What was new for the Glasgow farmer in 1863?

The Glasgow Agricultural Society was a major agricultural association in Scotland in the nineteenth century. Its show was a key part of the farming year and attracted considerable attention. The show included an implement department as well as the usual displays of cattle and other livestock. 

Accounts of the show reveal the names of some of the key makers of implements and machines for farmers in Glasgow and its hinterland. They also showed what was new and innovative. 

An account of the show from 1863, at a time when Scottish agriculture was prospering and the agricultural implement trade was increasing provides some highlight on the trade and the people involved in it. The North British Agriculturist writes: 

“The eleventh annual summer Exhibition of the Glasgow Agricultural Society commenced yesterday, in the cattle market. Today the live stock were placed, and the prizes awarded. The Show, on the whole, was equal to that of previous years, although the number of entries, both of implements and live stock, was rather under that of last year; but the general superiority of the implements and animals shown amply compensated for any falling off in the number of exhibitors. 

The implements were generally distinguished by simplicity of design, with excellent material and workmanship. Mr Gray, Uddingston, was the only exhibitor of thrashing machines and portable engines. The collection of implements from Uddingston reflect credit on their manufactory. Mr Jack, Ayr, showed mowers and reapers and combined machines, apparently well designed, with the parts carefully adjusted. Messrs Thomas Perry & Son, Glasgow, had an excellent collection-a reaping machine, a haymaker, hoes, harrows, corn-crushers, and straw cutters. Mr A W Dunn, Glasgow, showed the Buck eye combined reaping and mowing machine. Two excellent one horse carts were shown by Mr J. Angus, Parkhead, Glasgow. Mr Bradford, Manchester, exhibited an extensive collection of washing and wringing machines. P. & R. Fleming & Co., had a collection of cheese pressers, milk dishes, &c, and an improved three-toed steel potato hoe. Messrs Gordon & Winter, Ayr, showed an apparatus for the manufacturing of cheese; the milk is heated, and the curd broken up by the machine.

Mr T. Hunter, Maybole, had a very good collection of harrows, &c. Messrs Kemp. Murray & Nicholson, Stirling, showed two excellent reaping machines. Messrs Brown & Young. Stirling, exhibited an improved reaping machine, and a four wheeled dog cart. Messrs Law, Duncan & Co., Shuttleworth, exhibited a good collection of ploughs, grubbers, harrows &c. This firm also showed Hanson’s potato digger. Mr McKerrow, Kilmarnock, had a good collection of grubbers, ploughs &c. Messrs T. Pearson & Co., Glasgow, exhibited corn risk stands, rick covers &c. Mr John Richardson, Carlisle, exhibited his much prized fanners. Messrs Richmond & Chandler. Mancheser, showed a limited collection of chaff cutters, mills, and kneading machines. Mr John Robson, Glasgow, exhibited an extensive collection of troughs, pipes, drain tiles, and other articles constructed of fireclay-the whole excellent in quality. Messrs Gray, Smith & Co., Glasgow, exhibited one stable stall complete, the arrangements of which appeared to be good.

Mr A. Storie, Paisley, had a good collection of ploughs and harrows. Mr Tair, Mearns, showed ploughs and a drill grubber. Messrs J. & T. Young, Ayr, exhibited a guano pulveriser, a reaping machine, a drill drop sowing machine, cheese presses, &c. Mr George Finlayson, Arbroath, exhibited a broadcast sowing machine and a turnip sowing machine, both excellent. Messrs W. D. Young & Co., Glasgow, had a somewhat extensive collection, the principal articles being rick stands, rakes, hurdles, iron fencing, wire netting, &c, The show of implements although somewhat limited, was characterised by gentle usefulness, and most articles were offered at moderate prices.”

Readers will recognize some of the names like Jack of Maybole, P. & R. Fleming, Glasgow, T. Hunter, Maybole, Kemp, Murray & Nichoslon, Stirling, and Gray of Uddingston, all who continued in business until well through the twentieth century.

The photographs of the special display of horse-drawn implements and machines was taken at the Royal Highland Show, June 2019.