by alan

1951 Exhibitions

July 21, 2020 in Articles, Machinery

Pickfords transporting a locomotive to the Festival of Britain

On the 4th May 1951 the Festival of Britain opened to the public. Newspaper reports say that the idea first began to mark the centenary of the Great Exhibition in London in 1851. The main 1951 Festival was located on a 27 acre site on the South Bank, London, and promoted industry, arts and science and inspired a vision of Britain in the future. Other locations included Belfast, Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Canterbury etc. and events took place in numerous cities, towns and villages bringing the country together.

A vast array of exhibitors, events, crafts and craftsmen took part. The picture shows Pickfords negotiating the streets of St. Albans as they transported a locomotive from Lancashire to London as an exhibit for the Festival. 

Find out more about the Festival on Wikipedia: Wikipedia Link

The Council of Industrial Design compiled a list of items for display at the Festival of Britain, these included furniture with a preoccupation of plywood and brightly coloured fabrics. Household items, artwork, science, agriculture, industry and machinery right up to locomotives as we have seen. But I cannot find if any of the well known manufacturers of horticultural, grounds or garden machinery took part. Does anyone know? 

Allen Scythe Saw Bench

However I have report from the same year of 1951 for the National Association of Groundsmans Exhibition in October 1951. This was held at the Hurlingham Club, London; on, it would seem, perfectly manicured lawns. Fifty-two companies took part showing their products.

We can see that in 1951 a large number of interesting items were being displayed. These included the latest attachment for the Allen Scythe. It was a saw bench with a 16″ diameter blade capable of cutting to 6″, it has an adjustable guard. Other equipment were a power sprayer, electric generator and a front-mounted rotary brush which can be seen in the image behind the saw bench. 

Ransomes-Sisis Aero Main

Items from Sisis also appear. The advertised “Ransomes-Sisis Aero Main” with attached turf aerator could work at a claimed 4mph and put 250,000 holes into two acres per hour. Rakes, rollers and brushes were available as attachments. Available from Hargreaves Ltd, Sisis Works, Cheadle, and Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies Ltd, Ipswich. 

1hp Dorman Sprayer

The Dorman Sprayer Co. from Cambridge had a power-driven sprayer suitable for fields, orchards or gardens. It had a 15 gallons tank, treated against corrosion and a 1hp engine. Are there any of these sprayers still in existence? 

Gravely Estate Power Unit

Another machine that looks mighty interesting was the Estate Power Unit from Gravely Overseas Ltd, Buckfastleigh, Devon. This two-wheeled unit had a 2.5hp four stroke engine with forward and reverse gears and a speed of up to 3mph. It could be fitted with a 42″ cutter bar mower, a 24″ cylinder mower, hedge trimmer, pump, generator, compressor, 8″ plough, cultivating tool frame and a cart. Is this Estate Power Unit another machine that has vanished or has someone got an example in their shed? 

Two intriguing photographs to finish. The first is the plant protection stand at the Groundsmans Exhibition. It was housed in a caravan which was described as ‘gleaming in chromium plate and perspex’ which sums up the modern and bright future that may lay ahead. The second photograph is a general view, showing the stands of T. Parker & Sons and John Allen & Sons. I wonder what all the machinery on display was? Can you name the tractor on the right-hand side? 

If anyone knows any machinery that was at the Festival of Britain in 1951 then we’d be pleased to hear. 

The Plant Protection stand at the Groundsmans Exhibition. A caravan in chromium plate and perspex.

T. Parker & Sons and John Allen & Sons stands, 1951.

Note: Images/media are used for research/illustration purposes for non-profit only with copyright held by respective publishers where and as applicable. 

by alan

Sprayers, Misters & Dusters *cough, splutter*

September 25, 2017 in Articles

I have been collecting some sprayer demonstration images for a few months now, and for a bit of light-hearted fun, these images show the marvelous ingenuity and brave stupidity of some of the sprayers and dusters that graced the mid-20th Century. There were certainly some clever chaps on our shores who took the bull by the horns and from a few bits of pipe, a two-stroke engine and sheer determination created sprayers and dusters to rid the land of pesky pests with the aim of better crops all around. 

OK, on the negative side perhaps killing bugs wasn’t always advantageous to the whole food chain but in 1951 it was estimated that in many parts of the world 10% of food crops and in some cases as much as 20% were spoiled by pests and disease. Where there’s a potential problem then there’s someone with a potential answer and our chaps stepped in with a multitude of solutions.

Observe from the pictures the ingenuity of the people who designed and made these machines – and the machines worked too!

Pests and bugs exist everywhere and the first image (below) that caught my eye was a sprayer for use in limited areas where bugs have found a safe haven – like under a rock half way up a mountain pass. This sprayer was affixed to a donkey which is ideally suited for difficult terrain such as mountainous areas or Blackpool beach. It comprises of a hopper with 30lbs of dust and is powered by a Villiers engine rattling in the donkey’s ears. The sprayer never went into production and donkey number 26 got a reprieve. 

Donkey sprayer in demo mode

Donkey power can only be surpassed by one other and that is Camel power. The sprayer pictured below was developed in the UK for use in the cotton fields of Sudan and two panniers each held a 15 gallon plastic tank. The camel was provided by a local zoo for the demo day, the camel looking suitably miffed that it has had it’s day off completely ruined.

Camel powered sprayer proving difficult to attach at a demonstration 1951.

Health and safety was never of the utmost importance yet at these demonstrations one cannot be sure what was being sprayed or at whom, this seems to be a recurring theme through all the following images. Observe the chap below with a Drake and Fletcher exhibit and cigarette in mouth, the 1947 caption actually reads “This is a good one!!”. We hope the chemical could not ignite. 

“This is a good one!!”

…Or how about just spraying the visitors during a demonstration?

Dusting demo at Wroxham 1959

Seeing sprayers demonstrated at an events day is possibly a good idea, yet old images make it seem a little primitive somehow. This 1947 Skip Crop Duster shown below was described directly as using a bicycle wheel – why invent the wheel when one already exists? Used for distributing insecticide between narrow rows it is demonstrated in a somewhat back-ache inducing position. 

Skip Crop Duster 1947 with cycle wheel at the front and soon to be crippled operator at the rear.

Fancy something that can be ridden? Then, below, enter stage-right one car (in lieu of a tractor), trailer and a spraying machine. Designed for dusting high trees and no doubt drifting over the outskirts of the nearest town this machine could decimate bugs galore at whatever height they decided to hide. On the back of the trailer is a large letter T for ‘trailer’.  This machine was actually called the ‘Dustejecta’ – great name. To me this image looks like the exhibitor is setting off home across the showfield but has accidentally left the machine running.

1951 Dustejecta for trees and high places

The Power Dusting Machine, below, was designed to be people-powered and designed for rough ground where a couple of unwilling accomplices could drag the machine along, over, or up whilst the operator used the hose for bug reduction purposes. It seems very labour intensive. Protection was not high on the agenda although suits and ties were. 

Power Dusting Machine, Evesham. 1951

Finally an image from 1938 of another great machine, sadly no photos of it in use but you can imagine the workers designing the machine, carefully working out how it would operate and function in the field, with the folk in the workshop and foundry making the parts, they would have been immensely proud of their work in producing this sprayer. This is the magnificent British made Drake & Fletcher ‘Mistifier’. Anyone got one, I’d like to have a go and I’ll bring my proper Health & Safety gear!

Drake and Fletcher ‘Mistifier’ 1938

by alan

1936 Catalogue Sprayers

February 21, 2017 in Articles

A popular paste distemper. 28Lbs for 4/6.

A popular paste distemper. 28Lbs for 4/6.

It’s 1936 and we are looking through the latest catalogues for a new sprayer, the choice is wide with sprayers to suit every budget and every spraying need. A new sprayer may be needed because there’s a new job such as whitewashing to be done as in the image on the right, or perhaps the old sprayer has started to fail and corrode from sulphur or lime, or even there’s been some dubious chemical through the old sprayer such as Corry’s ‘Weed Death‘ which was advertised as ‘Better than Arsenic‘ for killing weeds and plants, their adverts were a bit grim and macabre, we’ll thoroughly wash our hands and move on.

Whatever the reason for a shiny new sprayer, they start at a low-price point, or as we say in Yorkshire ‘For the more economically-minded man’. An all-purpose hand sprayer for spraying fruit and roses, bushes, crops, limewashing, creosoting and disinfecting was available for 23/- as in the image below. This was probably a good entry point sprayer but a pneumatic sprayer would be even better…..

1936 Complete all-purpose spaying outfit

1936 Complete all-purpose spaying outfit

For the greenhouse a small handheld pneumatic sprayer would be ideal as in image A below. This sprayer ‘being made with tubular handle is most useful for spraying grapes, rose trees, and tall plants out of reach of the ordinary sprayer by fixing same on pole or ordinary bamboo lance‘ – so now we know why some sprayers have hollow handles!

The knapsack sprayers in images B and C were able to hold a greater volume of liquid with B being able to spray corrosive liquids too. Knapsack sprayer C had to be specified with a tinned copper container in order to spray corrosives such as lime and sulphur. This knapsack sprayer was quoted as being ‘The strongest and best finished Knapsack Sprayer on the market‘ with the best leather shoulder straps and a 39 inch lance. 

Pneumatic hand sprayer and knapsack sprayers

Pneumatic hand sprayer and knapsack sprayers

The pneumatic sprayer in image F below was particularly suitable for disinfectants and insecticides and could either be carried on the back or sat on the ground during use. The bucket sprayer D and Non-splash sprayer E were also ground-dwelling sprayers. The bucket sprayer is a very common item often seen at sales, complete with a four gallon bucket and a double-action brass spray pump it also came with an all-metal strainer to keep lumps out of the mixture when filling and cost 35/- complete in 1936. 

The Non-splash sprayer in image E was ‘an entirely new departure in spraying machine construction…built on the lines of a milk churn..with a zinc gauze strainer thereby obviating all danger of the liquid splashing when being transported‘. It was fully guaranteed to give many years excellent service and was also 35/- or 39/- with lever handle.

Vintage bucket sprayers including non-splash and pneumatic

Vintage bucket sprayers including non-splash and pneumatic

The lever spraying machine, image below left, was suited to large areas of limewashing, the lever action enabling a high pressure to be gained and a finer spray too. The hose connection could be swapped over so the machine could be used either left or right-handed. The barrow sprayer, right image, is another lever-pump sprayer suitable for all classes of spraying with the pump being detachable so the barrow could be used for carrying water, rubbish or many other goods and as a multipurpose item was painted green rather than being unpainted, was this so it blended into the garden better or just a selling point?

Lever spraying machine and a barrow sprayer

Lever spraying machine and a barrow sprayer

But in the world of sprayers bigger with more gadgets could be better. The single-wheeled water barrow sprayer in the right image below has a galvanized tank measuring 16″ x 18″ x 12″ (10 gallons) which is painted inside and out, with an anti-spill rim and sprayers for plants, a jet for windows and also for car washing too. The first car power washer documented?

We have included here the swing water barrow on the left because it’s so advanced for loading water into itself with a hand-powered 1 & 3/4 inch semi-rotary pump with air vessel. Ideal for carrying water about for cleaning up after white washing the buildings. Price? A 40 gallon barrow with rotary pump and wheels for 96/- . 

Vintage Swing Water Barrow Sprayers

Vintage Swing Water Barrow and Barrow Sprayer

Although the sprayers are unmarked there’s a reference to Westhill sprayers, more than likely the sprayers were mainly from that one supplier.