The Bruce Turnip Lifter

In the mid twentieth century there were a number of turnip lifters or harvesters made in Scotland. These included the “Ideal” turnip lifter made by MacDonald Bros, Roseacre Street, Portsoy. This was made for use with horses or for Ferguson and David Brown tractors.

Another was the Bruce Turnip Lifter invented by James Bruce of Little Keithock, Brechin. It was a successful machine. The following extracts highlight its development:

“Young Brechin farmer’s turnip lifter (Brechin advertiser, 26 June 1956)

A turnip-lifter and dresser invented by a young Brechin framer has won, subject to a practical test, one of the silver medals awarded by the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society for new implements.

The young farmer, Mr James M. Bruce, Little Keithock, first thought of a machine that would put an end to the back-breaking job of “pullin’ neeps” in 1951. Next year he built himself a machine and tried it out. Then the firm of Foundry Foundry Ltd, took an interest in his ideas and produced the production model in time for general sale last season. Now the firm have well over 100 orders for the machine, which can “top and tail” about eight acres of turnips a day.

Mr Brown is now working on another machine-it is “secret” meantime-that will help to bring still more automation to the farming industry.”

“Another invention by farmer’s son (Kirriemuir free press, 21 April 1960)

Loading attachment for turnip lifter

Farmer’s son, James Bruce, of Little Keithock, Brechin, who is equally at home in an engineering workshop, has invented another machine to help on the land.

Mr Bruce, whio is 28, spends much of his spare time in his well-equipped workshop in the steading of the 90 acre farm.

One of his earliest productions was a turnip lifter, and he has now invented a loading attachment to make the complete operation mechanical.

His turnip lifter, which tops and tails the needs, was patented and put into production by a Forfar firm. He has also patented his loader.

A conveyor belt lifts the turnips into a bogie, and the lifter with loading attachment speeds up normal harvesting ten times. It can handle four acres a day.

The loading attachment costs about £90, bringing the cost of the complete unit to about £220.

The loader has taken Mr Bruce four years of spare-time work to perfect.”

In the early 1960s there were second hand machines advertised for sale at displenishing sales as well as implement and machinery dealers such as Cumming & Dempster, Banchory, Reekie Engineering, Forfar, and Neil Ross (Tractors) Ltd, Kaurencekirk.

The photo was taken at the Strathnairn Vintage Rally.