British Lawnmower Museum

Following my recent post on matches, which was inspired by the British Lawnmower Museum in Southport, I was interested to note that the first lawnmower was actually invented by Edward Budding in Stroud in 1830, just after the perfection of a reproducible striking match in 1825/6. What an inventive time were those days of Great Britain’s industrial revolution.

The Southport museum contains an example of Budding’s invention, and a fine piece of engineering it was, operated by two people, one pushing and one pulling. But extremely heavy because of its cast iron manufacture.

It was interesting to discover from Brian Radam, who established the museum, that this is a true lawnmower. Later modern rotary ‘mowers’ are in fact ‘grass cutters’ that work by shearing and tearing, rather than by cutting.

Altogether, a visit to the lawnmower museum proves rather more interesting than you might think, with a number of rooms full of old machines and stories that Brian, a great enthusiast, will regale you with. And you get to see an old machine once owned by Nicholas Parsons of ‘Just a Minute’ fame!

How did you do that?

“How did you do that?”

Brian Radam at the British Lawnmower Museum in Southport was demonstrating to a 16-year-old work-experience volunteer how to light an old gas stove.

“How did I do what?” countered Brian.

“Make that flame when you ran that little stick across that box.”

That 16-year-old had never seen or experienced a match. My flabber has never been so truly gasted!

Makes you realise that things that one generation takes for granted as commonplace are not necessarily carried forward to succeeding generations.

It seems that a replicable and usable friction match was invented in 1826, and a safety match in 1855. They were so common during my childhood in 1950s Lincoln that the roadside gutters usually contained numerous matchsticks; I was even led to try making matchstick models, but soon gave up as it was all too messy and tedious – all that sticky glue!

After nearly 200 years, matches appear to be in the ‘long tail’ of their lifecycle. It seem unlikely that they’ll ever disappear altogether, but you never know…

Picture by thebarrowboy viw Wikimedia Commons