mower

by alan

Ireland’s first golf course gang mower with Cletrac – 1922

August 20, 2017 in Club News

Although this article is about trialing machinery on an Irish golf course, it is also a good example of engine powered machinery and mechanisation taking over from horses.

In October 1922 A newspaper in Ireland printed the following image along with a text article, describing and depicting a tractor and set of gang mowers during a demonstration at Malone Golf Links, Dublin:

Squint at the image a bit and try to see what is shown…..


Cletrac Crawler

Being of not the best scanned quality the machinery depicted is at best blurry and indistinct. But as with many images the detail can be deciphered to a degree anyway. The means of towing the mowers is a Cletrac crawler (similar machine shown right) and the gang mowers are, as we later discovered a set of Ransomes gang mowers. 

Almost a year later in September 1923 another Irish newspaper printed the following photo shown below with the caption that ‘This motor lawn-mower is at present at work on the Malone Golf Links, Belfast. It is the first of it’s kind introduced into Ireland‘. 

From that statement we can assume it is the first golf course gang mower that they had, rather than their first mower. Image below.


The images at the top of the page show three gangs yet the image above shows more – actually five. The Cletrac model shown would also have been new around the early 1920’s too. 

Additionally some text in the 1922 newspaper with the first image tells us about the demonstration of Ransome’s triple mowers at Malone golf links, all arranged by T & J McErvel, Victoria Square, Belfast. Dealers names and addresses are always useful for research. 

The golf course had been trialing the Ransomes mowers for over twelve months – so they must have started in mid-1921. However the mowers had been drawn by a single horse with the three gang mowers cutting a seven-foot width of grass. They then tried five gangs (shown above) and had to use two light horses or a 17hp Cletrac tractor. The tractor ‘being the caterpillar type‘ does not mark or injure the ground in any way. 

McErvel, Belfast, advert showing that they were agents for Ransomes as well as having a working Cletrac tractor on their stand at the Royal Ulster Agricultural Show, May 1923.

Apparently a similar combination had been employed on the Neasden Golf Links near London and they were able to cut an area of eighty acres in four days or twenty acres per day of 7.5 hours each. The cost of the tractor was 2s per hour (so were Cletracs used on several golf courses??)  and in comparison with horses there was a saving of £7 per week after allowing for depreciation. It used to take four men and four horses one week to cut the same area of fairways. So here the Cletrac and gangs is starting to use less labour as well as being quicker and cheaper and presumably easier than using horses.

At the 1922 demonstration several golf clubs were present to see the machinery in action. Additionally Mr Tom McErvel represented the local agents, Mr J H Cathcart of Dublin represented Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies. Mr Alexander Milligan represented H.G.Burford & Co Ltd makers of the Cletrac tractor

Wonder what happened to the horses once the Cletrac and mowers took over?

A little more information about Ransomes in Ireland from an 1895 newspaper column (image below) in The Belfast Newsletter reads: “Celebrated Lawn Mowers, – A large consignment of Ransome’s famous machines has just reached their Sole Ulster Depot, and should be inspected by all lovers of nice lawns and tennis courts. These mowers have been largely supplied to local Golf Clubs, and the best families in North of Ireland. Ransome’s New Sweeping Machine for lawns, paths, and the public parks has also reached Belfast. – Address of Depot, 14 Lombard Street (T. EDENS OSBORNE’S well known Warehouse). Free trial against any other make – British or Foreign. Mowers sent carriage paid to any Railway Station in Ulster. Write for illustrated catalogue“.


1895 Ireland Ransomes mower advert