Angus implement and machine makers in the 1920s

Local agricultural shows were an important place for agricultural implement and machine makers to exhibit their manufactures. One of these shows was the Angus Show at Brechin, held in early August each year. Local newspaper such as the Montrose Standard and the Dundee Courier provided detailed accounts of the show, and importantly what was included in the implement department. They reveal who were the key exhibitors as well as makers and agents in the district as well as what they were exhibiting. They also show what were the latest implements and machines. 

Here are some accounts of the highlights of the implement department at the Angus Show: 

1921 show (Montrose standard, 5 August 1921) 
“A strong feature of this year’s Angus Show at Brechin to-day (Thursday) is the display of implements and agricultural requisites. The excellence this department or the show is unprecedented and of great educational value.
Messrs A. Simpson & Son, motor, marine, and agricultural engineers, Montrose, Brechin, and Forfar, show the famous Austin and Glasgow tractors, which are now established as permanent adjuncts in the equipment of numerous up-to-date farmers. The Messrs Simpson are the agents for leading manufacturers of many farm implements, &c. They are, besides, the proprietors of a large engineering establishment. In addition to the tractors referred to they are exhibiting Sellar, Oliver, Cockshut, and Massey Harris tractor ploughs; Newlands’ cultivators, Sellar grubbers and disc harrows; Petter’s junior, Lister and Detroit portable and stationary engines; and Delco and Willy’s house-lighting sets. The stand is a feature of the show and all the exhibits are attractively arranged and of outstanding merit.” 

1923 Show (Dundee courier, 25 July 1923)
“The Angus showyard, in the estate of Hillhead, Kirriemuir, which has been under construction for a few weeks, will be completely fitted in good time for to-morrow’s great carnival.
The showyard is an extremely well-planned and commodious enclosure.
Mr Alex Bain, the architect, and his efficient staff of workmen were busily engaged yesterday putting things in final shipshape order, and the exhibitors of implements and machinery were actively employed receiving and arranging the exhibits at their stances.
The showyard extends to 16 acres, which is just 10 acres less than it occupied by “The Highland” at Inverness, and the penning accommodation to meet the huge entry of live stock exhibits, notably in the horses, cattle, sheep, and pigs classes, is ample and very accessible. 

In the implement yard, which is within 20 yards of the main entrance, there are to be seen a great variety of exhibits from leading Forfarshire firms. 
Bruce & Robbie Ltd, Forfar, are exhibiting Massey-Harris binders and Massey-Harris drills. These machines are specially designed to meet the most advanced ideas in modern farming, and Messrs Bruce & Robbie have supplied numerous customers with specimens which have given unqualified satisfaction. The firm already holds two gold medals for implements given by the Angus Society.
Alex Shanks & Sons Ltd, Arbroath, exhibit types of their famous oil engines. The Shanks oil engines are familiar to engineers and farmers alike. The firm can supply the 19/21 b.h.p. horizontal stationary oil engine with all accessories complete (price £195); 8/9 b.h.p. horizontal stationary oil engine with all accessories complete (price £105); and 3 1/2/4 b.h.p. petrol-paraffin engine (price £57 10s), types of which are on exhibition and sold at “The Highland”.
Peter Small, engineers, Forfar, have a splendid variety of agricultural machinery very well shown. The firm supplies International Junior tractors, ploughs, disc harrows, cultivators, grubbers and binders, various types of engines, threshing mills, mowers, horse rakes &c. The exhibits, indeed, embrace most of the finest specimens of machinery required in the most important branches of up-to-date farming.
Up-to-date implements
James Cuthbert & Co., Arbroath have a very attractive selection of exhibits, embracing latest types of up-to-date agricultural implements. They are the products of makers whose manufactures give never-failing satisfaction. The selection includes excellent specimens of the latest in ploughs, cultivators, diggers, grain drills, binders &c. Messrs Cuthbert & Co., are noted for the high-class nature of their ironmongery and seeds.
Harry Johnston, 8 King Street, Dundee, who had a most interesting stand at the Highland Show, which was very well patronised, will receive many visitors to his equally fine display at Kirriemuir of tools of all descriptions. The exhibits are of the best material, and embrace all the essential tool required in the home or farm, at the bench, and for the car. Tradesmen of all kinds can see much to interest them at this stand. 
Charles Lyon, ironmonger, Kirriemuir, is showing a large variety of implements and utensils required at the farm. The exhibits include binders, potato diggers, manure sowers, ploughs, churns, cream separators, and other indispensable parts of farm equipment. The exhibits are to be safely recommended for the up-to-dateness of their type and certainty to please purchasers. 
Ploughs and threshing machines
David Irons & Sons, Forfar, to meet the requirements of their large clientele keep in stock the best and latest types of labour-saving agricultural machinery. Their numerous exhibits at their Angus Show stand include cultivators, potato diggers, ploughs, threshing machines, &c-all of the most improved type and the best productions of the various makers. This stand should be visited by every progressive agriculturist.
Ednie & Kinninmonth, Forfar, show an extremely varied selection of implements of outstanding merit, and all specially made to meet present-day requirements. There are to be seen Walter A. Wood binders, &c, Jack’s manure distributors and potato diggers, churns, and separators. The firm can also supply all kinds of ironmongery, together with binder twine, stack and binder covers, &c.
R. G. Begg, 200 Strathmartine Road, Dundee, exhibit threshing machines, corn bruisers, and oil engines of the latest and most up-to-date designs. The machines of all descriptions which this firm can supply are of superior workmanship, only the best material being used in their manufacture. There will be on view types of machines and engines which they have supplied to the satisfaction of their numerous customers. 
Tractors and mills 
Ford & Graham, Broughty Ferry, the well-known firm of agricultural, electrical, and automobile engineers, have at their stand Petter paraffin and crude oil engines, Case tractors, and Crichton’s threshing mills. The firm have fitted up many of the celebrated Strichen mills in various parts of Forfarshire and other counties. The fitting up is invariably as perfectly done as the machines are perfectly made.”

1924 Show (Dundee courier, 29 July 1924) 
“A feature of the Angus Show at Montrose to-morrow will be the implement yard. Many of the exhibits of agricultural machinery, &c, were on view at the Perth “Highland”, where firms, generally speaking, were well pleased with the business done.
Peter Small, Forfar, are exhibiting a specimen of the new International Junior Tractor, just out this season; threshing mill by Messrs Barclay, Ross & Hutchison, Aberdeen; engines, pumping plant, self-propelled turnip cutter, binders, horse rakes, manure distributors, potato digger &c.
Barclay, Ross & Hutchison, Aberdeen, have a display of the latest types of agricultural implements. This firm specialises in the production of threshing plant of the most up-to-date construction, and their exhibits at both the Perth Highland and the Royal Northern shows attracted, as they will at “the Angus”, much interest. 
D. Irons & Son, Forfar, are showing the Westphalia manure machine, Deering New Ideal binders, and a general collection of agricultural implements. Messrs Irons always exhibit the latest types of machinery and implements at these annual shows, and their stand at Montrose is more attractive and interesting than ever.
Ednie & Kininmonth, Forfar, are showing a large and varied collection of up-to-date agricultural implements. The exhibits are of the highest class of workmanship, and embrace the very finest and latest types of implements now demanded by up-to-date and progressive farmers.
Arbroath firm
James Cuthbert & Co., Arbroath, the well-known form of ironmongers, seedsmen, and implement agents, are exhibiting a large variety of up-to-date agricultural implements from the leading makers. These include binders, ploughs, grain drills, cultivators, manure distributors, scarifiers, potato planters and diggers, mowers, horse rakes, stack and binder covers &c. 
Bruce & Robbie Ltd, Forfar, will be showing specimens of the Massey Harris binders and Massey Harris drills. As a former Angus shows, the firm will display, in addition, a complete collection of farm tools. Bruce & Robbie Ltd, have been awarded three gold medals for implements by the Angus Society. 
D. & J. W. Lackie, Montrose, will have on exhibition a varied collection of agricultural and domestic hardware. The exhibits are of superior manufacture, and are displayed to the best advantage. This stand is well worth a visit from both town and rural visitors to the show.
Alex Shanks & Son, Ltd, will, as usual, display some of the latest types of the engines which have made their name famous throughout the country. They are equally well known for the production of mowers of the most up-to-date pattern, which have been supplied to customers far and wide.” 

1925 show (Dundee courier, 30 July 1925)
“Visitors to Angus Agricultural Association’s annual show at Forfar to-day will find an extensive collection of agricultural machinery and implements of the most up-to-date description shown by leading firms in the county.
Messrs James Cuthbert & Co., Arbroath, are exhibiting a large variety of high-class implements from the leading makers. They include binders, ploughs, grain drills, cultivators, manure distributors, scarifiers, potato planters and diggers, mowers, horse rakes, stack and binder covers, &c. Messrs Cuthbert & Co., carry on a very extensive business as ironmongers, seedsmen, and implement agents.
Messrs D. Irons & Sons, Forfar, always has one of the most interesting exhibitions at these annual popular shows, and progressive farmers will find the stand this year more attractive than ever. The firm is displaying an extensive selection of farm machinery. The exhibits are of the very best and latest types, and special attention is directed to the Westfalia manure distributor, for which there has been a great demand.
Specimens of the famous Shanks oil engines, produced by the noted farm of Messrs Alex Shanks & Sons, Arbroath, will be seen at the show. This firm have supplied types of their latest engines to farmers all over the country. Their two stands at the Highland Show at Glasgow the other week were visited by agriculturists from far and near. A large number of orders for their engines was received on that occasion.
Messrs Ednie & Kininmonth, Forfar, are exhibiting a large collection of useful and up-to-date agricultural implements. They are the sole agents in Forfarshire for the “Albion” binder, for which they have received numerous inquiries. They are also district agents for Jack’s implement manure distributors and potato diggers. At the stand there are also being shown Lister’s churns and separators, binder twine, &c.
Mr Peter Small, engineer, Forfar, has a most attractive and interesting collection of high-class exhibits. These include the McCormick power-drive tractor binder, which has been awarded silver medals at the Royal Show at Chester and the Highland Show at Glasgow this year. The binder will be shown in motion, coupled to a new International junior tractor. Mr Small will also be exhibiting latest types of implements of various kinds.
Bruce & Robbie Ltd, Forfar, have a large and varied collection of implements and machinery, amongst which are specimens of the famous Massey-Harris binder. They are also exhibiting the artificial manure sower, which is a new implement that was awarded the silver medal at this year’s Royal Show. It is simple and efficient, and sows from 1 to 20 cwts of “supers” or any other manure. In addition, there is a complete collection of farm and garden implements.
Mr David Ritchie, blacksmith and implement maker, Forfar, has on view here field fodder waggon and sheep-dipping tank and dripper, poultry houses, galvanised field cake, troughs, improved potato bagger, &c. The exhibits are all of superior quality, and Mr Ritchie extends a cordial invitation to farmers to call and inspect them for themselves. The stand occupies a prominent position in the implement yard.
Messrs G. & J. Fitchet, millwrights and engineers, Gighty Burn, by Arbroath, invite orders or inquiries. The Messrs Fitchet are makers of threshing and dressing machines of the latest improved designs. They also supply sheaf elevators, straw carriers, chaff blowers, and grain conveyors of various types. Orders received will have prompt attention.” 

1927 show (Dundee courier, 19 July 1927)
“Few county shows in past years have equalled the Angus in its display of implements, manures, and general requirements of the farm, and this year finds the enterprising agricultural merchants of Forfarshire staging displays which will hold practical interest for all agricultural visitors, and in some directions for the public in general as well.
James Cuthbert & Co., Arbuthnot, who have already won so many premier awards at the Angus, show their ability to cater for every farming need in their display of binders, rakes, cultivators, and other implements, stack covers, and dairy requirements.
Messrs Ednie & Kinninmonth, Forfar, are featuring in a generally excellent display of farm implements the “Mollison Improved” potato digger, Lister’s churns and separators, the Albion binder, Jack’s potato digger, and a selection of harvesting requirements. 
In these days when an increasing number of farmers are taking up dairying, the separators, coolers, cisterns, cans, churns, butter workers, and bottle, shown by the Balgownie Dairy Engineering Department, Aberdeen, should prove of special interest to visitors.
Messrs Bruce & Robbie, Limited, Forfar, will have their usual all-round display of implements, and will feature a new manure distributor, which should prove of interest to their already wide clientele in Central Forfarshire. 
The name of Messrs David Irons & Sons, Forfar, has long been associated with satisfactory catering for the implement and other needs of Angus farmers. To-morrow they will have the Deering binder as a feature of their stand.
The mention of lawn mowers conjures up thoughts of Messrs Shanks, of Arbroath, and in modern times this firm is become almost as inseparable associated with the up-to-date oil engines.”


Hanson’s potato digger of the mid 1850s: an important forerunner of the spinner digger

The world of potato harvesting was changed in 1855 with the development of Mr John Hanson’s potato digger. In essence, this was the forerunner of the potato spinner that became the most widely used machine for digging the potato harvest until after the Second World War. Mr Hanson’s machine was the subject of a number of trials in that year and in the following ones. While it was seen to have both advantages and disadvantages over the potato plough, in following years it started to become more widely adopted and seen as an important machine for the raising of the crop. 

The following newspaper articles set out the different phases of the introduction of this important machine, from the early trials, through to its early adoption and more widespread used and acceptance by farmers: 


Potato digging machine (Fifeshire journal, 15 November 1855)
A trial of a potato digging machine took place on the farm of Athelstaneford, New Mains (Mr Douglas’), on Monday last. The machine is invented and patented by Mr John Hanson of Doagh, Belfast. There were a number of the agriculturists of the neighbourhood present, among whom were Mr George Hope, Fentonbarns; Mr Robert Scott Skirving, Camptoun; Mr Reid, Drem; Mr Oliver, West Fortune; Mr Scott, Beanston; Messrs Tod, Castle Mains; and Mr Binnie, Seaton Mains. The day was good, and the machine, under the superintendence of the inventor, progressed steadily-digging one drill at a time, and scattering thoroughly out the tubers. The work was very satisfactorily done, few, if any, of the potatoes being injured or left unexposed by the process. The machine is of very simple, although of ingenious construction, and is worked easily by a pair of horses. It has a broad sock or elevator for penetrating the drill and raising the dung and tubers, which are scattered out regularly to the right by the revolving plate at the end of the machine, to which are attached forks. The motion of the sock us got by the draught; the other by two bevel wheels on the axle of the wheels of the carriage, which give motion to the revolving plate; it has also attached a screen or guard for confining the scattering of the tubers to a space of three or four feet, which allows of their being gathered with greater facility. In digging with this machine it is not necessary to cut or pull the tops of the potatoes, which forms such a formidable item of expense when taken up to prepare for the plough. Considering a very efficient job can be made of 2 ½ Scotch acres of crop per day by a pair of horses with ease, Mr Hanson’s potato differ cannot but be regarded as a great auxiliary in potato lifting. – North British Agriculturist

Trial of Hanson’s potato-digger at Earnside (Inverness courier, 14 August 1856) 
A trial of this newly-invented implement for lifting potatoes, was made on Mr Kay’s farm, at Earnside, on Saturday last, The machine is drawn by a pair of horses, with a draught about equal to the common plough. The wheels, about three feet high, run one on each side of the drill that is to be dug up. An iron plate fixed like the sock of the common drill harrow passes under the drill when the machine is set in motion, and a prolonged wheel with twelve spokes strikes the loosened drill cross-wise and throws the potatoes and earth to the right side, leaving the potatoes exposed on the land. The experiment was completely successful, and a number of the agriculturists who were present expressed their satisfaction with the result, and orders were given to the patentee for several of the diggers. The machine will dig about three acres per day, and when in fiull operation will require twelve hands to glean after it. – Forres Gazette 

Early introduction and use 

Perthshire (Fife herald, 12 November 1857)
Hanson’s potato diggers have been at work in the district; but the large anticipations of their utility are scarcely being realized. Besides the excessive draught, the necessity of gathering, before the return of the machine, the scattered crop of each drill tossed over a yard or two is found to be inconvenient, whether as regards the needful superintendence or the proper arrangement of carts. The saving of the gatherers’ finger-ends is doubtless considerable; but the saving of expense if doubtful. 

More general use and acceptance 

Article from the Mark Lane Express on harvesting the potato crop (Orkney herald, 20 October 1863) 
… Hanson’s potato-digger is a very effective machine for casting them abroad out of the rows; it also at the same time does good service to the soil, by throwing abroad the row so effectively that all is spread ready for the harrow, and not a semblance of a potato row is to be discerned. The chief drawback to its more general use if the heavy draught; it can scarcely be properly worked by a pair-horse team throughout the day; otherwise, it is most effective. 

The best method of lifting and storing the potato crop (North British Agriculturist, 9 October 1872)
At the monthly meeting of the Haddington Agricultural Club, held on Friday last … Mr Douglas said “It is generally very well understood by the growers in this country, judging from the experience they have had in the matter;” but he believes that, of the modes for lifting potatoes, “Hanson’s potato-digger is the cheapest and best.” The principal objection to Hanson’s digger is its weight, as it almost always requires three stout horses, yoked abreast, to work it. There are, however, improved potato-diggers on the same principle as Hanson’s, which are less oppressive to the horses.”

By 1875 the Hanson potato digger was made by John Wallace & Son, agricultural implement makers, 7 Graham Square, Glasgow. It had secured an improvement in 1874 which it patented (3 July 1874, no. 2322). (NBA, 12 May 1875)

When you see potato spinners in preservation, think about the importance of the Hanson potato digger which provided a strong impetus for the development of mechanical potato harvesting in the second half of the nineteenth century.


Harvest home

Harvest home used to be an important part of the farming year: it was a celebration at the end of harvest to celebrate its ingathering. 

There were a number of traditions associated with the end of harvest. One was the cutting of the last sheaf. This was sometimes called the “clyack sheaf”. The Banffshire journal and general advertiser of 25 September 1900, noted the practice around this: 
“At the close of the reaping the “clyack” feast was and still is held. The last sheaf of corn cut is known as the “clyack sheaf”. There used to be much rivalry amongst those on the harvest field with regard to this sheaf; for it was considered an honour to cut, gather, or bind it. At the feast the chief dish was the “meal and ale”, a composition of oatmeal and ale, into which a liberal supply of whisky had been stirred. This dish was partaken of by all, and the object was to secure a ring and button which had been secreted into the dish. The person who secured the ring was expected to enter the bonds of matriomony before the following harvest, or at least to be married before any of the unmarried persons partaking of the dish along with them. The individual who fished out the button was expected to be a bachelor or old maid. The feast was followed by song and dance.”

Even more important was harvest home, when all the harvest work, included all the stacking of the sheaves in the stackyard was completed. These were large festivities, continuing well into the night (or the wee hours), sometimes bringing together the workers and families on a number of farms in a district. Some farms were well known for their harvest homes. According to the Banffshire journal and general advertiser of 25 September 1900: “a liberal support was provided, and all made a merry night of it. This feast is a relic of very ancient times. There might be a week of such feasts, as every farmer in a district must celebrate the feast in his own account. These feasts after harvest are not so strictly observed at the present time as they were, but relics of them in a modified form still exist.”

Newspapers sometimes recorded the festivities at these harvest home celebrations. The following extracts are from newspapers in Banffshire from the 1890s when the practice and tradition of the harvest home was still strong, and an important part of the farming and social year. 

Enzie-Cairnfield hravest home (Banffshire journal and general advertiser, 27 October 1891)
The annual harvest home festival at the instance of Mr and Mrs Gordon of Cairnfield in connection with the ingathering of the harvest took place with all the eclat befitting the occasion on Wednesday last. There was a large gathering, including all the servants and their friends, all of whom assembled in the commodious dining hall, where a sumptuous supper was served-presided over by the much respected farm manager, Mr Alex Dean, who, in happy terms, proposed the health of Mr and Mrs Gordon, which was duly honoured, and a similar compliment to both Master Stewart Gordon and Miss Emily Rose. The heartubess with which the toasts were responded to showed the genuine respect and admiration in which the genial laird of Cairnfield is held by the employees. About nine o’clock, the company-numbering 30 couples – adjourned to the laundry, which was beautifully decorated, and dancing was kept up with great enthusiasm to the “wee hours ayont the twal.” Excellent music was supplied by Messrs Grant, Buckie, and Dean, Homie. Songs and recitations were given by Johnston, Gordon, and Inglis. Mr Grant, Cairnfield, acted as master of ceremonies. Before parting, Mr Allan, Broom, in an appropriate speech, thanked Mr and Mrs Gordon in the name of the company for the liberal manner in which they had treated them. Three hearty cheers were given. 

Alvah (Banffshire journal and general advertiser, 3 October 1893) 
On Thursday evening, on the invitation of Mr and Mrs Livingston, about fifty couples met to celebrate the harvest-home at Newton of Mountblairy. The spacious loft at the farm was set in order for the occasion, and by nine o’clock the company was dancing merrily to the stirring strains of Messrs James Andrew R. Paterson, and Miss Ward, Hill of Mountblairy. The cheers given again and again, as the company broke up, testified to the esteem in which Mt and Miss Livingston are held in the district. 

Aberlour – Harvest home (Banffshire journal and general advertiser, 31 October 1893)
On Friday night, Mr Findlay of Aberlour entertained all the hands about the farm, gardens, grounds, and estate workmen to an excellent supper and dance. Covers were laid for 100. Mr Findlay occupied the chair, and, after the usual loyal and patriotic yoasts, he proposed the employees on the estate, and stated that, taking them all over, he had reason to be highly satisfied with their services. Mr Alcock, factor for Mr Findlay, replied, and said that certainly they, the employees, were fully satisfied with Mr Findlay as employer, and that the servants of all kinds throughout the estate were so pleased that Mr Findlay, jun, was now almost recovered from the severe illness which he had. The other toasts were Mr Findlay, by Mr Fleming, banker; Mrs Findlay, by Provost McGowan; the Croupiers (Mr Duncan and Mr Bisset), by Mr John Sim; Mr Findlay, jun; by Dr Sellar. Dancing was carried on with great spirit up to about 1am. The young ladies from the house as well as Mr and Mrs Findlay graced the dancing-room with their presence for some hours. 

Harvest home (Banffshire journal and general advertiser, 2 October 1894) 
The annual harvest hone at Tochieneal was held on Friday evening. Dancing was engaged in and kept up with much spirit till an early hour in the morning to music by the Reidhaven Band, Cullen. Mr Henderson discharged the duties of MC. 

Aberlour (Banffshire journal and general advertiser, 16 October 1894)
Harvest home at Aberlour Home Farm
The crop at the Home Farm was secured in excellent condition last week, and the annual harvest home festival was given by Mr Findlay to those engaged on the farm, to the estate employees, and some invited guests on Friday evening. About a hundred sat down to supper, which was presided over by Mr Findlay, who was supported by Mr Alcock, factor of the estates, Mr Bisset, gardener, and Mr Mitchell, grieve, acting as croupiers. After the loyal and patriotic toasts, the Chairman proposed that of the employees, stating that one and all had given entire satisfaction, and that the utmost good feeling existed between them. Mr Mitchell, grieve, briefly responded. Other toasts followed. Supper over, the party adjourned to the granary, where dancing was engaged in throughout the night to stirring music supplied by Mr McAdam’s band. Before breaking up, the company, on the vote of Mr Alcock, returned their hearty thanks to Mr Findlay for his kindness. 

Harvest home at Miltonduff (Banffshire journal and general advertiser, 16 October 1894) 
On Wednesday evening, the tenants and employees on the Miltonduff and Aldroughty estates were, along with a few friends, entertained to a harvest home at Miltonduff Distillery by Mr and Mrs Stewart, as, in some measure, a celebration of the recent marriage of the Laird of Miltonduff and Aldroughty. The occasion was regarded with feelings of the greatest enthusiasm by about 150 guests, who were pleased to have the opportunity of meeting their laird, Mr Stuart, and his young wife under such happy auspices. About nine o’clock Mr and Mrs Stuart arrived from Aldroughty House, and soon willing hands unyoked the horses and dragged their carriage, preceded by a piper playing a lively tune, to the scene of the gathering amid great cheering. On Mr and Mrs Stuart entering the ballroom, they were again received with much enthusiasm, and the dancing proceeded with renewed vigour to the stirring strains of Messrs Sutherland’s fine band, relieved at intervals by the bagpipes. Supper, purveyed by Mr Austin, Elgin, was laid out in another apartment. At supper, Mr Stuart occupied the chair and proposed the usual loyal toasts. Mr Cook, Muiryhill, proposed Mr Stuart’s health of Mrs Stuart being proposed by Mr Tulloch, Batehen. Both toasts were enthusiastically honoured. A very happy evening was afterwards spent. 

Alvah (Banffshire journal and general advertiser, 10 October 1899)
Through the kindness of Mr and Miss Livingston, an enjoyable harvest home was held at Newton of Mountblairy on Friday. The servants were privileged to invite all their friends and neighbours, and the spacious loft was quite filled. Liberal refreshments were served from time to time during the dance, and on the call of votes of thanks loud and prolonged cheers were given to the kindly entertainers. 

Upper Cabrach (Banffshire journal and general advertiser, 31 October 1899) 
The Upper Cabrach harvest home ball was held in the school on Friday, when about sixty pupils were present and enjoyed a hearty dance, which was continued to the small hours of the morning. The arrangements, which were complete, were in the hands of a capable committee, including Messrs Alex Gordon, Gauch; William Bruce, Gauch; William Beattie, Powneed; William Kellas, Hillhead; J. Law, Post Office, Mr Beattie acting as secretary and MC. Excellent dance music was supplied by Messrs Gordon, Bruce, Gillan, Thomson and Nicol. 

New Aberdour (Banffshire journal and general advertiser, 13 November 1900) 
A large company met in the Parish Hall on Thursday to witness a cinematograph exhibition which was greatly enjoyed, Afterward a harvest home dance was held when excellent music was provided by Sim’s band from Strichen.


Royal Highland and Agricultural Society demonstrations of binders in the 1890s

The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland played an important role in encouraging the development of agricultural implements and machines, exhibiting them and arranging trials and demonstrations of them. In the 1890s the Society also arranged working demonstrations. These were for binders. This was one of the only times in the history of the Society that it arranged demonstrations rather than trials. They were not competitive and awards were not given. They were arranged to give farmers and agriculturists the opportunity to see these machines at work. 

These exhibitions were undertaken in different locations throughout the country. These were usually in the different show districts where the show was in attendance. 

The following are a number of accounts of these exhibitions. They set out how the exhibitions were arranged, and describe how they worked in sometimes trying conditions with twisted and flattened crops. 

Exhibition in Midlothian in 1893 (from Elgin courant and Morayshire advertiser, 22 August 1893) 
“On Wednesday last an exhibition of binders at work was held under the auspices of the Highland and Agricultural Society at Niddrie Mains, Liberton, near Edinburgh. The exhibition was not a strictly competitive one. No awards were given, but a committee of gentlemen who acted as stewards made a report to the Society, in which they embodied their observations regarding the performances of the various machines that were at work. The committee consisted of Messrs Jonathan Middleton, Clay of Allan, Ross-shire; Geo. R. Glendinning, Hatton Mains; J. T. Paterson, Grange Loan, Edinburgh; and A. S. Logan, Fernie Castle, along with whom there was Mr Park, the Society’s engineer.
The following is the jurors’ preliminary report: “We have pleasure in reporting that we carefully watched the working of the eleven binders that came forward. They were in the first place tried in a field of oats which was cut into plots of one acre each. Lots were drawn by the competitors for the different plots, and care was taken to make the trial as even as possible to all. The oat crop was very rank, and badly laid and twisted. The test was therefore an exceedingly severe one. Indeed much of the crop was so badly laid and twisted that it seemed hardly likely that either the binder or the reaper could possibly make passable work in it. In these circumstances it is peculiarly gratifying to be able to say that upon the whole the work of cutting and binding was done in a satisfactory manner-better cut, most probably, than it would have been by the ordinary reaper. Very little fault could be found with either the cutting or binding. Most of the machines had difficulty in separating the one sheaf from the other, on account of the rank, tangled condition of the crop, yet, even in this respect, the majority of the machines did surprisingly good work. The crop could be cut only in the direction, and in most cases the work was slowly done. The plots in the field of oats having been finished, all the machines, excepting the “Jonson Harvester”, was tried in an adjacent field of barley. The crop of barley was not rank, but it was much laid and twisted. The quantity of the work done here was throughout of the most satisfactory character, so nearly perfect, indeed, that the most fastidious farmer could find little fault with it. This great success with the barley is all the more noteworthy and gratifying that, when examined by a large committee of experienced farmers a fortnight ago, the crop on this field was so much laid and twisted that it was thought unlikely that any competitor would attempt to cut it either with a reaper or binder. It should be explained that the Kearsley binder, having come late into the field, cut only about half of its plot of oats.” 

Exhibition of binders in Aberdeenshire (from Aberdeen press and journal, 5 September 1894) 
“Yesterday an interesting exhibition of binders at work, under the auspices of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, took place at the farm of Middlefield, Woodside, occupied by Mr Reith. Most of these machines were exhibited at the show of the society at Aberdeen in July last, and in the implement catalogue of the show it was stated that such an exhibition would be “held in Aberdeen district in the approaching harvest at a place and on a date to be afterwards fixed.” The arrangements having been thus early made, exhibitors had ample time to get ready their machines and secure their horses and men. As indicated in the catalogue, no judges were appointed, and no awards will be made, but the stewards were to have power to test the draught of each binder and otherwise scrutinise its working” as they might consider desirable, and to make observations for incorporation in an official report of the exhibition. In these circumstances there was really no competition between rival makers, the object of the society being mainly to give farmers an opportunity of witnessing and judging for themselves the work of the different machines. The weather was eminently suitable for the occasion, except that towards the close rather heavy rain fell, and partially interrupted the operations. The crop to be operated upon was a large field of barley on ground sloping from west to east. The crop was by no means heavy, and, indeed, was considering anything but a severe test for the machines, the exhibitors of which would have preferred a heavier and stiffer crop. The test, it was stated, was not nearly so severe as that which was undergone at Edinburgh last year. A good many farmers are busy with their own harvest just now, and though the attendance yesterday was very good, it was not so large as might have been expected. Mr James Macdonald, the secretary of the Highland Society, who had made all the preliminary arrangements in a very careful manner, was early on the ground, and in the course of the forenoon Sir James Gibson Craig, chairman of the directors, visited the field and took the liveliest interest in the exhibition. The committee of the society in charge of the operations were Messrs Jonathan Middleton, Clay of Allan, Ross-shire; George R. Glendinning, Hatton Mains, Wilkieston, near Edinburgh; assisted by Mr John Marr, Cairnbrogie, director; and Messrs G. J. Walker, Portleithen; and James Hay, Little Ythsie, extraordinary directors; with Mr Park, the society’s engineer.
In all, 14 entries of machines had been made, but three of them were withdrawn, these being a pony binder from Messrs Main, Edinburgh, otherwise exhibited; and entries from Samuelston & Co., Oxon; and William Smith & Son, Aberdeen, both of whom, however, had still one entry each. In addition to those in the catalogue was an entry by Messrs B. reid & Coo., who showed a Massey Harris binder, with a new invention by the exhibitors, consisting of a wooden instead of a canvas conveyor, this travelling platform consisting of a series of narrow strips of hard wood actuated by means of a chain. There were thius 12 binders on the field. It was intended that operations should begin at nine o’clock, but it was an hour later before a start could be made. The ground was divided into half-acre plots as nearly as possible, portions of the crop having been previously cut to allow the machines to operate. Four machines were started at a time at the portions of ground marked off, and each machine was furnished with the number of the entry in the catalogue, so that it could be easily distinguished during the exhibition. Plot no. 1 was set apart for no. 9 of the catalogue, a machine exhibited by Messrs W. Reid & Leys, 8 Hadden Street, Aberdeen, described in the catalogue as :Low-down open end Deering pony binder, fitted with ball and roller bearings; made by W. Deering & Co., Chicago.” The second plot was set aside for no. 7, shown by A. Newlands & Son, Implement Works, Linlithgow, which is described as a “harvesting binder, open end, with transport made by Geo. Kennedy”. The third plot was appropriated to Messrs J. & H. Keyworth & Co., 35 Taileton Street, Liverpool, who exhibited the “Adriance” rear discharge binder, with low platform and all latest improvements, made by Adriance, Platt & Co., New York. Plot no. 4 was set apart for a machine by Messrs Harrison, Macgregor, & Company, Limited, Albion Ironworks, Leigh, Lancashire, for whom Mr Garvie and Messrs George Bruce & Co., were the local agents. The entry no. 3 is described as “Sheaf-binding harvester, the Albion”, similar to another exhibited (no. 2), but with extra arrangement for closing the end when required. If fitted with small sheaf carrier for holding the sheaf while turning corners an extra charge is made. The fifth plot was set apart for no. 15, a Brantford no. 3 Binder, made by Massey, Harris& Co., with this difference, that the carrier or conveyor for carrying the sheaf to the binding apparatus, instead of being formed of a sheet of canvas is formed, as already indicated, of splints of wood a short distance apart from each other, actuated, as already mentioned, by a chain. Plot 6 was appropriated to no. 2 of the catalogue-one of Messrs Harrison, McGregor & Co’s machines, which is thus described in the catalogue:-“Sheaf-binding harvester, the “Albion”, constructed chiefly of steel and malleable iron, with open end and several important patented improvements, combining strength and durability, lightness of draught, convenience of operation, and perfection of work under all conditions of crops; made by exhibitor”. Plot no. 7 was set apart for a machine shown by Samuelson & Co., Limited, Britannia Works, Banbury, Oxon, who showed an improved string sheaf-binding harvester with steel frame, large travelling wheel, very light in draught, and fitted with steel and iron welded fingers. Plot 8 was set apart for a machine by Messrs J. Bisset & Sons, Blairgowrie, for whom the local agents are Messrs Cardno & Darling, Aberdeen. It is briefly described in the catalogue as “Bisset, new patent, open back, steel-built binder”. Plot 9 was appropriated to no. 12 of the catalogue, a “McCormick Bindlochine” rear discharge, low down, made by McCormick & Co., Chicago, exhibited by William Smith & Son, Exchange Seed Warehouse, Aberdeen. Plot 11 was set apart for no. 4, a machine shown by Richard Hornsby & Sons, Limited, Spittlegate Ironworks, Grantham, for whom Messrs George Bruce & Company, seedsmen, Aberdeen, are the local agents. It is described as follows-No 12 B, new patent light draught steel frame sheaf-binding harvester, adapted for use with open or closed back, as may be described, to suit variation of crops; fitted with Hornsby’s new patent sheaf separator for more effectually dealing with laid and tangled crops. Plot no. 12 was set apart for Brantford no. 3 binder, made by Messrs Massey, Harris & Company, exhibited by Messrs B. Reid & Company, Bon Accord Works; and plot no. 13 was appropriated to an open-end harvester and binder, with three aprons and transport attachment, with bundle carrier extra. It was shown by Messrs Wallace A. Wood & Company, 36 Worship Street, London, EC, whom Messrs Sellar & Sons, Huntly, are the local agents. 
As one set of four machines completed its task it was followed by another set, and in this way the work was methodically and expeditiously accomplished. No test of the machines was made by means of the dynamometer, but the committee made careful note of the work of the machines with reference to the cutting, the size of the sheaf, the manner in which it was bound, and other points. They examined the machines while at rest and in motion, and the driver of each machine was asked to alter the size of sheaf in order to show how each could do the work. Each machine has merits of its own, and the general opinion expressed by farmers and others was that all had done exceedingly well. Each did the work allotted to it more or less satisfactorily, but some had stiffer bits of crop than others where the grain was particularly laid and twisted. There was not very much of this, however, and taking everything into account the work was very well done. One of the machines that specially attracted the attention of stewards and others was the Massey-Harris machine, with the conveyor of strips of wood, already mentioned. It is the invention of Mr Anderson (B. Reid & Co.) and one of his staff, and has been patented. As already indicated the committee made no awards, and expressed no opinion on the respective merits of the machines. After the machines had completed their allocated tasks, they one after the other reaped the portion of the field that was yet uncut, so that Mr Reith had the satisfaction of seeing the entire field of barley in stook. The whole of the exhibitors deserve credit for their work, and it was evident that all concerned did their utmost to make the exhibition a success.” 

Exhibition of binders near Perth (from Dundee advertiser, 19 August 1896)
“A trial of self-binding reaping machines was held yesterday under the auspices of the Highland Society on the farm of North Muirton, near Perth, tenanted by Mr John Morton. The proceedings might be termed more of an exhibition than a trial, as no prizes were given, and no order of merit was announced at the close of the day. The Society Stewards in charge of the exhibition were Messrs Jonathan Middleton, Clay of Allan, Easter Ross, and J. R. Glandinning, Hatton Mains, Midlothian, Mr J. D. Park, the official Engineer, being associated with them. A Committee of local Directors was composed of Mr W. S. Ferguson, Pictstonhill; Mr Andrew Hutcheson, Beechwood; Mr R. Paterson, Hill of Drip, Stirling; and Mr Dun, Easter Kincaple, Fifeshire; Mr James Macdonald, Secretary to the Society, being on the ground, to take general note of proceedings. Ten machines had been entered, and nine were forward. These were-the “Bisset” new patent open back steel-built binder, made and exhibited by Messrs J. Bisset & Sons, Blairgowrie; the “Bonnie” binder, driven with steel chain, made by the Johnstone Harvester Company, New York, and shown by Messrs Blackstone & Co., Stamford; the Adriance rear discharge binder, of New York, make, shown by Messrs James Gray & Co., Stilring; the Albion new patent machine, made and exhibited by Messrs Harrison, McGregor & Co., Limited, Leigh; the Hornsby harvester, shown by the makers, Messrs Richard Hornsby & Sons, Limited, Grantham; the Samuelston new patent low down harvester, from the works of Messrs Samuelston & Co., Limited, Banbury, Oxon; the “Elevator” binder from the same firm, with three canvas arrangement; the Massey Harris open end binder, of Brantford make, and shown by Messrs john Wallace & Sons, Glasgow; and the Walter A. Wood open rear harvester, of well-known American make. There was a fair attendance of agriculturists during the day. Among those on the ground were Hon A. D. Murray, Ardgilzean; Mr Macduff of Bonhard; Mr R. Anderson, Balbrogie; Mr Hay, West Cultmalundie; Mr Robertson, Blackhaugh; Mr R. Hope, Huntingtower; Mr Pople, Newhouse; Mr McLaren, Windy Edge; Mr McFarlane, Southfield, Abernyte; Mr Robertson, Balthayock; Mr Whitton of Couston; Mr Lover, Dean Park, Edinburgh; Mr E. Fairweather, Clashbenny; Mr Wilson of Messrs Watt & Co., Cupar; Mr H. Martin, Flowerdale, Collace; Mr W. B. Stephenson, Broombarns; Mr John Graham, Kildinny; Mr Gardiner, East Mill, Auchterarder; Mr Westwood, Dalreoch, Dunning; Mr A. Macduff Duncan of Kirklands; Mr Thomas Hollimngsworth, Powgavie; Mr Hume, Rossie, Dunning; Mr Fenwick, Broadleys; Mr D. Peddie, Forteviot; Mr P. Scrimgeour, Balboughty, Scone; Mr Bruce, Rosefield, Balbeggie; Mr T. S. Thoms, Benvie; Mr Hay of Hay & Co., Perth; Mr Scott, Shielhill, Stanley; Mr Grahame, Scones Lethendy.
Work was started about ten o’clock forenoon in a splendid 21 acre field of oats. A good deal of the crop was more or less laid and twisted, the field thus putting the machines to a very real test. In the morning plots of one-third acre each. In extent were balloted for, and a start was made under fairly good conditions. There was a little dampness owing to the rain on Monday night, but nothing to speak of. The cloths of the machines were affected to some extent during the first half hour or so, but as the sun gained in strength the draught of the machines lightened very considerably. All the machines had cloths. It is evident, therefore, that these arrangements are not played out, although a good deal has been heard of the sparred substitutes. Six of the machines, it may be noted, made left-hand cut, and three the right-hand cut. After a mid-day interval the machines were set in file round the remaining square of grain. This was the most interesting and, upon the whole, the most instructive part of the proceedings, as there was no question of luck in the business. The machines, with one or two exceptions, made a very good job of the stubble. Two or three were somewhat heavy in draught, one or two were decidedly noisy-too much of the “craw ratle” order-a small proportion were a little faulty in sheafing, and most of them showed slight imperfections in delivery. Upon the whole the favour of the unofficial “bench” on the ground went in greatest measure to the Bisset and Walter Wood machines. The former made a good all-round job, and was specially meritorious at the stubble and insheafing; the latter delivered remarkably well, and appeared to be light in draught. The Adriance made tidy work in cutting and sheafing, and worked sweetly. It might possibly be seen to less advantage on an extra heavy crop. Men on the ground also favoured the Hornsby a good deal, also the Albion and the Massey Harris. These are good machines. The forthcoming volume of the Highland Society Transactions will contain notes on the exhibition from the stewards and the engineer. The trials were very interesting, but if the draught of the machines had been tested the results would have been more valuable. It is by no means an easy matter to make fair tests of draught in one busy day, but it might be sone. 

In 1901 the exhibition of binders by the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland was abandoned. According to the Elgin Courant, and Morayshire Advertiser of 30 July 1901 this had “been brought about by the fact that the majority of the leading binder firms refrained from entering machines for the trial, an action on the part of these firms that is much to be regretted.”

The photographs were taken at the Strathnairn Farmer’s Show.


Trials of binders in north-east Scotland in the 1890s

Trials were an important way to demonstrate new agricultural implements and machines in a district. They were usually arranged by local or regional agricultural societies, though the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland also played an important role in organising them. They enabled the societies to bring together a number of machines from a range of makers to compete against one another and demonstrate how they compared to one another. They let farmers and other agriculturists see the merits – and otherwise – of a variety of them before purchasing one for themselves. Trials could also be social affairs, attended by the leading farmers of a district and concluded with a dinner.

Trials were especially important for letting farmers and agriculturists see innovative implements and machines at work. Trials included ones for binders and other harvesting machinery, as well as double furrowed ploughs, and tractors. 

In the 1890s a number of local trials were held in the north east to demonstrate binders. They were made by societies such as the Northern Agricultural Society and the Morayshire Farmers’ Club. 

The following are two accounts of local trials held in the 1890s. They give a full account of how they are arranged, attendees, how they worked, and social activities. They highlight the novelty of the binders. 

Trial of binders at Inverurie (from The Aberdeen Journal, 8 September 1890) 
“The Northern Agricultural Society, with its usual energy and anxiety for the furthering of the aim of its existence-the promotion of agricultural interests-this season organised an exhibition of binders, which took place on Saturday on the farm of Lofthillock, Inveruris, fields on which were kindly placed at the disposal of the Executive by Mrs Philip. It was originally intended to hold the exhibition on the farm of Balhaggardy, but the serious illness of Mr Maitland, sen., rendered that proposal impossible. The weather was beautifully fine, and a large number of leading agriculturists assembled to witness the display. Amongst those who attended were:- Messrs Mackie, Petty, Fyvie; Forrest, Castle of Auchry, Monquhitter; George Wilken, Waterside of Forres; Cruickshank, Comisty; Cocker, Hill of Petty; Bruce, Collithie; Bean, Balquhain; Burr, Tulloford; Morrison, Hatton Slap; John Milne, Mains of Laithers; Gall, Smiddyburn; G. A. Duncan, manager, Messrs G. W. Murray & Co., Banff; Mackintosh, Aberdeen; Turnbull, Smithston; Law, Lochead; France, of Messrs Cardno & Darling; Adie, late of Lenabo, Longside; Davidson, Mill of Clola; Thompson, Haddo, Methlic; Walker, Tillygreig; Stewart, Knapperna; Hugh Wilson, Milton of Noth; Kiloh, Ard,urdo; Tait, Crichie; Mitchell, Lairshill; Harper, wire merchant, Aberdeen; Glashan, Fawells; Durno, Jackston; Durno, Mains of Glack; Moir, Shadowside; William Black, Kinermit; and Bruce, Myreyon &c. The various machines exhibited were as follows:-Buckeye Banner, by Mr Alexander, Glasgow; the McCormick, by Mr William Reid, Aberdeen; Wood’s Standard, Wood’s Single Apron, The Brantford, and Brantford with front wheel, by Messrs Ben Reid & Co., Aberdeen; Bisset’s binder, with front wheel, by Messrs Cardno & Darling; and Hornsby & Son’s Royal Society Binder. Mr George Bruce, secretary of the society. Had all the arrangements for the exhibition carried out with his usual carefulness and foresight, and in his efforts to secure the success of the exhibition he was ably assisted by the following members of the Executive Committee:- Messrs Ranald Macdonald, convener; Strachan, Saphock; Grey, Balgove; Adam, land surveyor, who were assisted by Messrs H. Macgregor (of Messrs Harrison Macgregor), and Littlejohn, Whitemyres. At the outset the binders were tried on a field with a steep incline for the purpose of testing to the full their capabilities, and also with the view of allowing an opportunity to those in charge of the respective binders to explain the merits of their entries. After ample time had been given for this the machines were removed to a field of larger dimensions, where about half an acre was allotted to each. The work was accomplished in a creditable manner by each, the cutting being clean, the stubble left being comparatively short, and the time occupied being anything but prolonged. It would, however, be somewhat invidious to give details of the operations, more especially in view of the fact that the Executive had not at their command a dynamometer to test the draught of the various machinery. Suffice it to say that the satisfactory work in each case was favourably viewed by the spectators. Here it may be mentioned parenthetically that this is the first exhibition of the kind ever held in connection with the Royal Northern, and that it is the only one of the kind held this year in the kingdom. That the display marks a step in the right direction will not be doubted when it is remembered that agricultural implements are generally relegated to an inferior position in the showyards of live stock, and that consequently inventors and engineers do not get the place to which they are justly entitled in the agricultural world. In addition to the binders, several manure distributors were exhibited. These were the Strawsonizer, and a couple of machines invented by Mr Davidson, Mill of Clola. These implements commanded considerable and favourable attention. On leaving the field the executive and their friends adjourned to the Kintore Arms Hotel, where Mrs Annand purveyed an excellent repast. At the social board Mr Ranald Macdonald presided, and Mr George Bruce acted as croupier. On covers being removed, the loyal and patriotic toasts were pledged. 

The Chairman then said it was very difficult, indeed, to exaggerate how much the farmer was indebted to the inventors and makers of agricultural implements. Without the aid of these, farmers would be very much handicapped. He went on to say they had implement makers in Aberdeen who were not only known in this country, but who were known all over the world. A good many of them present knew Mr George Reid, who was one of the originators of the firm of Messrs ben Reid & Coy, and he was glad to say that those who succeeded to that firm had kept up its reputation. (Applause)
He coupled the toast with the name of Mr Anderson, who replied. 
The Chairman then explained that it was not the intention of the committee to publish a report. Mr Bruce had written to the Royal English Society for the use of its dynamometer, but it had not been sent, and consequently no fair criterion of the work could be obtained.
Mr Garvie gave “The Royal Northern Society”, and paid a high compliment to Mr Bruce for the great interest he showed in the affairs of the association. 
Mr Bruce replied, and in doing so said the farmers in the district made his work easy by the interest which they took in the society’s affairs. He also referred to the kindness shown by Mrs Philip in granting the use of her fields, and to the trouble to which the grieve on the farm had put himself to make the exhibition a success. He begged to propose their health. 
The sentiment having been pledged, other toasts followed, including the health of the chairman.” 

Morayshire Farmers’ Club, trial of binders (from Aberdeen press and journal, 23 August 1897) 
“On Saturday a trial of binders took place on a farm of Carswell, at Alves Station, under the auspices of the Morayshire Farmers’ Club. It is a great many years since a trial took place of reaping machines took place in connection with the club, and, of course, since the binders came into favour there has not been any competitions. The display undoubtedly provoked the greatest interest among the farmers, not only in the county of Moray, but much further afield, with the result that there was a very large attendance. Ten machines entered, bit it was found that three of them were duplicates entered by different agents, so that only seven were forward. Two Albions were entered for the competition. One of them was to have shown a sheaf carrier, but it was not put on. The three competing were the two Albions and the Adriance. They put themselves into competition for an award of merit by the judges. With regard to the other four they were merely only on exhibition, and a report is to be made by the judges to the club upon the merits of the different machines. The club will be entitled to make any use of the report afterwards. 

The judges were:- Messrs R. C. Morton, C. E., Errol Works, Errol, Perthshire (mechanical experts; James E. Colvin, farmer, Manbeen; A. Trotter, farmer, Garguston; James Brown, farmer, Miltonhill; John Simpson, farmer, Spynie. 
The field for the work was most admirable for the easy working of the machines. It was level, the soil was firm, and there were very few stones. The crop cut was oats. It was fairly heavy, and pretty even all over, while it stood beautifully up to the machines. In order, however, to have given the farmers an opportunity of seeing the machines work under adverse circumstances, it would have been well of some of it and been lying and twisted. As it was the conditions were so favourable in every respect that the machines were able to do their best work, and were not able to be shown under conditions which unfortunately not unfrequently occur through the untoward influences of high wind and wet weather upon a heavy crop. Neither was there an opportunity of witnessing how the machines-which, judging from their size, must be a considerable weight-would act in wet land where their weight would make them liable to sink. As it was the result of the trial will be a “boon in binders”. A good opportunity was offered for fine work, and full advantage was taken of it. All over the result was remarkably good, and there was nothing but praise on all hands as to what had been accomplished. The farmers watched the proceedings with the greatest interest, and not a few have resolved to have a binder. It was a good idea to have the trial so early, as those wishing to get machines can yet secure them in time for the bulk of this season’s work. All things considered the trial was eminently satisfactory, and the secretary of the club, Dr Black of Sheriffston, deserves the greatest credit for the excellent way in which he carried out the arrangements, along with a committee consisting of Messrs John Knight, Kintrae; Hugh Robertson, Balnageirth, Forres; Macall South, Shampston; and Maclkessack, Asleisk.
The following are the details of the entries: 
Agent-Anderson & Bowie, Elgin-Albion Binder (2)
Agent- James Gray & Company, Stirling- Adriance
For exhibition
Agents-George Sellar & Sons, Huntly-Woods.
Agent-R. Forbes, Woodhead,-Bissets
Agent-George Bruce & Company, Aberdeen-Hornsby
Agent-W. Law & Company, Elgin-Massey Harris
The proceedings commenced at ten o’clock, and were concluded-including preparing machines for removal from one field to another, and cutting a piece in which they all followed each other-before two o’clock. The field was one of 40 acres, which was divided in the middle. About 20 acres altogether were cut. Each machine was allotted a plot of about two acres. The Bisset binder finished the work three minutes within the hour, and the others followed in quick succession. At the close, the judges stated that they had not yet prepared their finding as to the winner in the competition, and of course the report on those present for exhibition will be made to the club, so that meantime their findings cannot be made known. It may be mentioned that Messrs Ben Reid & Co., report a great demand for the Massey Harris, for which they are agents in the north. Three of them have just been supplied for three farms-Muirhead, Hempriggs, and West Grange-in the Forres district, and at present so keen is the demand that it is impossible to meet it.”


Displenishing sales in Aberdeenshire in 1941

The Aberdeen press and journal was an important newspaper for advertising displenishing sales for Aberdeenshire and the north-east of Scotland. Auctioneers placed adverts in it, usually a short time in advance of a sale, noting where and when it would take place and the name of the auctioneering company undertaking it. They also often listed the names of farms and the dates of sales well in advance. Most of the sales took place before the May and November terms (Martinmas), with the latter month being the most important. 

Regardless of the auctioneer, the adverts had a similar format in the way that they listed the implements and machines for sale. They usually start with the carts, followed by either the ploughing and cultivating implements or the harvesting ones. Then there are the 
“indoor” implements and machines associated with the barn and farm steading. They usually conclude with the miscellaneous items or the hand tools. 

The adverts in The Aberdeen press and journal on 28 April 1941 suggest that they were for small farms, still using horse rather than tractor power. They comprise the main types of implements and machines expected to undertake work, though there is a predominatly greater number of hand tools than on larger farms. There is an emphasis on turnip rather than potato culture. 

Quarrylea, Whiterashes 
Implements – 2 sets pony harness, stone roller, box cart with tops (rubber tyres), pony rake, drag rake, box barrow (rubber wheel), peat barrow, single plough, set iron harrows, ladders, rakes, forks, graips, posts, mail, picks, wire stretcher, bench, vice, paraffin drum (10 gallons), portable boiler (20 gallons), feeding troughs, pigs’ box, netting wire, fencing wire, scythe, corn chest, barrels, chicken coops with runs, lanterns, brooder, and all minor tools and implements, 5 portable poultry houses. 

Brooms, Lethenty, Inverurie
Implements -3 sets cart and plough harness, odd harness, Deering binder (almost new), Deering mower (almost new), 2 box carts with tops, long cart body, horse rake, grubber, 3 sets iron harrows, set wooden harrows, chain harrows, broadcast, metal and stone rollers, drag, S. T. harrows, shim, 2 single ploughs, 2 D. B. ploughs, turnip hasher, barn fan, yokes and swingletrees, steelyard and weights, bushel and straik, ladders, rope yarn, box barrow, posts, and all the usual minor tools and implements. 

East Camaloun, Fyvie
Implements etc-2 box carts with tops, 2 long carts, spring cart, gig, 2 sets cart and plough harness, odd harness, Massey Harris binder, broadcast, set iron harrows, set wooden harrows, grubber, S. T. harrows, chain harrows, shim, stone roller, metal roller, turnip sower, single plough, D. B. plough, steelyard and weights, sack lifter, bushel and straik, barn fan, box barrows, turnip hasher, feeding troughs, Paraffin drum, horse rake, ladders, rope yarn, and all minor tools and implements; 4 portable poultry houses, chicken coops, etc. 

Neilsbrae, Fintray 
Implements -2 box carts with tops, new pole grubber, drag, spring tooth, iron harrows, chain harrows, single ploughs, drill ploughs, Albion binder, mower, horse rake, turnip sowing machine, metal roller, stone roller, shim, barn fan, weighing machine and weights, bushel, barrows, ladders, turnip hashers, sculls, 2 sets cart and plough harness, drag and hand rakes, rick nets, coir yarn, ladders, posts, wire strainer, stack cover, feeding bins and troughs, hay knife, netting wire, pig box, 5 portable poultry houses, chicken coops, feeders, water fountains, grindstone, bench, scrap metal, picks, scythes, spades, forks, graips, hoes, shovels, brushes, happers, single-barrelled gun, yokes and swingle trees, and the usual assortment of minor farm tools. 

Westhall, Kincardine O’Neill
Implement – 3 box carts, long cart body, drag, sporing tooth, single plough, D. B. plough, iron harrows, shim, 2 stone rollers, binder, reaper and rake, horse rake, turnip sowing machine, barn fan, weighing machine and weights, 2 sets cart and plough harness, fencing posts, wire and wire netting, sack barrow, box harrow, 2 peat barrows, grindstone, ladders, hasher, pulper, sculls, troughs, barrels, wire strainer, 3 poultry houses, Ferret hutch, Gloucester Incubator, 2 indoor hoovers, foster mother, happer, scythes, forks, picks, spades, shovels, hoes, graips, rakes, cross-cut saws, yokes, and swingle trees, and the usual assortment of minor tools. Chicken raising houses and other rearing facilities are also noted.

Brooms, Lethenty, Inverurie
Implements -3 sets cart and plough harness, odd harness, Deering binder (almost new), Deering mower (almost new), 2 box carts with tops, long cart body, horse rake, grubber, 3 sets iron harrows, set wooden harrows, chain harrows, broadcast, metal and stone rollers, drag, S. T. harrows, shim, 2 single ploughs, 2 D. B. ploughs, turnip hasher, barn fan, yokes and swingletrees, steelyard and weights, bushel and straik, ladders, rope yarn, box barrow, posts, and all the usual minor tools and implements. 

East Camaloun, Fyvie
Implements etc-2 box carts with tops, 2 long carts, spring cart, gig, 2 sets cart and plough harness, odd harness, Massey Harris binder, broadcast, set iron harrows, set wooden harrows, grubber, S. T. harrows, chain harrows, shim, stone roller, metal roller, turnip sower, single plough, D. B. plough, steelyard and weights, sack lifter, bushel and straik, barn fan, box barrows, turnip hasher, feeding troughs, Paraffin drum, horse rake, ladders, rope yarn, and all minor tools and implements; 4 portable poultry houses, chicken coops, etc. 

Neilsbrae, Fintray 
Implements -2 box carts with tops, new pole grubber, drag, spring tooth, iron harrows, chain harrows, single ploughs, drill ploughs, Albion binder, mower, horse rake, turnip sowing machine, metal roller, stone roller, shim, barn fan, weighing machine and weights, bushel, barrows, ladders, turnip hashers, sculls, 2 sets cart and plough harness, drag and hand rakes, rick nets, coir yarn, ladders, posts, wire strainer, stack cover, feeding bins and troughs, hay knife, netting wire, pig box, 5 portable poultry houses, chicken coops, feeders, water fountains, grindstone, bench, scrap metal, picks, scythes, spades, forks, graips, hoes, shovels, brushes, happers, single-barrelled gun, yokes and swingle trees, and the usual assortment of minor farm tools. 

Westhall, Kincardine O’Neill
Implement – 3 box carts, long cart body, drag, sporing tooth, single plough, D. B. plough, iron harrows, shim, 2 stone rollers, binder, reaper and rake, horse rake, turnip sowing machine, barn fan, weighing machine and weights, 2 sets cart and plough harness, fencing posts, wire and wire netting, sack barrow, box harrow, 2 peat barrows, grindstone, ladders, hasher, pulper, sculls, troughs, barrels, wire strainer, 3 poultry houses, Ferret hutch, Gloucester Incubator, 2 indoor hoovers, foster mother, happer, scythes, forks, picks, spades, shovels, hoes, graips, rakes, cross-cut saws, yokes, and swingle trees, and the usual assortment of minor tools. Chicken raising houses and other rearing facilities are also noted.


What implements and machines were being used on leading farms in the Lothians in 1921?

Farm displenishing sales provide information on what implements and machines were present on individual farms at a specific date. They show what was there rather than what was actually being used as some may have fallen out of favour. However, they can be useful for tracking the use and adoption of new implements and machines (such as tractors, steam ploughs, binders or reapers), as well as noted makes of implements, and the use of ones from the United States or Canada. 

In the early 1920s farm displenishing sale notices show the progress that mechanisation had been made at this time, including the use of reapers and binders and the recently adopted tractors. Some of the large farms in Midlothian – as at Bonnington – had embraced this new form of motive power, though alongside the older form of horse power. At this time we see the increasing use of implements and machines from Canada and the United States, shown in names such as Massey Harris, Deering, Cockshutt, and Oliver. These were being used along locally made implements and machines by makers such as Sellar, Newlands and Sherriff – names that were also widely known outside the country. 

On some farms the range of implements and machines was impressive – many tasks were widely mechanised and an implements and machine used to undertake them; man power was still needed to work them. 

The following extracts from farm displenishing sales of leading farms in the Lothians were published in The Scotsman in 1921. Are there any trends that you notice in them? Are there any implements that you consider unusual or unexpected? 

Westfield Farm, two miles from South Queensferry and Winchburgh (15 October 1921) 
Implements – 4 box carts, 4 long carts, spring van, dog cart, 2 Massey Harris binders, 3 Wallace reapers, hay trolley, swathe turner, broadcast sower, hay collector, horse rake, 6 chill ploughs, 2 Oliver ploughs, 2 drill ploughs, double driller, 5 sets harrows, 2 land rollers, turnip sower, 2 cultivators, 2 drill grubbers, 2 rollers, cake breaker, fanners, chaff cutter, troughs, barrows, ladders &c, and all the usual small farm implements; 9 sets cart and plough harness. 

Bonnington, Kirknewton, Midlothian (29 October 1921)  
Implements – 1 Fordson tractor, 12 box carts, 10 long carts, 1 dog cart, 3 Massey-Harris, 1 six-foot Massey Harris, and 2 Deering Binders; 5 reapers, 5 hay tillers, 4 drill ploughs, 1 Oliver chilled plough, 10 single ploughs, and 4 double furrow ploughs; 2 three-horse grubbers, 7 drill grubbers, 2 tractor cultivators, 1 horse cultivator, 6 sets harrows, set 10 ft grass seed harrows, 1 Scotch harrow, 2 drill harrows, 1 scarifier, 4 metal rollers, 1 stone roller, 1 Cambridge roller, 1 manure plough (double drill), 1 manure distributor, 1 turnip sower, 1 broadcast sower, 1 potato planter, 3 potato diggers, 1 expanding 18-horse rake, 3 horse rakes, 1 horse fork, 1 turnip cutter, 1 water cart, weighing machine, cake breaker, 6 sheep racks, fanners, chaff cutter, troughs, ladders, barrows, cart axles, 20 sets swingle trees, 30-cwt block and tackle, cart ropes, bosses, scythes, sowing sheet, graips, hoes, forks and shovels, potato baskets, sheep netting and stobs, shearers’ blankets, stack props, cake and corn bins, lawn mower, washstand and basin, mallet, brushes; mangle; bothy utensils, and all usual small implements.
Harness and saddlery
20 complete sets cart and plough harness; 2 riding saddles; 3 sets driving harness; 2 riding bridles and 6 horse blankets, forge, anvil, bellows, and various tools. 

Monktonhall, Musselburgh (5 November 1921) 
Implements – The usual farm implements, including – 22 close and long carts, 4 Massey Harris binders, 4 mowers, 1 sheep turnip cutting cart, 1 sheep cart, broadcast, 2 Ideal manure distributors, 2 corn drills, 2 horse rakes, scarifier, turnip sowing barrow, iron rollers, hay collectors, Newlands cultivator, 2 double moulded ploughs, 5 Sellar ploughs, 2 Oliver ploughs, 2 double furrow ploughs, harrows, 2 sets chain harrows, drill grubbers, van, water barrel, and all the small tools. 12 sets cart and plough harness. 

Millrigg Farm, Kirknewton (9 November 1921) 
Implements – Deering binder, double drill manure distributor, 6 carts, 4 hay waggons, horse rake, Deering hay reaper, 2 reaping machines, double furrow Cockshutt plough, double bulking plough, Ransome’s Scotch plough, swing plough by Gray, Dux plough, hay trolley, 2 sets harrows, brake harrows, saddle harrows, field and other grubbers, turnip barrow, potato digger, turnip pulper, turnip cutter, 2 metal and 2 stone rollers, potato planter, dumb tam, wash barrel, wash pump, wheelbarrow, sack barrow, fanners, boilers, various; harvest frame, troughs, potato baskets, various binding chains, trees, scythes, graips, rakes, spades, forks, shovels, ropes, 4 set cart harness, 2 pairs backbands, odd harness, corn chest, meat cooler, 8 8-gallon and 2 4-gallon milk flasks, milk refrigerator, butter cooler, barrel churn, various outhouses and sheds; 3hp oil engine, threshing mill, hay cutter and corn bruiser &c. 

Knowes, Prestonkirk (19 November 1921) 
Farm implements – 10 coup carts on wheels, coup cart body, 3 long cart bodies, 7 cart frames, turnip cutting cart, 4 Massey Harris binders, 2 reapers, Sherriff broadcast seed sowing machine, Sherriff corn driller, manure distributor, double driller and manure sower, Ransome potato digger, potato sprayer (almost new), turnip seed sowing machine, scarifier, 3 metal rollers, drill roller, horse rake, 3 hay collectors, 2 Ransome cultivators (with moulds), 4 Ransome ploughs, 4 double moulded ploughs, 4 sets English harrows, set glass seed harrows (18ft), hand hay baler, 3 sets ladders, 5 cattle turnip slicers, 2 sheep turnip cutters, dishorner, graips, forks, shovels, hoes and other small barn and stable utensils. Also, 11 sets cart and plough harness.


What’s in a name?

Trade marks and names were widely used by the Scottish agricultural implement and machine makers from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. These were especially used in relation to reaping machines, binders and potato diggers as well as manufactures that were especially associated with particular makers. In 1910 Thomas Hunter & Sons, Implement Works, Maybole, manufactured the Hunter hoe, the Hunter spring tooth harrow and Hunter’s patent single drill self-acting turnip topping and tailing machine as well as its Excelsior manure distributor. J. Bisset & Sons, Blairgowrie, made its Bisset steel built binder, its Empire pole potato digger, and its New Champion potato digger. 

These names say something about the reputation of the maker and its particular manufactures. Everyone would have known what a Hunter hoe was and who manufactured them. Likewise a Bisset binder – and they would have known that the New Champion was made by Bisset. 

Trade names continued to remain important in the second half of the twentieth century – as they do now. There was a wide range of trade marks and names. Some applied to specific implements and machines made by a manufacturer or to the entirety of their manufactures. If you heard the names Allan, Caledonian, Dickie-Campbell you would know who or what they referred to. 

The following is a list of the trade marks and names for the Scottish agricultural implement and machine makers in 1952. How many of the names do you recognise? 

Ajax (fertiliser distributor) – Alex Jack & Sons Ltd, Cassilis Road, Maybole, Ayrshire 
Allan (threshing machines, engines) – Allan Bros. (Aberdeen) Ltd, Ashgrove Engineering Works, Aberdeen 
Ann Arbor (pick up baler) – John Wallace & Sons (Ayr) Ltd, Townhead Works, Ayr
Atlas (hydraulic swivel loader) – James A. Cuthbertson Ltd, station Road, Biggar, Lanarkshire 
Ayrshire (Elevator) – Scottish Farm Implements Ltd, Crosshouse, Kilmarnock 
Banff-Victory (broadcaster) – Banff Foundry & Engineering Co. Ltd, Banff Foundry, Banff 
Boyne (threshing machines) – Wright Bros (Boyne Mills) Ltd, Portsoy, Banffshire 
Brais – Tullos td, Greenwell Road, Aberdeen 
Caledonian (potato spinner) – Alexander Jack & Sons Ltd, Maybole, Ayrshire 
Champion (root drill) – J. & R. Wallace Ltd, The Foundry, Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbright 
Clark-Sucklift (Cutter-loader), Tullos Ltd, Greenwell Road, Aberdeen 
Cletrack (agricultural tracklayer)- John Wallace & Sons Ltd, Dennistoun, Glasgow 
Clydebuilt (egg recorder, laying cage) – Innes Walker (Engineering) Cop. Ltd, 30 Stanley Street, Glasgow 

Daisy Bell – William Elliot, 48 High Street, Hawick 
Dickie-Campbell (ricklifter) – Wm Dickie & Sons Ltd, Victoria Works, East Kilbride
Dicks J. Original (Balata belting) – R. & J. Dick, Greenhead Works, Glasgow
Eclipse (potato sorter) – John Monro, Eclipse Implement Works, Kirkcaldy
Eclipse (ricklifter) – Wm Dickie & Sons Ltd, Victoria Works, East Kilbride 
Empire (potato spinner) – J. Bisset & Sons Ltd, Blairgowrie, Perthshire 
Evenrow (potato coverer) – Tullos Ltd, Greenwell Road, Aberdeen 
Farmec (tractor cabs) – Farm Mechanization Ltd, Ladybank, Fife 
Fife (tractor cabs) – Farm Mechanization Co. Ltd, Ladybank, Fife 
Flintrite (plough fittings) – Cruickshank & Co. Ltd, Denny Iron Works, Denny, Stirlingshire 
Goodall (ensilage cutter) – Tullos Ltd, Greenwell Road, Aberdeen 
Grain Master (grain blower) – Scottish Mechanical Light Industries Ltd, ScotMec Works, 42-44 Waggon Road, Ayr 
Handigrip – William Elliot, 48 High Street, Hawick 
Handy (ricklifter) – Wm Dickie & Sons Ltd, Victoria Works, East Kilbride 
Henderland (plough shares, cultivator, turnip cutter) – Geo. Henderson Ltd, Kelso, Roxburghshire 

Hunter Crown (horse hoe) – A. & W. Pollock, Implement Works, Mauchline, Ayrshire 
Ideal (fertiliser distributor, turnip lifter), Macdonald Brothers, Portsoy 
Imperial (fertilser distributor) – Alex. Jack & Sons Ltd, Cassillis Road, Maybole 
Larbert (sack and bale loader) – A. Scott, North Broomage, Larbert, Stirlingshire 
Lochrin (fencing equipment, farm buildings) – William Bain & Co. Ltd, 80 Ebury Street, London 
McRobert (potato sorter) – Tullos Ltd, Greenwell Road, Aberdeen 
Milton (foot mixer) – Andrew Young & Son, 51 High Craighall Road, Glasgow 
Mollison (potato spinner) – The Forfar Foundry Ltd, Forfar, Angus 
Monarch (windmill) – John McBain & Son Ltd, Chirnside, Duns 
Monarch (wire strainer) – David Lauder, 2-6 Portland Street, Kilmarnock 
Multiplanter (cabbage, leek, tomato planter) – A. M. Russell Ltd, Sinton Works, Gorgie Road, Edinburgh

New Champion (root drill) – J. L. & J. Ballach, Gorgie Implement Works, Edinburgh 
New Don (fertiliser distributor) – Wm R Reid & Leys Ltd, 8 Hadden Street, Aberdeen 
Nu-Sort (potato sorter) – Jas. Crichton, Turriff, Aberdeenshire 
Oliver Clectrack (agricultural tracklayer) – John Wallace & Sons Ltd, Dennistoun, Glasgow 
Papec – (cutter-blower, green crop and hay chopping machine) – James Scott & Son (Aberdeen) Ltd, 483-5 Union Street, Aberdeen 
Perfect (potato spinner) – A. & W. Pollock, Implement Works, Mauchline 
Reekie (weeder, tractor cab, drill, hedge cutter) – Reekie Engineering Co. Ltd, Arbroath, Scotland 
Richardson (potato planter) – J. L. & J. Ballach Gorgie Implement Works, Edinburgh
Scotmec (hammer mill), Scotmec-Venturi (grain blower) – Scottish Mechanical Light Industries Ltd, 42-44 Waggon Road, Ayr 
Scotvent (grain blower) – Scottish mechanical Light Industries Ltd, 42-44 Waggon Road, Ayr 
Skidmaster (tyre girdle) – Wm Donaldson (Engineers) Ltd, Blackstoun Works, Linwood, Paisley 
Smallholder (threshing machine) – R. G. Garvie & Sons, 2 Canal road, Aberdeen 
Steelrite (plough attachments) – Cruickshank & Co. Ltd, Denny Iron Works, Denny, Stirlingshire 
Sternette (milk cooling and storage plant) – L. Sterne & Co. Ltd, Sternette Works, Kelvin Avenue, Hillington, Glasgow 

Sucklife (cutter-loader) – Tullos Ltd, Greenwell Road, Aberdeen 
Superloy (drinking bowls, pig troughs, root cutters, hand rakes) – Potter, Cowan & Co., Ltd, 54 French Street, Glasgow 
Tip-It-All (trailers) – Eddie T. Y. Gray, Fairbank Works, Fetterangus, Aberdeenshire 
Torpedo (portable forge) – Portable Forge & Engineering Co. Ltd, 27 Thistle Street, Glasgow
Tractaid (trailer) – Scottish Farm Implements Ltd, Crosshouse, Kilmarnock 
Triplex (combined fertiliser distributor and dibbler) – Alex Jack and Sons Ltd, Cassillis Road, Maybole, Ayrshire 
Tullos-Wilmo (fertiliser distributor) – Tullos Ltd, Greenwell Road, Aberdeen 
Universal (fertiliser distributor) – J. & R. Wallace Ltd, The Foundry, Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire 
Velox (soil steriliser) – Grampian Engineering & Motor Co. Ltd, Causewayhead, Stirling 
Wallace of Ayr – John Wallace & Sons (Ayr) Ltd, Townhead Works, Ayr 
Water buffalo (tracklayer) – James A. Cuthbertson Ltd, Station Road, Bigger, Lanarkshire 

What trade marks and names do you recall?


Early days of harvesting with tractors

Grain harvesting technologies have changed considerably in the last 150 years – from the cycle, scythe to the reaping machine and the combine. Back in August 1922 the North British Agriculturist commented on the progress in tractor harvesting.

Back then tractor harvesting was still in its infancy in Britain: tractors were still only used on a relatively small number of farms and the horse still remained king. But there was some progress:

“There is not the least doubt that the use of the tractor in harvesting is being put to a severe test this season, and if it emerges satisfactorily it will be a triumph for mechanical farming. On the other hand there is equally no doubt that many farmers are metaphorically tearing their hair – when they have any left – over the shortcomings of their motive power. Many a man is calling himself a particular kind of fool for ever sinking so many hundreds of pounds in an engine. Now, it is unfortunately a very bad season for tractor work of this kind, while no one has as yet had experience enough in the new methods of working the tractor with the binder to get the best results; anyway, there is still much against a successful outcome. Take, for instance, a case known to us. When engine and binder are running all right then the work goes on right merrily. When turning at the corners the man on the binder
steps off, whips one sheaf only out of the way of the tractor in turning, and lithely regains his seat before the binder enters the corn again. Unfortunately, there is a lot of “wire-seed”-a variety of knot-grass-among the corn which frequently chokes the binder, necessitating a stoppage; next, the tractor will not start, from the sparking-plug being choked up or from such other such trouble, and so one worry follows another, and time is wasted; and our particular farmer friend wishes he had never bought a tractor at all! Then, the speed at which a tractor runs shakes a binder all to pieces, and the gear has often to be set on the second speed, which again means less work being done. Many who have been cutting at high tractor speed with the horse binder and finding to their cost how quickly the life of their machine is being reduced. It is possible, of course, to get large, powerful binders specially built for tractor work, but this means a lot more outlay of capital; and, while an 8-ft sitting bar is all right for a light standing crop, it is apt to be muddled up in heavy tangled stuff-especially in a year like this when so many fields have been “laid” by wind and rain, and grass seed has been sown along with corn.

Many farmers, on account of these troubles, who own tractors and believe in their use, have come to the conclusion that they are better served by horses in harvest time, and that the proper function of the tractor engine is rather to do and to make up against time the heavy work of ploughing, sub-soiling, cultivating, &c. Sub-soiling, particularly, is coming to the front in these days, and, as we lately pointed out, it will now be possible to sub-soil in a way which is beyond the power of horses. In the case of the binder, however, three horses-or even two-can go steadily on for a good long day, while, if one horse in a team gets played out, another can be substituted-a point in favour of horse labour. Further, in harvest time, as a rule, the horses might just as well be working as running loose when the tractor is taking their place. Nevertheless, the tractor has come to stay in harvesting as in other kinds of farm work. Every farmer past middle age can remember the introduction of the binder, but some of the old brigade can recall the advent of the original reaping machine itself, and can also remember what a terrible “hash” it made of the job in its early stages. It took a long time to train men and horses to be able to handle one of these machines satisfactorily, and it took a long time to develop and improve them. The same applies to the string binder, and it is only a short time since they were brought to their present state of efficiency. Why! it was only this week that a well-known Lothian farmer remarked to us that he had never experienced a season when the binder had tackled so efficiently laid crops in many difficult positions, and he was quite surprised at the small amount of stuff which had to be dealt with by the scythe. Tis all goes to show that the binder, in its present state of efficiency, is being better understood by those who have to handle it. We are in a state of transition, and as the time goes on we shall get tractors and other machines more and more improved, an -what is of equal importance- we shall learn better how to use them.

A notable English authority believes in, and advocates the harvesting of grain on the Californian method, i.e. the corn thrashed out as it is being cut, so that only the straw has to be stacked for use; but on this system the grain must be kiln-dried to store up. The tractor, of course, would give power such as could never be obtained from horses for this method of working. Such a modus operandi could only be adopted in the South of England, of course, but it would not be safe to condemn it off-hand, for one never knows the inventive age what developments the near future may see! Our grandfathers harvested their corn with the reaping-hook, and never dreamed of even a string-binder; now we have the tractor going with the binder, and time will improve the combination. There are other developments in connection with tractor work in harvesting, however, to which some attention right be given. The stocking machine, though at present unsuited to the wet we have to reckon with in Scotland, is a practical success, and can now be hitched on to the binder, and the tractor will work both. The immediate future will likely see developments in this direction. Again, a common custom in the USA is to hang on a disc cultivator behind the binder and thus scarify the soil as the work of cutting proceeds, thus at one operation helping to get rid of weeds and making good preparation for the next crop. These are two or three subsidiary developments which, as time goes on, will become more and more common as part of tractor work in the harvest field.

It is interesting to note the predictions back in 1922 – and our views of looking back to what they thought in 1922.

The photographs were taken at Scotland’s Farming Yesteryear, September 2014.


Early tractors for sale in Scotland

Adverts for tractor dealers provide one way that we can find out who and where the first tractors were being sold in Scotland. Another way is to see where tractors were being used. Farm displenishing sale notices in newspapers provide evidence of where some of the earliest tractors were used and the context in which they were being used. They list the tractors alongside all the other implements and machines on the farm. 

There are few adverts for the “Glasgow tractor”. However, one had been used at the Mains of Dun, Angus, by Robert Rodger. After he died in the summer of 1921 a displenishing sale was arranged which comprised, according to The Scotsman of 10 August 1921, “1 Glasgow tractor, only been in use one season, in very good order; cultivator self-lifter for tractor; disc harrow; Cockshutt plough, 3 furrow; binder, 6 feet for tractor; and all the implements required on a large farm.” In total there were 398 lots. There was a “record attendance” at the sale, according to the Dundee Courier of 19 August 1921. It noted that there were “farmers and dealers from all over Scotland”. The implements and machines had “a very sharp trade” and “highly satisfactory prices” were received. The Glasgow tractor sold for £210.Mr Baird, the incoming tenant, was an extensive purchaser. 

The adverts were more usually for Mogul, Titan and Avery Tractors. They started to appear in displenishing sales notices from late 1919 onwards. They were largely used on the larger farms, including Mains of Home farms, where there were a range of arable activities, including the growing and harvesting of green crops, being undertaken. They were also being used alongside horse drawn implements and machines – and also alongside teams of horses as well. 

The following are extracts from farm displenishing sale notices which included these early tractors. Notice the large number of implements and machines for sale as well as the range of “modern” implements of the day: there is a considerable amount of mechanisation being used on the farms to make the range of tasks of indoor and outdoor work as easy to undertake as possible. 

Flawcraig, Errol, Perthshire (notice in Dundee courier, 31 October 1919) 
Implements- “Mogul” tractor, 3 furrow plough, large disc harrow, water tank, 4 coup carts, 4 iron carts, 4 metal rollers, 2 brake harrows, 1 4-horse grubber, set circular harrows, 4 set harrows, 4 drill grubbers, potato digger, 2 D. M. ploughs, 2 Sellar ploughs, 4 American ploughs, turnip shawer, 2 turnip cutters, 3 binders, 2 mowers, 2 Hunter hoes, cultivator, 5 cattle troughs, horse rake, manurer distributor, cake crusher, potato boxes, barn fanners, steelyard and weights, 4 sets cart and plough harness & c and the usual barn and stable utensils.

The Home Farm, Parkhill (notice in Aberdeen press and journal, 30 April 1920)
Implements-2 binders (Massey Harris), Albion mower, 1 disc drill sowing machine (Deering), 1 broadcast sowing machine, 1 turnip sowing machine, 1 manure distributor, 1 potato digger (Martin’s patent), 1 horse rake, 2 drag rakes, 5 single ploughs, 2 D. B. ploughs, 1 water furrow plough, 3 shim ploughs, 1 three drill plough, 1 seven tined cultivator, 3 water furrer combined, 4 stone rollers, 4 box carts (with tops), 2 long carts (with hay tops), 1 lorry (30 cwt), 1 cattle float, 1 pig’s float, governess car (suit 15 h.h.), 8 sets of harrows, including angle, chain, drag, grass seed, and potato; 3 grubbers (4, 3, and 2 horse), barn fan, weighing machine and weights, 4 box barrows, 2 peat barrows, scythes, wire fencing, yokes and swingletrees, cattle feeding troughs, turnip slicers, 6 sets cart and plough harness, pony harness, and all the usual stable furnishings, including power clipping machine, smithy tools, dairy utensils, including 2 crank churns and 2 plump churns, butter worker, etc, etc. Also, “Mogul” tractor No. B5268, speed 400, hp 16-20, in perfect working order, 1 portable threshing machine, 3 ½ feet, double blast finishing, by Clayton and Shuttleworth, in splendid order; 1 three furrow Cock Shoot tractor plough, steel sheaths; 1 two furrow plough, by Sellar and Son, Huntly, and a number of spares. 

Easter Caputh, Murthly (notice in Dundee courier, 9 November 1920) 
Implements-5 coup carts, corn carts, 4 senior Dux ploughs, swing ploughs, drill ploughs, 3 furrow tractor plough, 3 sets harrows, grass seed harrows, 2 two-horse grubbers, 3 drill grubbers, Hunter hoe, Martin’s cultivator, spring-toothed harrow, circular harrow, corn drill, manure sowing machine, double drill and manure sower (by Wallace), Richmond potato planter, 2 Deering binders, 1 Wood binder, 2 mowers, horse rake, hay rake, turnip cutter, pulper, cake breaker, grist mill, saw bench, sheep dipper and tanks, sheep haiks, troughs, stakes and netting, field feed house on wheels, potato dresser (Phoenix), potato barrow, 2 wheel-barrows, 2 steelyards and weights, sack lifter, corn chest, oil tank (130 gals), 2 steel barrels, drums, 2 straw bunkers, cattle troughs, fire clay troughs, portable boiler, boilers, moveable hen house, coops etc; 20 sleepers, ladders, props, bosses, oil iron &c, governess car, the horse harness, and the usual barn and stable implements and land tools; also, Titan tractor and Avery tractor, both in first class order. 

Harvieston, Kinneff (notice in Aberdeen press and journal, 11 November 1921)
Implements-Mogul tractor 10-20hp; Sellar tractor, 3 furrow plough, tractor grubber (all as new), 4 box carts with tops, 1 long cart, 1 long cart body, dogcart, 3 iron single ploughs, M.P. plough, 2 D.B. ploughs, plough hurley, 2 sets spring-toothed harrows, set of chain harrows, 3 scrapers, 1 McCormick binder, 6ft cut (almost new); 1 Bisset binder (in good order), mower, potato digger, horse rake, 2 turnip sowing machines (almost new), manure distributor, 2 metal rollers, broadcast sowing machine, barn fan, weighing machine and weights, and other barn furniture; wire and wooden fencing, 3 sets cart and plough harness, gig harness and odd harness, yokes and swingletrees, cart ropes, coir yarn, 2 stack covers, sowing happer, ladders, picks, spades, forks, hoes, graips, and the usual assortment of minor farm implements. 

Muirton, Memsie (notice in Aberdeen press and journal, 28 April 1922)
Implements- Mogul tractor, in splendid order; tractor grubber, tractor pole, portable threshing mill, 54in drum, by Marshall and Sons; bruiser, practically new; 60ft endless Belatta belt; 2 box carts, with hay tops and creels; water cart, horse rake, 2 Bisset binders, spare binder parts, metal roller, metal pump, double furrow plough, 2 single ploughs, harrow hurley, spring-toothed harrows, iron harrows, wooden harrows, drill sowing machines, 2 shims, mower, oilcake breaker, spare wheels and axle, 3 box barrows, plump hasher, corn chest, field feeding trough, Martin potato digger, Ballach scarifier, ladders, various sizes; clipping machine, bench, water barrels and tubs, paraffin cask, 2 scythes, chicken coops, grains, forks, hoes, spades, shovels, fencing posts and wire, etc. Two sets of cart and plough harness, stall halters and stable furnishings. 

Gateside Farm, Bridge of Earn (notice in Dundee courier, 3 November 1922) 
Implements-2 25hp Mogul tractors, 16hp Titan tractor, Wyles tractor plough, Ford delivery van, all in working order; 4 Eagle Tractor Waggons, 2 6-ft McCormick and Wood’s binders, 3 corn carts, 6 coup carts, hay mower, double driller and combined manure sower, turnip sower, grass sowing machine, corn bruiser and grister (combined), cake breaker, horse cultivator, horse rake, thistle cutter, corn drill, horse roller, manure distributor, hay collector, 2 tumbling rakes, set circular harrows, turnip pulper, portable boiler, 2 drill ploughs, 3 set harrows, 6 Wood’s 2 wheel ploughs, 3 food coolers, incubators and brooders, harnesses for 3 pairs horses, stable utensils; dairy utensils, including 6 5-gallon flasks, refrigerator, weighing machine, barrows, potato sack filler, swingle trees, feeding boxes and troughs sheep haiks, scythes, shovels, &c

Craighead, Blairdrummond (notice in Dundee courier, 14 November 1923) 
Implements – Overtime tractor, 28hp, fitted with belt pulley, suitable for fireld or stationary work, in good mechanical order; Fordson tractor (as new condition), 2 cultivators (Newlands and Ransomes), the latter with mould boards for ridging potatoes, horse rake (Newlands), turnip sower; 9ft iron roller for horse or tractor, 6ft iron roller for horse or tractor, broadcast sower (Sheriff’s, Dunbar), 18ft for seeds or grain, hay tedder (Blackstone), Massey Harris binder (6ft cut), for horse or tractor (new condition), Massey Harris binder (5ft cut), 3 hay waggons, 6 box and coup carts, 3 sets diamond harrows, brake harrows, disc harrows (International Harvester) for tractor (new), set spring tooth harrows, set chain harrows, set saddle harrows, hay horse fork, hay horse crane fork (Wilson’s); Hunter hoe, one horse grubber, potato planter (Jack’s), stone roller, 2 Oliver 110a ploughs, 1 I.R.D.C.P. Ransome ploughs, 3 swing ploughs (high cutters and plain), Massey Harris D.F. plough for horses; La Crosse tractor plough (2, 3 or 4 furrows), D. F. tractor ploughs (Speedy); drill plough, Imperial manure sower, triangle, 2 Dickie hay slipes (horse or hand power), Massey Harris mower, set fanners (Scoular’s patent), turnip cutter, turnip pulper, Bamford’s bruiser and grinder for power; hay chopper for power, 9 brake hp engine by Wilson, Aberdeen, fitted with Magneto (unless previously sold), 18-in circular saw bench and belting, 50 gallon oil tank with pump, potato digger (Jack’s Imperial), cake crusher (Bentall’s) for hand or power, grindstone; Stewart’s horse clipping machine, 3 barrows, 2 brooders (Miller’s and Sussex types), dozen coops, portable henhouse to hold 30 hens, horse box (sectional), 5 ladders (20 feet and 12 ft), knife sharpener and stand, swing trees, steelyard and weights (White, Auchtermuchty), 2 corn chests, 2 churns, 300 stack props and a few sleepers, 1 dozen fireclay troughs, 5 sets harness, backbands, also the usual large assortment of barn, byre, stable and dairy utensils &c
Note – special attention is drawn to the implements, which are in excellent order. 

Interestingly, Harvieston, Kinneff, Kincardineshire, was one of the earliest farms in Scotland to use steam ploughing. This was in the late 1850s. It was to again use steam ploughing in the mid 1920s, through a set hired from Sam Hird, Sauchenshaw. That set can still be found around the rally fields (non-covid years) as the ploughing engine “Sam Hird”, owned by the Barrack family. 

The “Titan” and “Mogul” tractors were photographed at the Manitoba Agricultural Museum and the Manitoba Car Museum.