tiller

by alan

Every Machine Has a History

July 25, 2018 in Articles, Machinery

A Barford Atom to add to the collection perhaps?

One of the pleasures, or depending on ones view it could be a fault, of any hobby is gathering up new items whether they are needed or not. For instance a model railway enthusiast may start with a single train and a loop of track one Christmas and bit by bit they end up having purchased most of Hornby by the following festivities. Or someone may decide to start cycling for a bit of leisurely exercise, initially on a basic bike but in a mere few weeks and by the time one can jokingly utter ‘Are you entering the Tour de France?!’ they’ve already progressed to buying the most advanced carbon fibre race bike and squeezing their unhealthy body into lycra. You see hobbies are addictive, contagious and sneakily devour time and suck money from wallets when we are not looking and thus propel us along the route of collecting overload – whether it’s a train set, a new bike, an even better bike, or some nice horticultural machinery. 

It’s no surprise then that in a small corner of Yorkshire some new machines are hovering on the horizon. The well-practiced horticultural-collectors mantra of ‘I’m not getting any more machines ever again‘ shrivels and dies as machines which are in running condition, free and local are drawn to me by some magical force.

The three tick-boxes of ‘Running Condition’, ‘Free’, and ‘Local’ are just so hard to resist, good manners dictate that one has to at least have a look at the items …and take along a trailer, you know, just in case. 

Barford Atom 15 with Cylinder Mower

One of the machines up for perusal is a Barford Atom 15 with cylinder mower attachment, pictured on the right, a machine not out of the ordinary then. It’s a machine I’d never really considered, but, and this is a big but, it’s got local history. We know where the Barford has been since new. We know who bought it and where from, why they bought it and exactly where it was used. In the art world that’s called provenance meaning that after a bit of eureka research the knock-off Picasso that you had a hunch about and picked up at the car boot sale for £3 turns out to be the genuine article, becomes ridiculously desirable and is now worth £3 million. Unfortunately provenance doesn’t make the Barford worth any more, it adds to it’s interest, makes a nice story and brings the machine alive but financial gain just isn’t going to happen. As with several machines I have, no amount of pretty archive pictures and bulging folders of historical data will add to their monetary value and the only way to make them worth more without major grafting is to tape a £20 note to the fuel tank. But that doesn’t matter, it’s a hobby and the research is as interesting as the machine itself, in fact sometimes the history is more fascinating than the actual machine.

Unusually this article is briefly about a specific machine. And just as this Barford has a history so does every machine and they are always worth researching. If you have a manufacturer name, address or makers plate then five places to start are:

Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/
Graces Guide: https://gracesguide.co.uk
London Gazette: https://www.thegazette.co.uk
Old Maps: https://www.old-maps.co.uk
British Newspaper Archives: https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/  

Or for a specific town, street, factory or dealer premises try searching for old postcards on Ebay, or even archive films of towns that have been uploaded to Youtube, possibly even see if the town has a history group online with gallery images –  you’d be surprised what there is. 

Onwards then with the Barford. It’s got a very nice brass suppliers plate, pictured above right, attached to the frame, and this Barford started life being supplied by Smith Brothers LTD, Towngate Works in Keighley. They were agricultural and dairy engineers. I know the premises no longer exist, demolished decades ago and replaced by a new-fangled concrete building housing shops beneath the bus station multi-story car park, unfortunately replicated all too often in too many places. But thankfully the internet is a fascinating place to rummage about in and find the most incredible things, like a picture of the Smith Brothers shop in Keighley (probably not long before it was demolished) and the side alley the Barford would have been wheeled out of in the late 1950’s. With Smith Bros truck outside with baler twine loaded and a Morris Minor down the road it’s an image that takes us back to a rose-tinted era.


The recreation ground where the Barford spent it’s working life

And where was this Barford Atom heading? It was on it’s way up the valley having been purchased by a local village council to cut the grass on their recreation and sports ground (map image, right). This Barford was purchased with two attachments, one being the cylinder mower and the other a sickle bar mower, it was bought purely as a mowing machine. The recreation ground which once had a cricket pitch still exists and created when the mills came in the mid 1850’s although just like Smith Brothers premises they have been demolished to be replaced by more modern buildings. 

I cannot help but think that this little Barford was there on the recreation and cricket ground to assist other machines, even today the area is still large and would take an age to mow. And what machine preceded it and did the mowing before the Barford was purchased? Research with the parish council may provide the answer. 

As time passes by the Barford did a lot of work and on close inspection has had the handles professionally repaired several times, it was a machine for work. That is until for whatever reason the Barford gets relegated to the back of the machinery shed, possibly it needed repairs, possibly it was replaced by a newer machine with a wider cut, perhaps with a seat and shinier paintwork? 

Barford and cylinder mower back in working order

As with many machines as every day passes the scrap man moves closer. How many machines have been rescued from the scrap? Until one day someone asks what’s happening to the Barford and that’s the point that it’s fortunes turn. It gets repaired with a complete engine overhaul, it gets new parts and a coat of paint and ends up in preservation, it’s a story that is told countless times for a huge number of machines. 

This Barford survives, partly through it being a brilliantly engineered machine and also that someone saw that it shouldn’t go to scrap. 

And does the Barford work? Why of course, it starts instantly and runs well and may even have seen off many machines that have been and gone on that recreation field over the last few decades. 

If you have a machine that needs a bit of research as to the suppliers it came from then again I’d suggest the following resources, you never know what you may discover.

Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/
Graces Guide: https://gracesguide.co.uk
British Newspaper Archives: https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/
London Gazette: https://www.thegazette.co.uk

Old Maps: https://www.old-maps.co.uk

Barford Atom 15 with Cylinder Mower

 

by alan

Equipment on sale in…..1964

November 6, 2016 in Articles

machinery-for-sale-1964To set the scene and waken some memories 1964 was a notable year as it was when BBC2 started broadcasting, Daihatsu began importing cars into the UK (the first Japanese manufacturer to do so), Donald Campbell was setting world speed records in Australia and the Mini Moke a fun vehicle for the era and built by BMC in Longbridge hit UK roads. 

We’ve also chosen 1964 as there’s a vast range of adverts from that time when horticultural machinery was progressing and developing. From the ever-popular Merry Tiller, the Auto Culto, Bolens Husky and Spraygen to more unusual machines like the Remington ‘Speed Till’ and the Pulvo lawn aerator. 

The 1964 image, above right corner, shows an array of machinery with an unsure customer potentially dithering over buying a lawnmower, the pros, the cons, a wise and worthwhile investment in choosing the right machine and a million miles away from some of the short-lived (nay disposable) machinery of today.

Incidentally, can anyone identify the mower the salesman is trying to sell? 

These following adverts are all from 1964 and shows a small selection of equipment available from secateurs to ride on mowers and each of them vying for the customers attention.

Click on the adverts for larger images.

Bolens Husky 600, 800, Estate Keeper advert. Mini Tractors, Chew Magna, Bristol.

Bolens Husky 600, 800, Estate Keeper advert. Mini Tractors, Chew Magna, Bristol.

Secateurs and Shears from Greensleeves, E.P.Barrus LTD and C.K in 1964 with prices.

Secateurs and Shears from Greensleeves, E.P.Barrus LTD and C.K in 1964 with prices.

Mayfield Tractor 1964. Mayfield Engineering (Croydon) Ltd, Littlehampton,. Sussex.

Mayfield Tractor 1964. Mayfield Engineering (Croydon) Ltd, Littlehampton,. Sussex.

Gardenmaster Limited, Planet JR Drills and Tarpen Hoe in 1964

Gardenmaster Limited, Planet JR Drills and Tarpen Hoe in 1964

Pulvo Lawn Aerator by Lloyd & Partners London. Spraygen No 210 Sprayer, R. Harris LTD Birmingham in 1964

Pulvo Lawn Aerator by Lloyd & Partners London. Spraygen No 210 Sprayer, R. Harris LTD Birmingham in 1964

Qualcast Rotacut MKV and Suffolk Corporation mower. Sunnyhill Avenue, Derby. 1964

Qualcast Rotacut MKV and Suffolk Corporation mower. Sunnyhill Avenue, Derby. 1964

Quillot Fertilizer Spreader, from Quillot Limited, Telworth, Surbiton, Surrey. and Sisis lawn equipment from W.Hargreaves & Co. LTD, Macclesfield Cheshire.

Quillot Fertilizer Spreader, from Quillot Limited, Telworth, Surbiton, Surrey. and Sisis lawn equipment from W.Hargreaves & Co. LTD, Macclesfield Cheshire.

Remington Speed Till 1964 UK Advert

Remington Speed Till 1964 UK Advert

Nash Boadicea Rotary Mower £25, and Ladybird Appliances LTD electric mowers 1964

Nash Boadicea Rotary Mower £25, and Ladybird Appliances LTD electric mowers 1964

Allen Scyhte advert and the Bqromox 'Nippy' from York Forge & Welding, Birmingham 1964

Allen Scythe advert and the Baromox ‘Nippy’ from York Forge & Welding, Birmingham 1964

Auto-Culto , De Montfort Road, Reading, Berkshire. And Wolseley Merry Tiller cultivator, £58-4-0 in 1964

Auto-Culto, De Montfort Road, Reading, Berkshire. And Wolseley Merry Tiller cultivator, £58-4-0 in 1964