Threshing and threshing machines in Aberdeenshire in 1811

The county agricultural surveys of the Board of Agriculture and Internal Improvement, published between 1795 and 1817 record information on agricultural implements and machines. The Scottish reports include some interesting insights on threshing machines, seen as one of the most important agricultural innovations of the day. The survey report for Aberdeenshire includes a short account on the introduction and use of threshing mills.

“Threshing mills are not as yet general, but considerable additions are made to their number every year. And in consequence, mill-wrights are in much request. The greater part of these machines go by water, and on many accounts are preferable to those which are driven by horses.-Many of the proprietors, and a great proportion of the better sort of farmers, have erected threshing machines, which thresh from 4 to 12 bolls, or from 3 to 10 quarters of corn in an hour; and have frequently a pair of manners and shakers staved to them. Several farmers, whose rents do not amount to L40 a year, have got threshing machines, which thresh from 2 to 3 bolls in an hour. And both from their threshing the corn more completely, and from having it quickly ready for market, even such farmers find, that the expense of the machine is soon paid-by the quantity of its produce, and by its expeditious dispatch.”

How this picture changed during the nineteenth century!

The photographs of threshing mills were taken at New Deer Show, July 2014.