Chitty Chitty Bang Bang had nothing on this By Alec Webb

There were times in the early days of farm mechanisation that were so ridiculous. I think this is one of them. The object was to make harvesting corn faster and more labour saving. There was to be a demonstration of a new combine harvester, a standard model and a special cutaway model showing the works to the audience The way the combine worked was to take the ears from the stalk and thresh it, the chaff was blown out of two huge funnels on the top and the corn was put it into sacks which hung on the back and was controlled by two men. This was all powered by an engine which operated the machine but did not drive the wheels so it had to be pulled by a tractor. The straw of the corn was left standing in the field and this had to be cut with a binder and made into sheaves in the old way. As for labour saving and efficiency , it was a non starter Three men and two engines to operate the combine Two men to come behind with a tractor and binder, a horse and cart with another two men to load the sheaves and take them back to the farm There was also a tractor and trailer to pick up the sacks the were being left by the combine. That was 9 men 4 engines and a horse and the use of us boys to harvest one field. Altogether this was not the most successful demonstration of modern machinery but I suppose lessons were learned from it which contributed to what we have today But us boys did get half a crown (twenty two and a half pence) for our days work.

in Hitchin, United Kingdom


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