The Preston Guardian, Saturday, 26th
STEAM PLOUGHING IN THE
Thursday last, an experiment of an interesting character was tried on the Preese
Hall farm. One of the fields was announced to be ploughed on that day by the agency
of steam power, and as the event had been pretty widely advertised, there was a
great gathering of farmers and others to witness the performance. There were people
present from all parts of the Fylde, and as the railway company had promised that
they would stop the trains at the Todderstaff crossing, about half a mile from the
trial field, many gentlemen from Preston were induced to visit the scene of
Altogether many hundreds were in the field. The machine was
Fowler's patented steam plough. The steam engine and the plough arrived by
rail, on Monday evening, but they could not be unloaded at the Kirkham station, so
they were taken on to Lytham.
Tuesday evening they left Lytham for Preese Hall, a distance of about nine miles,
by the highway, and the novel circumstance of a steam engine perambulating the
roads, and dragging after it a truck, on which was the plough, itself a most
curious piece of mechanism, attracted a great deal of attention along the route,
and large numbers of wonder-stricken beholders followed the first steam carriage
that ever traversed the highways of the Fylde, to its
Thursday morning it was at work in one of the fields, and for several hours it
turned up the soil, to the satisfaction and astonishment of the crowds in
attendance. It was, in fact, a great success.
Preese Hall farm, in the township of Weeton-with-Preese, is a
portion of the estate purchased by Thomas Miller, Esq., of Preston, about ten years
since, from the trustees of the late Mr. Hornby, of Ribby. Like the Singleton,
Hardhorn, and other property of Mr. Miller, in the Fylde, it has been so changed by
the judicious and enterprising course of improvement which that gentleman and his
agent, Mr. Fair, of Lytham, have carried on, that anyone who had inspected the farm
before it came into Mr, Miller's possession would certainly not now recognise it.
It belongs essentially to that portion of the Fylde whose improvement received the
commendation of Lord Stanley, at the North Lancashire Agricultural meeting; at
Lancaster, this year.
was with the view of testing the merits of steam ploughing that Mr. Fair, on Mr.
Miller's behalf, arranged with Messrs. Fowler, of Leeds, patentees and
manufacturers of steam ploughs and other agricultural machinery, to have a trial of
their plough on Preese Hall farm, and it was in a field of thirty acres that the
machinery was fixed.
the top of' the field, the “headlands," as ploughmen call it, a steam engine,
nominally of fourteen, but capable of working to forty-five, horse power, was
fixed. It is a portable one, on four broad wheels, so that it can be easily moved
along the field, or from one field to another, at the will of the person in charge.
At the opposite end of the field is " an anchor," round which and round a patent
windlass in connection with the engine, an "endless" wire rope revolves, of the
required length ; and on this ropes, between the engine and the anchor, the plough,
or whatever other machine is used, is moved along.
windlass, or drum, is composed of a number of small levers that grip the rope, and
thus prevent its slipping—an ingenious invention that has been advantageously
applied, with a view to prevent accidents, in colliery haulage. The plough is what
may be called a "balance' or double one; that is, the two ends are
one used on Thursday had four "shares" or coulters at each end, so that there was
no occasion for turning it at the completion of a furrow. One end of the plough is
thus always in the air, and they are alternately at work and at rest. The change is
effected in about a minute.
field in which the ploughing took place is a strong loam soil; it was pasture last
year, and it is to be sown, after ploughing, with oats. The length of the furrows
was about 250 yards; the plough with its four coulters, at each journey turned up 3
feet 8 inches in width of soil, or in the double journey 7 feet 4inches wide,
altogether an area of 611 square yards. It took just over three minutes to complete
one length, or allowing a minute at each end of the furrow for changing the plough,
eight minutes and a half for the out and return " trip." This makes a few minutes
over the hour for a statute acre, which is considered a good day's work for a pair
of horses. The steam plough, however, makes a deeper furrow than is usually
attempted by horse ploughing ; five or six inches being considered a fair average
for the latter while this does seven or eight. It also lays the furrow quite as
well as the horse ploughing.
having shown the ploughing, Mr. Greig, of the firm of Messrs. Fowler, the
patentees, attached to the engine a digger, of five coulters. With this, which is
on the same principle as the plough, but has five coulters instead of four, and
which are narrower and go considerably deeper, the furrows were done in less time,
Mr. Grieg stating that twelve acres a day could be easily done.
the digger was driven along, the soil was thrown up like surging waves, and a large
stratum of subsoil was thus brought within the action of the atmosphere. A
cultivator was on the ground, but some portion of the connecting machinery not
having arrived, it was not tried. Harrowing could also be easily done by steam on
the same principle.
half-past two o'clock a fearful storm of thunder, lightning, and rain set in and
continued some time. Mr. Greig, therefore, stepped the working of the machinery,
for the crowd were only too glad to leave the spot and seek shelter in the
refreshment tents in the field, one of which was kept by Mr. W. Carter, of the Ship
Inn, Lytham, and the other by Mr. Redman, of the Miller's Arms, Singleton. In the
former tent an excellent collation was served to a number of invited guests. He had
when he finished work ploughed about six acres.
respects ploughing by steam, its advantages or otherwise is a mere matter of
calculation. On very large farms there can be little doubt there will be economy in
its use, and should this be found to be the case, there will probably be, as
suggested by Lord Stanley, at the Lancaster agricultural meeting, the principle of
co-operation brought to bear to allow of steam being used by smaller farmers also.
This principle has already been acted upon in many parts of Lancashire in the case
of rearing machines, and no doubt steam machinery in the field will be similarly
understand that Mr. Fair has arranged for the purchase of one of these machines for
Mr. Miller, and its practicability will thus shortly be further tasted. The cost of
a steam engine, with plough and all appliances, is, we understand, about £800. To
work it there requires a man at the engine, one at the plough, a boy at the anchor,
and two boys to attend to the hearers, which support the rope between the engine
and the anchor, and to remove them from under the rope as the plough approaches,
and replace them when the plough has passed. The bearers are placed along the field
at intervals of forty yards, to keep the rope off the ground. The bearers on the
outer length of the rope are self-acting, and need no attendance.
is fuel, &c. to be added to the expense of working; altogether &c.,
estimated cost of the working is about £2 a day. One great benefit of steam
machinery is, that work being done more quickly, advantage can be taken of
favourable weather and other circumstances to have farming operations completed at
the most suitable period. The introduction of steam must follow other improvements,
for to work steam machinery to advantage there must be large fields, straight
fences, and land must he well drained, all being conditions desirable in themselves
but absolutely essential for the profitable employment of this kind of
introduction of the steam plough into the Fylde is an important event in its
annals, and it is somewhat significant that the farmers are indebted to it to one
of the modern race of landowners, one who has invested in land the wealth earned in
commercial pursuits, the " new blood" in the landed aristocracy that has done so
much for the improvement of agriculture, and bringing it up, in the march of
improvement, with the other creators of national wealth—commerce and