The Hall & Duck Trust

Collectors of vintage lawnmowers

Part 2: 1850s - 1870s

By 1852 Ferrabee had made improvements to the original Budding design and added two more sizes, a 30in and a 36in machine. By now they had sold upwards of 4,000 machines. In their advertisements for 1852 they stated that only mowers marked Budding were guaranteed a suggestion of competition from a new source. In fact what happened was that the Patent Office had started to allow lawn mower improvements in design to be patented and this opened up the field to others. The first patented improvement was that of Samuel Boyd in 1854. The company which manufactured the machine were Samuelson of Banbury, agricultural implement makers. The mower designed was on the same principle as Budding except that it was lighter in draught and easier.

In 1855 a new contender, Thomas Green of Leeds, entered the field of lawn mower manufacturers. Thomas Green was a blacksmith and maker of wrought iron gates who that year designed a machine which could be drawn from behind (in fact Shanks sold the same design in August 1856). Green made improvements on the Budding design by reducing its weight by one third and added a rake to lift the grass before it was cut. This mower was produced in a wide range of sizes from the smallest of 8in to the largest at 42in. A 48in model was tried but it was found that too much flex and wear on the gears made it impracticable.

The first lawn mower trial took place in the London Horticultural Gardens at Chiswick in 1858. The trial area was at the side of the arboretum and plots were drawn of equal size. The entrants were Shanks, Ferrabee, Samuelson and Green. They all brought machines of 22in width, excepting for Green whose machine was a 24in model. Green's machine was judged the best with Shanks and Ferrabee runners up. Samuelson was placed last, having received a poor write up because the gears kept clogging. That same year, after selling some 1,500 machines, Ransomes stopped producing the Budding mowers. Instead they became wholesalers for Thomas Green and Shanks. The following year Ferrabee's son James took over the engineering works and made improvements to the Budding design.

Thomas Green patented the first lawn mower to be driven by
chains, a fundamental development because chain drive meant
a lighter machine. He named this machine the Silens Messor
which implies silent running. Although the Silens Messor range
altered shape over the years the fundamental principles did not
and the range was to become the backbone to Thomas Green's
business until production finally ended in 1935.

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