A Little Lawn Mower History

by admin on 23 September 2013

Lawn Mower by miggslives
Flickr.com, from miggslives

This article was originally published here in June 2008. It has now been moved to a different part of the site.

Before the invention of the lawn mower (or lawnmower) only the rich could afford large expanses of lawn. A farmer could, of course, keep grass down to a reasonable length by grazing his animals on it, but the way of getting a really neat appearance was to have a troop of garden staff armed with scythes and shears.

Then in 1830 Edwin Budding, an Englishman from Stroud in Gloucestershire, had a bright idea. He was in a textile factory watching a roller-blade machine smoothing the surface of a fabric when the thought struck him. Why not combine a scythe blade with a wheel? He experimented and eventually came up with an arrangement of several blades mounted between two wheels. As the machine moved forward the wheels turned and the blades sliced through the grass. From these beginnings have emerged both the simple manual lawn mower and the great variety of advanced grass-cutting technologies of the present day.

 


Click on the book pic or below
for details at Amazon.com
American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn

Initially, of course, the mowers were pushed or pulled by hand – and for a century it was hard work. Some people attached mowers to harnesses and had their ponies pull them, but someone still had to walk behind and controlling the animal was not always easy! Today, of course, there’s a move back to pushing manual lawn mowers as people try to go “back to nature” and reduce hydrocarbon emissions

At the time of writing this article there is apparently on display in a Chicago exhibition something described as the “missing link” in lawn mower evolution. It consists of a tricycle with a rotary grass cutter built in between the rear wheels. Whether something like that existed in the past seems doubtful, but one has to ask why. After all, in the years before electric and liquid fueled mowers its inventor could have made a small (or not-so-small) fortune. Is this the way forward for a pollution-conscious era?

 



Click on the book pic or below
for details at Amazon.com
American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn

 

In the unconscious absence of the tricycle mower, however, something had to be done to fit grass cutting into the age of labour-saving devices. Very shortly after applying for his patent, Edwin Budding went into partnership with another engineer and started to manufacture mowers. He also sold licenses for other companies to manufacture similar products and one of these companies was Ransomes of Ipswich in the east of England. Ransomes started making lawn mowers in 1832 and the company still exists. It was bought in 1998 by Textron of the USA, who then put it together with the Jacobsen brand to create Ransomes Jacobsen.

Lawn mower developments in the 20th century

Returning to more than a century ago, for some years steam power was used to pull mowers but it was always cumbersome, and then in 1902 Ransomes introduced the world’s first petrol driven lawn mower. This British company did not rest on its laurels but continued with its programme of innovation. It was doing many imaginative things with electrical power in fields such as the trolley-bus and the battery-powered truck, and then in 1926 brought out the first electric lawn mower powered from a mains supply.

Companies such as Atco and Qualcast flourished during the 1920s and there was much experimentation with different combinations of features. The rotary blade cutter, with its horizontal cutting action, was developed. Larger lawn areas called for machines on which the user could sit and drive, so the riding lawn mower came into being – although the original developers of these machines could surely not have imagined that there would eventually develop a sport of lawn mower racing with speeds in excess of fifty miles per hour! As lighter engines and plastic components became available the technology moved on further. Flymo introduced and popularised the hover mower in the 1960s, making life much easier for the owner of a small lawn.

And so we move on. The mulching mower, machines for working on steep embankments, machines designed for high-grade twenty-first century golf courses, tennis courts, bowling greens, sports fields, and much more. Electrical technologies have moved on apace over recent decades so that now rechargeable batteries are available to power cordless lawn mowers capable of covering large amounts of ground between recharges. And then we mustn’t forget what surely must be the ultimate in labour-saving lawn-care, the robotic lawn mower which allows its owner to sit in a deck chair sipping a drink while the faithful machine runs around the lawn unsupervised and when finished returns to its docking station to recharge for next time.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Coming at the end of February (but it can be ordered in advance now) is a lawn mower book for children. The rusty old lawn mower turns out to be more than it seems. It is ferociously hungry for grass. Can they keep the magic mower under control, or will it just go its own way?

An entertaining story for the youngsters, either to read themselves or for story-time with mum, dad, uncle or auntie. Lawn Mower Magic (Stepping Stone Book(tm)) will surely be a hit with the kids.

Order now through Amazon.co.uk

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

International Lawn Mower Racing News

by admin on 20 October 2011

Lawn mower racing, lawnmower races by lnkshaw
Flickr.com, from lnkshaw

[We'll test this over time and try to improve the relevance of news items
Currently selecting from the Yahoo! news feed using keyword phrase, lawnmower_racing]


[CaRP] XML error: XML_ERR_NAME_REQUIRED at line 1 -

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Lawn Mower Racing – 6 Hour Event

by admin on 23 September 2011

The North West Lawn Mower Racing Association 6-hour event will be held at Little Morton, Retford, Nottinghamshire, on 8th & 9th October 2011

Entries Close: Friday 30th September 2011

For further details see North West Lawn Mower Racing Association.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }