Club News

by alan

Quiz: Guess the company…

February 18, 2024 in Articles, Club News

From the eight clues can you name this famous company?

Since the December quizzes are always popular, here are some clues to pass a few minutes and work out the company name. The answer and a more detailed explanation of the company at the bottom of the page.

Which single company do all these clues refer to?

Clue 1: This company started to manufacture their machines in the UK in 1964, with the first adverts pricing the models around £35. The machines were a success and the company was acquired by a much larger entity in 1968.

Clue 2: The machines they produced were ideal for use on bankings, gradients, orchards, and other grassed areas.

Clue 3: The first models had two-stroke petrol engines, but in 1969 electric-powered models started to be introduced – these were ideal for the domestic garden where a power supply would readily be at hand.

Clue 4: One particular colour is usually associated with these machines, but early models were blue.

Clue 5: Models used the mulching principle, but in 1979 an electric-powered model was launched that was capable of collecting the grass clippings in a rear fabric grass bag. This model was advertised on television.

Clue 6: This company also produced electric-powered small cylinder mowers in the 1970s, and professional cylinder mowers in the 1980s, although the professional models were just rebadged Norlett machines.

Clue 7: From the late 1970s, a range of 4-wheeled rotary mowers were advertised. Many of these models used steel decks rather than the polymer material which the company is famous for. The Lawnchief, which did have a polymer deck, was a very popular rotary model with a 16″ cutting width and a 3.5 hp Tecumseh/ B&S engine or electric power.

Clue 8: Through the years model names have included the Contractor, Professional, Pilot, Minimo, Hovervac, Sprinter, Lawnlady, Chevron, and Ventura, to name just some.

Scroll down for the answer……

This 1969 photograph shows a Flymo, fitted with a wheeled undercarriage, being used to mow roadside verges.

The eight clues all point to one company which is Flymo.

Flymo started producing their hover mower range in 1964 at a factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham. Just four years later, in 1968, Flymo was bought by Electrolux. The Flymo range has been successfully developed and expanded over the decades.

The initial Flymo had a 2.5 hp 2-stroke Aspera engine and a 19″ hardened steel blade within a tough plastic hood. The ‘Professional’ version gained a power increase to a 4 hp engine. Other petrol engines in the hover mower stable have included Briggs & Stratton, JLO, Tecumseh, and Kawasaki.

A huge amount of electric hover mowers have been available. These have been staggeringly popular and cover a wide range of options, these include collectors such as the DXE which was launched in the late 1970s (clue number 5) and was advertised on TV. The DXE could either leave the clippings behind or collect them in a fabric grass bag that hung between the handles. In the 1980s, the Sprintmaster range could also collect grass clippings. The 1990s Hoverstripe models gained rear rollers. The smallest electric hover mower was from the Minimo range with a 10″ cutting width.

Flymo also produced a range of domestic cylinder mowers in the 1970s (clue number 6), they were called Lawnlady and Princess. These were very basic machines with small-sized cutting cylinders. In the 1980s, Norlett Precision cylinder mowers were rebadged as Flymo.

A large range of four-wheel rotary mowers complimented the hover range. They started in the late 1970s and covered many cutting widths, engine choices, push or self-propelled, and some early models that were front-wheel drive.

by alan

VHGMC Machinery Log Sheet – Download

January 17, 2024 in Articles, Club News

Here we are at the beginning of a new year and it won’t be that many weeks until the shows and events start. The first main event is Tractor World at the Three Counties Showground at Malvern on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th of February – more information:

If anyone needs a log sheet for their machines for any show – whether a main event or just a local show – then they can be downloaded from the VHGMC.

The VHGMC log sheet can be either filled in online and then printed, or can be downloaded to your computer.

The logsheets can be found in the member download section at:

Often members of the public will spend more time looking at an exhibit if there’s a log sheet that provides more than basic information. I recall watching members of the public perusing the horticultural exhibits at Newark tractor show a few years ago, the exhibits with interesting log sheets with date of manufacture, place of origin, a bit of background, and perhaps a story to tell, held the attention of the viewer far longer than those that just showed a basic machine model and name. We also saw that people take a photo of a log sheet as well as the machine it’s attached to. Remember that you can always add a page or two of restoration photos or extra information to go with your log sheet.

Horticulture Display at Malvern 2016

by alan

Quiz 2023

November 25, 2023 in Club News

Here are twelve questions for a short quiz.

These very random questions relate to horticultural items; technical knowledge is not required but a bit of guesswork might be useful.

A pencil and paper is handy to write down the answers.

As always, the answers (which are sometimes much longer than the questions) are at the bottom of the page.


Q1: What colour were Dixon machines in the UK?

1: An easy question to start with: All sold in the UK, the vintage Dixon ZTR (zero turn mowers) and the Ford and Homelite ranges of lawn and garden tractors used what paint colour?

A: Blue
B: Green
C: Yellow

Q2: Wolf rechargeable tools?

2: In the 1970s, Wolf Garden Tools were advertising their Power Pack System. This consisted of a rechargeable battery that could be used with a range of attachments – a very popular system used by major manufacturers today but appears not to be a new idea as Wolf was advertising it fifty years ago. Items were a shrub trimmer which could have a long handle attached for also being a grass trimmer, and a 35cm double-sided hedge trimmer. A third item that used the same rechargeable battery was also sold – but what was it?

A: Torch
B: Powered secateurs
C: Garden sprayer

Q3: Who did Allen buy in 1983?

3. After Flymos’ hover mower patent ran out, many manufacturers started to produce similar machines. Allen Power Equipment Ltd, which is known for making numerous models of horticultural machinery, eventually included hover mowers. In 1983, which manufacturer of hover mowers did Allen purchase?

A: Crown
B: Flymo
C: Black & Decker

Q4: What did Westwood sell?

4. Before starting to manufacture their Gazelle lawn and garden tractors in the 1970s, which American-made lawn tractors did Westwood Engineering Ltd import and sell in the UK?

A: Countax
B: Wolf
C: Dynamark

Q5: Which decade?

5. Electric strimmers/trimmers seem to have been around for a long time and early domestic models have been made by Black & Decker, Qualcast, Toro and AL-KO. But in which decade did Flymo decide to join the game and introduce its first electric trimmers? The models were the Mini-Trim and the Multi-Trim. And for an extra bonus point, can you name the exact year?

A: 1960s
B: 1980s
C: 2000s
……………………..and in which year?

Q6: What did Zundapp make?

6. The German company Zundapp made a range of motorbikes, scooters, microcars, and outboard motors that were sold in the UK in the 1950s and ’60s. But in the 1970s they also made which horticultural item that was sold in the UK?

A: Lawnmowers
B: Woodchippers
C: Hedgecutters

Q7: What colours are Bolens machines?

7. Starting in 1959, Bolens lawn and garden tractors and rear-engine riders have been available in the UK. But what colour schemes have they been painted?

A: Red and white
B: Gold and white
C: Green and white
D: Green and Yellow

Q8: What was the Huff-N-Puff?

8. Bob Andrews Ltd, The Garden Machine Centre, Sunningdale, Berkshire retailed a varied range of labour-saving machines. These included the popular Cyclone lawn spreader, the Spintrim lawn edger, and the Spurspike lawn aerator (it had a bucket at the front which could be filled with stones or sand etc to give added weight). In the late 1970s, Andrews sold a machine called the Huff-N-Puff, but what was the Huff-N-Puff ?

A: A petrol-powered outdoor vacuum that could suck up leaves and blow away litter.
B: A handheld electric leaf blower that could convert to suck up leaves into a barrow or trailer.
C: A pedestrian-pushed rotary brush that created a blowing effect as it swept.
…..Three intriguing answers above, but which one seems most likely?

Q9: What was the Farmer 300B?

9. The AL-KO Farmer 300B, Texas TV3, and Mountfield M1 Gardener are all examples of what type of machine?

A: Strimmers
B: Garden cultivators
C: Powered barrows

Q10: What year did Honda launch their mowers in the UK?

10. In which decade did Honda launch their first range of lawnmowers in the UK? And for a bonus point can you name the year?

A: 1960s
B: 1970s
C: 1980s
……………………..and in which year? Have a guess!

Q11: What was Spearwells’ lawn rake called?

11: In the late 1960s, Spearwell Tools Ltd (a combination of the companies Brades, Elwell and Spear & Jackson) were advertising a hand rake that was used for scarifying a lawn – it had curved tines (as in the image). This tool was pushed and pulled through the lawn to remove dead and matted grass and thatch. What was this lawn rake called?

A: The Scrake
B: The Moss-Boss
C: The Thatcher-Catcher

Q12: How much did this Texas hosepipe cost in 1980?

12: We probably all remember the DIY superstores called Focus DIY, Great Mills, Do-It-All and Texas DIY; it doesn’t seem that long since we were shopping in them. The domestic garden machines and products they sold are immortalised in archives of newspaper and television adverts. In 1980, Texas DIY was advertising many things including the £14.99 Yeoman Ballbarrow which was a small galvanised barrow with a football-sized sphere instead of a solid tyre – these barrows will now be 43 years old! They were also selling ‘Texas Reinforced Hosepipe’ which came in 50′ lengths. How much did their 50′ hosepipe cost?

A: £3.49
B: £10.99
C: £15.49


1: A: Blue. Dixon, Ford and Homelite all used blue as one of their main paint colours although all three also used white/cream for other tinwork and wheels.

2: C: Garden Sprayer. The rectangular-shaped sprayer could hold 3 litres and had a lance and nozzle much like a normal pressure sprayer. Complete with a battery and charger it cost £52 in 1978. The battery could recharge in 40-60 minutes.

3: A: Crown. Allen purchased Crown Horticultural Equipment Ltd, manufacturers of 2-stroke, 4-stroke, and electric hover mowers, in a £500,000 deal in May 1983.

4: C: Dynamark.  Westwood sold the USA-made Dynamark lawn tractors in the UK in the 1970s. The range included the 32″ cutting width D32R, 36″ D36R, and D36E and D1036E with electric start. There were also rear-engine rider models, though none appear to have survived in the UK – but the top-spec 8/36E with electric starter and headlights was £365 in 1973. For answers A and B, neither are USA makes, Countax being UK and Wolf being German…although Wolf did sell USA Yard-Man riders and lawn tractors rebranded as Wolf in the UK in the 1970s.

5: B: 1980s (1987). Flymo introduced their first electric strimmers in 1987. The models were the Mini-Trim and the Multi-Trim. The Multi-Trim could be converted to a lawn edger by twisting the cutting head. With an investment of £500K, the two models had taken three years to develop.

6: A: The German company Zundapp branched out into making lawnmowers. Several models of their two-stroke and electric-powered mowers were advertised and sold here in the early 1970s, but none seem to have survived. The mowers had yellow mower decks, red engine covers, and chrome handles.

7: A, B, C, and D: All the answers are correct. To mention a few: the Husky 800 and some Ride-a-matics were painted gold with white wheels; the early Ride-a-matics were green with yellow wheels; the Estate Keeper and Lawn Keeper were white with red wheels and detailing. Later Bolens were white and green.

8: A: The Huff-N-Puff was a petrol-powered pedestrian-pushed vacuum leaf collector – a mini Billy Goat vacuum for the smaller garden. It sucked the leaves or debris into a rear grass bag that hung from the handles. An optional wand (a flexible pipe that attached at the front end) enabled suction in confined spaces; the wand could also be attached at the rear, instead of the bag, and then it would be able to blow puddles off driveways and paths or “dislodge stubborn litter from shrub beds”. The Huff-N-Puff was £199+vat in 1979.

9: B: Garden Cultivators. In the 1980s, the AL-KO Farmer cultivator was available as a 3.5hp petrol or 1000-watt electric model; the Texas cultivators were advertised with 3hp – 5hp Briggs & Stratton engines, and the Mountfield M1 Gardener was shown with 3.5hp and 4hp Briggs & Stratton engines.

10: B: 1970s (1978). Honda launched their first mower, the rotary HR21, in the UK in August 1978.

11: A: The Scrake. Spearwells’ lawn rake was called the scrake – a portmanteau of the words scarify and rake. However, I think they should have called it the Moss-Boss, they really missed a marketing trick there. In 1968 the scrake was priced at £2.13s.6d – but the Moss-Boss name would have commanded a greater price.

12: A: £3.49. 50′ of reinforced hosepipe from Texas DIY in 1980 cost a bargain £3.49, and had been reduced from £3.99. Currently, in 2023, B&Q are selling a similar product for £19.95, I guess it’s all relative.

Phew! They took some compiling!

by alan

The Cultivator Magazine – April 2021

April 17, 2021 in Club News

Landing on VHGMC subscribers doorsteps shortly will be the April issue of ‘The Cultivator’.

This issue contains articles about the Gravely 430 tractor from Marcus Stephens, the British Anzani Iron Horse from Bryan Garnham; Gutbrod tractors from Steven Little, and part four about the Villiers Engineering company from Ian Barnes. Plus the events diary, classified adverts, and more. 

Members who have paid their yearly subscriptions can log in and download a digital version from the Members Download tab at the top of the page. 

by alan

2021 VHGMC Calendar

January 1, 2021 in Club News

There is a new 2021 VHGMC Calendar available for download. This has been created by Robert Page and contains some brilliant archive photographs.

The calendar can be downloaded from the Members Download Page .

A comment can be left in the forum to let us know you have downloaded the calendar. 

by alan

12 Christmas Questions 2020

December 18, 2020 in Articles, Club News

It is once again December and here are twelve horticultural questions we have gathered together to pass a few minutes.  The answers are at the bottom of the page. 

Last year’s questions can be found here: 2019 Christmas Questions.


Q1: Jonsered make a range of machines, but nationality was the founder?

1. Jonsered are famous for chainsaws, but also make a huge range of mowers, tillers, cultivators and powered equipment. Jonsered is based in the Swedish town of Jonsered. It was founded in 1832, but what nationality was the gentleman that founded the company?

A: Scottish
B: American
C: Australian



Q2: What does the Husqvarna logo represent?

2. We are all familiar with Husqvarna. Their current logo is a development of their original logo but what does it represent?

A: Cross section of their first engine crankcase
B: Gun sight viewed from the end of the barrel
C: Their family emblem from Huskvarna, Sweden. 


Q3: What was the distinguishing feature of the Wheel Horse B145 tractor?

3. In 1975 in the UK Wheel Horse launched the model B145 tractor which was aimed at warehouse and factory use for moving goods about. But what was the distinguishing feature of this machine that meant it required more than one battery?

A: It had electric power steering 
B: It was powered by electric
C: It had an electric fork-lift as standard


Q4: AYP in Orangeburg produced products carrying which brand name?

4. American Yard Products, better known as AYP (and associated with Electrolux), is based in Orangeburg, South Carolina. They produce a huge range of badge-engineered machines. But which of the following names did they make branded products for which were sold in the UK? 

A: Victa
B: Black & Decker 
C: Flymo


Q5: Allen sold the Gutbrod HB46B mower with what feature?

5.  In the mid 1980’s, Allen Power Equipment were advertising the Gutbod HB46B lawn mower. This was a really basic pedestrian pushed mower with a pressed steel shell, 47cm width of cut, 3.5hp Briggs and Stratton engine with recoil start and a maximum 4″ cut height. It cost £199.50 ex vat in the 1980’s. But what outstanding feature was it advertised as having? 

A: It had telescopic handles to suit all users across Europe
B: It had the largest grass collecting box in Europe
C: It had a flexible yet reinforced nylon cutting blade to withstand damage, an industry first in Europe. 


Q6: The Gilson YT11E had an unusual feature, but what?

6. Also in the 1980’s, Ensign Distribution Ltd of Sedgefield were advertising the Gilson YT11E garden tractor, available with an 11hp Briggs and Stratton engine and either a five speed manual transmission (£1675+vat) or hydrostatic drive (£2083+vat). They were able to take mower decks, dozer blade, snow blower and a rear tiller. But what unusual feature did the tractors have that needed to be done in order to start the engine? 

A: A pin code needed to be typed in on a keypad
B: A button on the steering wheel needed to be held in for five seconds
C: The gear/hydro shift selector had to be in a specific position labelled ‘Stop and Start’


Q7: Was it the Merry Tiller?

7. In the 1975 budget VAT was added to domestic use horticultural machines at the rate of 25%. The rate for commercial machines was 8%. At the time the definition of a commercial machine was (and I quote) “entirely subjective according to the manufacturers own estimation of his product” although there were guidelines. Regardless of it’s capabilities, which of these cultivators was classed as domestic in 1975? 

A: Howard Gem cultivators
B: Merry Tiller cultivators
C: Honda F80K cultivator


Q8: Do you remember the Guiness Book of World Records?

8. How many of us can remember getting the Guinness Book of World Records at Christmas? In 1989 a diesel  Iseki SG15 ride-on mower was in the Guinness Book of World Records because it had been driven between Harlow and Southend Pier, it’s a 40 mile distance between the two, but why did this feat enable it to be a record breaker? 

A: It was driven backwards the entire 40 mile distance in 5 hours and 51 minutes breaking the previous record by 34 minutes for a ride-on-mower in reverse covering that distance
B: It was driven back and forth between the two places until it had racked up 3034 miles
C: It achieved 34 mpg over an uninterupted 40 mile distance making it the most economical ride-on-mower on sale in the UK.


Q9: Who was based in Sheffield and originally started in 1730?

9. Garden centres sell a range of hand tools from companies such as Wilkinson Sword, Draper and Fiskars, with some other names just used for branding tools and marketing purposes. But which name, that can be found on hand tools, was originally started in 1730 and based in Sheffield? Was it: 

A: Ceka (CK) Tools 
B: Spearwell 
C: Burgon & Ball


Q10: Which company is associated with the Waterolla?

10. The 1970’s ‘Waterolla’ garden roller that could be filled with water or sand and now a much copied design was originally a product of which company? 

A: Poly-Gard Products
B: Kirk-Dyson
C: Gardena


Q11: What AL-KO product from the three would be easiest to get into an Austin Metro car?

11. An easy question: In the 1980’s which of these bright yellow painted machines sold by AL-KO Britain LTD would be easiest to fold up and without scratching the paintwork get into the back of a desirable Austin Metro car of the time? 

A: AL-KO Alkotrac 
B: AL-KO Corvet City 
C: AL-KO Farmer scythe


Q12: Who made the M3, M30, Super and Monarch models?

12. A range of machines, produced from the 1960’s and later, with the advertised model numbers and names of M3, M30, Super and Monarch, were by which manufacturer

A: Mountfield – retailed under the Mountfield name
B: Morrison – retailed under the Flymo name
C: Murray – retailed under the Hayter name



1: A: Scottish. Jonsered was founded in 1832 by Scotsman William Gibson. The company moved into making chainsaws in the mid 20th century. Jonsered was sold to Electrolux in 1978.

2: B: The Husqvarna logo is based on the image of a gun sight. The company was originally founded as the Jonkoping Rifle Factory in the 1600’s producing about 1500 musket pipes per year. Later, the company name changed to the Husqvarna Rifle Factory.

3: B: The Wheel Horse B145 was a battery powered tractor sold in the UK as a warehouse tug. It was based on an equivalent battery-powered garden tractor model by Elec-Trak, a company which Wheel Horse had purchased from General Electric. 

4: C: Flymo. American Yard Products (AYP) of Orangeburg, South Carolina, produced silver painted ride-on-mowers badge engineered as Flymo from the 1980’s. AYP had company associations with Electrolux and as such produced machines under many of the Electrolux brand names including Flymo, Poulan, Bernard and Sovereign to name a few. 

5: B: The Gutbrod HB46B had the largest grassbox in Europe at the time. How well-balanced and easy to push the machine was as the grassbox filled up, particularly with wet UK grass, was perhaps open to scrutiny.  

6: A: Pin code on a keypad. The Gilson YT11E  tractor in the 1980’s featured the ECAM 2000 Computer Monitoring and Testing setup. This required the user to type in a pin number on a keypad to start the tractor rather than using a key. ECAM 2000 also told the user when to change the oil, check the tractor or battery, alerted the driver when they were in reverse gear and whenever an implement such as mower or tiller was engaged.

7: B: Merry Tiller cultivators were classed as domestic machines and subject to 25% VAT from 1975. Surprisingly, most cultivators were classed as domestic although this did change over time. Initially in 1975 only the Howard Gems, Wolseley Twin-Six cultivator, Iseki K1000 30 and Honda F80K were deemed to be commercial machines and had 8% VAT. 

8: B: The Iseki SG15 with hydrostatic drive was driven back and forth for a total of 3034 miles between Harlow and Southend Pier in 1989. This made it the longest lawnmower drive at that date and why it entered the record books. 

9: C: Burgon & Ball which still exists in Sheffield has it’s company origins starting in 1730, their name can be found on garden tools being sold in garden centres and online today. By the mid-1800’s Charles Burgon and James Ball are listed as sheep shear manufacturers in Sheffield. Later they are listed as manufacturers of sheep shears, sickles, scythes, knives and garden shears. They registered their invention for “Improvement in the manufacture of sheep shears” in 1869, selling their patent sheep shears worldwide and exhibiting at the Sydney Exhibition in 1880. By 1900 it was an international company, but by the 1920’s the production of garden equipment had outstripped that of sheep shears.

10: B: Kirk-Dyson. In the 1970’s, the Waterolla garden roller which could be filled with water was being sold by Kirk-Dyson. One partner better known as James Dyson of vacuum cleaner fame. There was also the plastic bodied Ballbarrow which has a round football-type wheel and was a design by James Dyson.

11. B: In the early 1980’s the advertised AL-KO Corvet City was a small foldable electric lawnmower that took up little space. The Alkotrac was a lawn tractor and the Farmer scythe was a reasonably sized, pedestrian machine, petrol powered with an out-front scythe attachment. It’s a reasonable assumption that more AL-KO machines have survived than Austin Metros.

12: A: Mountfield made the M3 (mower), M30 (rider mower) and the Super and Monarch cultivators. The Australian company Morrison had associated with Flymo, and also Hayter with Murray. 

Did you get them all correct? 

by alan

Around The Country With Atco

August 23, 2020 in Club News

An Atco mower at the Hereford Bowling Club in 1929. The bowling green still exists.

Successful advertising can make all the difference to a brand. Displaying a product to the public can aspire them to owning one as well as convincing them they deserve something better than bog standard. Just think how cunning  the newspapers, magazines, TV or internet adverts are at convincing us to upgrade our ideas and our spending power, too.  Joe Bloggs may only have a patch of grass big enough for a 12″ push mower but advertising will do it’s hardest to convince him that a 14″ model would make more sense, no, perhaps a 16″, or even 18″ would be better and have (unneeded) added features too, how about petrol instead of electric, and self propelled would be an advantage. Eventually that £49.99 purchase becomes £349.99 and the newly acquired mower spends several weeks being hidden in the shed, hiding from the family, like the guilty secret it is. 

The better the advert then potentially the better the merchandise will be presented to the public. That’s the theory, anyway. Paying an advertising company to create convincing sales material to sell ones horticultural machinery should be a wise move. A good advert is easy to spot, advertising boffins have obviously spent time, considered how a range of adverts look and been compiled and the resulting consistency makes the public feel reassured. 

A new fleet of Atco liveried Morris vans outside the Morris premises at Foundry Lane, Soho, Birmingham, in 1932.

As an example, in 1967 Mountfield hired the services of Robinson, Scotland and Partners to create consistent adverts for their Mountfield and Wheel Horse machinery. Additionally, manufacturers did provide copy (text), images, incentives and assist franchised dealerships with advertising. I even have a set of Flymo printing plates for dealerships to use. 

Atco was another manufacturer who, from the following adverts, hired professionals to carefully craft adverts. From around the country they used photographs of well known landmarks, pristine properties and testimonials to create the ambiance that their mowers were far superior to any other make. Have a look at the six adverts below from the likes of The Crystal Palace and the Italian garden of Lord Birkenhead and see if the adverts convince you that their machines are the very best. 

1930 Atco advert. Trent Bridge, Nottingham, scene of the first test match beginning June 13th. Also the Oval, Brisbane, Australia. Both maintained by Atco lawnmowers.

Atco lawnmower used at the Crystal Palace, London, since 1924. As shown in this 1930 advert.

Battle Abbey, Sussex, had been using Atco lawnmowers since 1922.  Advert from 1930.

An Atco lawnmower was used by Sir Algernon Guiness at his home in Henfield. The property still exists but the pristine lawn does not.

Atco mowers were used at Hawarden Castle, Flint since 1926.

Lord Birkenhead used (or rather his gardener did) an Atco mower at the Italian gardens of his residence at Charlton, Banbury.

by alan

VHGMC in the Telegraph newspaper 2009

March 3, 2018 in Club News

In April 2009 the Telegraph newspaper ran an excellent article about the VHGMC with the headline of ‘Down Tools? Not these vintage gems’.

The Telegraph article can be read online and can be found at:

The VHGMC featured in the Telegraph newspaper in 2009 –  Click this image for a larger version


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


by alan

Newark Vintage Tractor Show Entries 2016 & Video from 2015

August 22, 2016 in Club News

VHGMC STand Newark Tractor Show 2015
Newark Vintage Tractor Show on the 12th and 13th November is fast approaching and the closing date for entries is the 16th September. 

Entry forms can be found at:

The VHGMC also has a video of images from the 2015 show to see what was there: