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Ransomes manufactured the first grass cutting machine

Frank Wright of Williamson’s Insurance. Picton, with his extensive and remarkable collection of antique cast-iron seats from agricultural implements.

The first patent grass cutting machine manufactured by Ransome in 1832.

The name of Ransomes of Ipswich, Suffolk, England has been known around the world for two centuries. And in recent times I have been reminded on three Prince Edward County occasions of this venerable company from my hometown.

The first was when I found a push-lawnmower in a yard sale. The cast iron wheels were inscribed Ransomes, Ipswich.

The second time, a few years ago, was when the friendly folks from Lockyer’s Greenhouses were cutting my lawn. The industrial lawnmower they were using at that time was a Ransome mower.

The third time I came across the Ransome name was when Frank Wright of Williamson’s Insurance. Picton, was showing me his extensive and remarkable collection of antique cast-iron seats from agricultural implements. These collectable seats, in the main, come from horse-drawn agricultural implements made between 1850 and 1900. A number of the cast iron seats in his collection were from agricultural equipment made by Ransomes of Ipswich.

Robert Ransome (1753-1830), a Quaker from Norwich, Norfolk, who was an iron and brass founder, set up a new foundry in Ipswich, Suffolk in 1789. At that time his principal product was plowshares. He had, in 1785, obtained a patent for tempering cast-iron ploughshares.

In 1832, Ransome manufactured the first grass-mowing machine in Ipswich.

As early as 1803, Ransome had made a technological breakthrough that revolutionized cast-iron production. Some molton iron had spilled onto the foundry floor and the rapid cooling from the cold floor produced extra hardness in the iron.

When he began his business he had just one employee. His sons James and Robert later joined the company, and by the time of his retirement in 1825 the firm was employing around 60 men and boys.

In the First World War Ransomes manufactured FE 2B biplane aircraft. In the Second World War, they manufactured various armaments and aircraft parts as well as farm equipment.

The company grew and diversified and exported their products around the world.  They built bridges, mills, steam engines and other steam-powered machinery, and railway components as well as lawnmowers. In 1978, they employed around 2,800 people.

The company’s agricultural implement business was sold in 1989 and the remaining lawnmower business was sold in 1998.
Whenever the Ransomes name turns up around the world, Ipswichians recognize that the name meant “The Best in the World”.

Seats from Ransomes, Ipswich, England

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