From Fledgling Machine to Engineering Success: The History of the Lawnmower
The lawnmower is a tool often taken for granted, but can you imagine maintaining your lawn without it? You would have to adopt early methods such as cutting off grass by using a scythe which would take up most of your time. However, the good news is this is not the case anymore!
Most people in the early days used their lands for farming and not mainly for the purpose of aesthetical appeal. However, nowadays with the invention of the lawnmower, people have the luxury of maintaining lawns, which in early decades was restricted only to the aristocracy who could afford such luxury.
Edwin Beard Budding, an engineer from Stroud, Gloucestershire, England, invented the lawnmower in 1830. He got the idea from a napping machine in a local cloth mill; it used a cutting cylinder mounted on a bench to cut excess cloth to make a smooth finish after weaving. He realised that the same concept could be applied to engineer a mechanism that would allow one to cut grass efficiently and evenly.
He then partnered with fellow engineer John Ferrabee, and made lawnmowers in their workshop in Stroud. Their first prototypes were made of cast iron, with a large rear roller with a cutting cylinder in the front. The cylinder machines were similar in style to what we see in today’s mowers.
Aside from being brilliant engineers, Budding and Ferrabee were also wise in terms of managing the patent for their invention. They allowed other companies to build copies of their machine under the license, the most successful of which being Ransomes of Ipswich.
By the time of Budding’s death, his patent was expiring, and thus manufacturers were free to improve on his invention. Since then, numerous versions were introduced, such as the rotary mower which had fewer moving parts and a simpler propulsion method. Rotary mowers chomped their way through tall grass blades without clogging up. Then came motorised mowers, petrol-powered mowers and electric mowers.
Nowadays, there is a mower for virtually any requirement you and your lawn have. Various types cater to various mowing specifications; with ease, you can mow your Sir Walter DNA Certified grass to its prescribed 40mm using a cylinder lawnmower. Or you can trim your Nullarbor Couch Grass to a more delicate 15-20mm using an electric lawnmower.
Want to start maintaining your own lawn? Visit Lilydale Instant Lawn, Melbourne’s leading name for lawn solutions.