by alan

Then and Now – 1910

April 29, 2018 in Articles

Our latest Then & Now picture is from 1910 and features Ashton’s of East Sheen. The sign in the window announcing the stock of Garden Tools & Requisites and the array of merchandise on the pavement tells us that they probably stocked everything the early 20th century gardener could want.

The image is typical of many shops from that time. Ashton’s featured an expensive curved glass window on the corner, the thermometer  on the wall to the left of the image, the lamps hanging on elegant supports and the impressive sign writing to catch the eye – one would like to think this was a shop of some quality.

The items on display include wooden D handled spades by the entrance, incinerators (of the same design of today), a display of hand tools in the window along with wire netting and seed adverts. The timber wheelbarrow looks a beast with a steel-rimmed wheel and even if some person tried to schlep it away down the street they’d no doubt be out of breath after a couple of hundred yards. 

The lawnmowers and particularly the rollers are of interest. I’m guessing they may have been manufactured by Thomas Green & Sons who were at the New Surrey Works, Southwark Street, London about a ten mile distance from Ashton’s shop. 

But long gone is Ashton’s, little did they know that a century later their wares would make an awesome horticultural display at a vintage show: They’d have thought we were mad!

And now the shop is a fast food outlet as in the image below.

by alan

What was on sale in 1960….

March 16, 2018 in Articles, Machinery

A selection of garden equipment in 1960

1960 is our year of choice for this article, it was the year that The Beatles was officially named and formed, the Mark 1 Mini had only just recently been introduced and in space exploration the first probe was launched to go to Mars although it failed to reach it’s target. 

Back down on earth and with our new Mini on the driveway trying to out-shine next doors Morris Oxford, there was also a whole host of equipment available for the garden.

The image on the right shows some of the items that no self-respecting suburban homeowner should be without to keep their garden as tidy as possible.

Clockwise from top left is the Fisons Evergreen fertilizer spreader able to treat 64 sq yards of lawn on each fill-up. The price was 59s 6d for the spreader and the fertilizer itself was from 3s 11d. 

The Greensleaves garden shears on top of the box were 34s 6d and were available from Derry & Toms the London department store in Kensington. 

For a more upmarket experience why not shop at Harrods? They were retailing the illustrated lawn roller which could be filled with either water or sand, available in several sizes with a range of prices starting at £3 7s 11d up to nearly £7. One’s chauffeur could fetch it home for ones gardener…..

The Army & Navy Stores were selling the small Webb Lawn Trimmer push mower for the smaller areas of lawn for £7 19s 7d, whilst the push lawn aerator was £4 15s and another Harrods purchase. 

The Tarpen Little Giant chainsaw in the very bottom right corner of the first picture could be used with a single hand and cut through 4″ branches, the price to you in 1960 was £22. 


Shay Rotogardner 125

There were many machines on sale in 1960 which were engine powered. One such was the self-propelled Shay Rotogardner 125, pictured right, powered by a “four-stroke Aspera engine and impulse starter making it easy to operate” according to sales literature. It had specially tempered steel tines that “will break up any soil“. The cost of the complete machine as pictured was £67. 

Or how about something to cut the lawn such as the Ransomes Sprite pictured below. In April 1960 Ransomes were advertising this as a new mower with 14″ cut and as being ‘the lowest priced motor mower in it’s class‘ costing £32.17s.3d. For something more expensive on sale at the same time and also from Ransomes was their Marquis mower with 18″ or 20″ cut powered by a Clinton 4-stroke 117cc engine, prices started at £74.1s.9d, and £89.0s.6d for the 20″, an electric version was also available.


Ransomes 14″ cut Sprite for £32.17s.3d.

Webb battery mower

Through the decades battery-powered machines have been a bit of a novelty, if one didn’t want a petrol mower or be tethered by an electric cable to a three-pin plug then in late 1960 Webb had the answer with their ‘new to the market‘ rechargeable battery mower model, no mess, no fumes or noise. Webb previously showcased a remote controlled battery mower to the general public in 1959 at the Chelsea Flower Show but this one is just the ordinary walk-behind type – there’s a great vintage image on our Webb gallery of a sale of a battery mower taking place.

The battery mower cost £58.19s.5d for the 14″ cut and £48.19s.10d for the 12″ cut. They were available from ‘all large stores and hardware shops‘ so Webb were reaching out to a large customer base and could see some potential.

Still in 1960, Godfrey’s of Marylebone Lane, London, were advertising the “Allen Universal Self-propelled Motor Scythe” with a two or four stroke Villiers engine – pictured below.

The image shows it with an attached spray tank and four foot lance, apparently all the attachments just plugged in. The machine itself was £98.15s; the spray tank was £23.10s; spray pump including lance was an additional £39.4s.6d. 

Allen Scythe with spray tank, pump and lance

Hayter Scythe with a Villiers 4-stroke engine.

Several manufacturers designed machines that were able to take attachments just like the Allen scythe could with the sprayer. Hayter made the Hayter Scythe – pictured right is a model which consisted of a power unit that could be used as a rotary scythe or cylinder mower. Powered by a Villiers 4-stroke, 265cc engine and with a three-speed gearbox and kick start the machine had adjustable cutting height for the scythe attachment and could be converted to a 30″ cylinder mower complete with roller, a good machine for a larger garden where the most use could be gained from it. Again available from Godfreys, or A.T.Oliver & Sons, Luton or our favourite (who most have sold every machine ever created) Robert. H. Andrews Ltd, Sunningdale. Price: £119.10s; cylinder mower an extra £47.16s; and the grass box another £7. 15s. 

For helping around the garden in the early 60’s, the Army & Navy Stores were selling a light but strong metal wheelbarrow with pneumatic tyres for £15.4s.6d. The image below shows it fitted with a useful screen for sifting soil made by Barrowscreen. Sold by Woodmans of Pinner the Barrowscreen cost 34s 11d and could fit any barrow.

Wheelbarrow by Army & Navy Stores 1960. Fitted with a soil sifting Barrowscreen.

Finally, two smaller items which could have graced a 60’s shed was a flame gun on wheels called the Sheen-X. and also garden sprinklers from the American Everain range, both items illustrated below.

The Sheen-X had a tank that could hold one gallon of paraffin and could destroy surface and deep rooted weeds with ease. Price was £12.17s.  The Everain sprinklers were both adjustable, the larger one could cover up to 2400 square feet, the smaller one a 50 foot diameter. Prices were £6.7s.6d and £3.12s respectively.

Sheen-X paraffin powered flame gun.

Everain garden sprinklers.

by alan

Build a Better Wheelbarrow

August 20, 2016 in Articles, Uncategorized

Ironcrete Joyride 1968

Ironcrete Joyride 1968

The wheelbarrow is indispensable for moving soil, loose materials and tools around. Easy to use, manoeuvre and depending upon the ability of the driver and the grip of one’s boots a wheelbarrow can traverse the trickiest of terrain. But is there a better solution?

Over the decades manufacturers have tried to redesign the humble wheelbarrow, even create something more cutting-edge as in the Kirk-Dyson Ballbarrow of the mid 1970’s (image below). Mechanisation always plays a part too, why not add an engine, or even add a barrow body as an add-on item to an existing machine to give it another use? Everything, including wheelbarrows slowly evolve and change from a pedestrian operated item to specific engine powered machines as in the images of many different machines posted below. 

Kirk-Dyson Ball Barrow

Kirk-Dyson BallBarrow

Historically wheelbarrows go back many centuries but the one that gardeners would associate as being ‘old’ is a wooden affair of hefty construction that’s a load in itself. Take the 1909 wheelbarrow (image below) from Coopers of London, made of the best elm boards, ash legs and wheel and ‘well ironed up’ this was a piece of construction once loaded up to test the ability of a young Edwardian under-gardener.

Wheelbarrow from Coopers of Old Kent Road, London. 1909

At the other end of the scale are the 1960’s lightweight yet sturdy wheelbarrows from Ironcrete. These were a large range of wheelbarrows to suit the busy gardener and available with either a galvanized or a red polythene body. Ironcrete wheelbarrows had a lightweight tubular frame and either a solid narrow wheel or a pneumatic tyre. This is something our Edwardian gardener would have dearly loved to have had no doubt. 

The load capacity of the Ironcrete ‘Whopper’ (what a brilliant name!) could be increased with an extension top taking it’s capacity from 4 cu ft and doubling it to 8 cu ft for the adventurous gardener. 

Ironcrete Wheelbarrows from the 1960's.

Ironcrete Wheelbarrows from the 1960’s. The galvanised ‘Whopper’ could have additional side extensions doubling it’s capacity (and unstable-ness no doubt).

Although deviating from the true shape of a wheelbarrow, Ironcrete also created the oddly named ‘Joyride’. A pull-along and push-around affair with two small wheels and an optional tool tray. It’s advertising states that it is ‘Most suitable for ladies and those who find an ordinary wheelbarrow too heavy to manoeuver‘. 

Ironcrete Joyride with optional tool tray.

Ironcrete Joyride with optional tool tray.

In the mid 1960’s British Anzani made something similar to the Joyride and called it the ‘FoldAKart‘ which could be used as a barrow or attached to the back of the British Anzani Lawnrider mower.  Obviously it’s master stroke over all the other wheelbarrows and carts was that it could be folded quickly for easy storage. It also had the British Anzani name which made it stand out as a strong and robust make. 

British Anzani FoldAKArt advert and photo - £9 9s in 1964 for the FoldAKart

British Anzani FoldAKart advert and photo – £9 9s in 1964 for the FoldAKart

As mentioned, wheelbarrow type bodies became added to other tools to increase their usability, a great idea! Amongst the attachments available for the Jalo push hoe such as ploughs and cultivators was indeed a barrow body. This appears to be a clever attachment and not one that would be instantly thought of. 

Jalo Barrow Attachemnet (Ivan Clark)

Jalo Barrow Attachment (Ivan Clark)

Flymo the well known lawnmower manufacturer who also produced a multitude of other garden machines had a barrow attachment for their DM garden tiller, as the advertising says it’s ‘The motorised wheelbarrow that also digs your garden‘, although to be fair I think there’s a fair bit of operator presence required to achieve the task. 

Wheelbarrow attachment for the Flymo DM tiller cultivator

Wheelbarrow attachment for the Flymo DM tiller cultivator

Merry Tiller had amongst it’s fantastic range of extras a load carrier. Not a true wheelbarrow but a motorised helping-hand to get items from A to B with as little effort as possible. 

Merry Tiller Load Carrier

Merry Tiller Load Carrier

Similarly Mayfield also had a great range of attachments. See an image of their brochure.  They also included a front barrow attachment for moving large loads around the plot. 

Mayfield Barrow Attachment

Mayfield Barrow Attachment

The advantages of having a barrow to move items around was not lost of Barford either. Making  ‘A Tipping Truck every Gardener Needs’  to go with the Barford Atom it was ‘a most useful conveyance for garden refuse and produce

BArford Atom Tipping Truck and Advert

Barford Atom Tipping Truck and Advert

Another two manufacturers were Winget, the makers of tractors and also dumpers made the Winget Power Barrow (image left) and Allen made a load carrier (image right) for their Allen Scythe although it does appears a little precarious depending on the load.

Winget Power Barrow and Allen Scythe Load Carrier

Winget Power Barrow and Allen Scythe Load Carrier

Ride on mower manufacturers were not going to miss a trick either and Snapper made a front load carrier for their 1960s/70s Snapper Comet Ride on mower.

Snapper Comet Load Carrier

Snapper Comet Load Carrier

AutoBarrow 1974 Vintage Advert

AutoBarrow 1974 Vintage Advert

There are some other notable manufacturers specifically making load-carrying machines. The most obvious is probably Autobarrow (image right) with a various range of items for their multi-purpose handling unit.

Many other manufacturers have produced barrow attachments or made dumpers and carts over the decades. If you know of any additions then let us know.

Also have a look at the Trucks and Carts  gallery to see what else was available.