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Online Catalogue last updated 17th of September 2023

Iron Harvests of the Field by Peter Dewey

cover photo

At the beginning of the 18th century, 60 percent of the population was working on the land, but half a century later this figure had dropped to one fifth. The reason was that Britain was a world leader in the introduction of agricultural machinery. Technology moved from the threshing flail to the portable steam engine and finally into the modern world with its giant tractors and combine harvesters. This book covers the agricultural revolution, the technology of change and also the business background which involved not only multi-national firms but also locally based workshops and craft-based enterprises. Inventors and entrepreneurs included Robert Ransome who transformed plough design, William Marshall, whose business produced steam engines and threshing machines, and James Smyth, whose small farm in the Suffolk countryside sent high-grade seed drills all round the world. During World War I the industry, led by Fosters of Lincoln, expanded to meet the demand for munitions, producing shells, aircraft and tanks. After the war, overseas markets were lost and some British firms went under, but in the thirties a revolution in tractor design sent the Dagenham output soaring once again and new tractor firms were established, notably Harry Ferguson and David Brown. 21st century depression means that Britain now has only one tractor factory, but this book celebrates a world-changing achievement over 150 years. paperback, black and white photos, tables of production and exports.

Code No. 016038, 352 pages, $23.50

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