained to afternoon tea in the restaurant. Altogether the outing was most instructive and enjoyable. (Galloway gazette, 6 December 1952)

Talks by the dealers


The famous 726 Combine Harvester

The 701 pick-up baler-a worthy follow-up.

An informal, intimate, instructional talk will be given by the manufacturer’s service engineer, Mr Arnold Shepherd, on the operation and constructional features of these machines on Thurs., Feb 14 at 1:30pm, at the works of:-

J. B. W. Smith, Ltd, Cupar.

Main agents.

Owners, present and prospective, are invited to bring along their operators and discuss their problems.” (Dundee courier, 8 February 1952)

Demonstrations in the field

“Notice to farmers …

John M. Wyllie

Agricultural Merchant

Baldoon Stores, Wigtown

Demonstration of a Combine Harvester

At Baltersan, Newton-Stewart (by kind permission of G. Dunlop esq), on

Tuesday, 26th August, 1952

The demonstration will be on a field on Barley. Weather permitting the Combine will be in operation all day, and the Pick-up Baler in the latter part of the day. A Nu-way Drier can be se seen in operation at Baldoon by those interested.

Note: If raining, demonstration will be on next suitable day.” (Galloway Gazette, 23 August 1952)

The Galloway gazette of 30 August 1952 carried an account of that display:

“Interesting demonstration at Baltersan

An interesting demonstration of an Alice Chalmers combine Harvester at work was given on a field on the farm of Baltersan, Newton-Stewart, on Tuesday, by kind permission of Mr George Dunlop. The demonstration, which was arranged by Mr John M. Wyllie, agricultural merchant, Wigtown. Took place on a field of barley and the Combine, which was in operation all day, was seen cutting the barley and threshing it in one operation. A large number of people paid a visit to the demonstration during the course of the day and were greatly fascinated with this splendid labour saving device. It had also been hoped to demonstrate the Pick-up Baler at work but on account of the weather being unsuitable it was not possible to put it into operation.”

Film shows

“Grand film show

Central Hall, Friockheim

Wednesday, 8th October, at 7:30pm

In conjunction with the Esso Petroleum Co., Ltd., we are giving a grand film display of great interest to all tractor, combine harvester and machinery users.

There will also be some comedy features for the kiddies, so be sure to bring the family along.

Tea will be provided.

G. A. Ross & Co., Union Street, Friockheim

Phone 285-6.” (Arbroath Guide, 4 October 1952)

“Films on grain drying

The first of a series of film shows on grain drying took place in Hotel Seaforth on Monday night. There was a large attendance of farmers and others associated with agriculture. The film has been produced by Scottish Oils and Shell-Mex, and is being shown by Scottish Agricultural Industries.” (Arbroath Guide, 12 January 1952)

An account of the attendance at the film shows on grain drying was published in the Dundee courier of 23 January 1952. It states:

“Grain drying is occupying the minds of farmers.

The practice of combining increases every year, and in Angus alone during 1950 the combine harvesters were increased by 40.

A film on the subject has been shown by Scottish Agricultural Industries in Angus, Perthshire, and Fife. Six shows were attended by 800 farmers. With this increase in combines there is a demand for grain drying and storage plant.”