Blast From The Past! Lawn Mowers of Yesteryear

Posted July 12, 2017 by 1 Comment

Party like its 1830? Well that’s true for Edwin Budding who invented the first mowing machine. Were showing the evolution of the lawn mower from its humble beginnings to what we have now.

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Mower Patent

January 1830, Edwin Budding from Stroud, Gloucestershire (try to pronounce that), England receives his patent for the first mowing machine. He obtained the idea after seeing a machine in a local cloth mill which used a cutting cylinder (or blade reel) mounted on a bench to trim cloth to make a smooth finish after weaving.

Innovations Arise

By the 1890s as lightweight petrol engines and small steam power units became available, motorized mowers begin to appear. By 1902 these mowers were leading the market up until the First World War.

First Riding Mowers

Around the turn of the 20th Century JP Engineering of Leicester, as well as Ransomes’ Automaton created chain-driven mowers. These machines could be towed behind horses and the ones who operated the machines could ride on the machines. This would be considered the dawn of riding mowers.

Atco Motor Mower

One of the most successful companies to emerge in the 1920s was Atco, who launched the first motor mower in 1921. Just 900 of these mowers were launched, within five years production accelerated to tens of thousands.

Birth of the Rotary

In 1935, Leonard Goodall and his wife had problems with buck-horn plants outside their coffee shop. Goodall took his wife’s Maytag washing machine and used the 7/8 horsepower, two-cycle gas engine to create the first direct drive rotary mower. Between 1953 and 1959 the power rotary mower was outselling the reel mower by a 9-to-1 ratio.


On to Zero-Turn Mowers

In 1964 a man named Ken Raney who was an advertiser manager for Excel industries had announced that their company produced the first zero-turn radius mower. He explained that “zero-turn radius is a superior way to mow grass.” By the 1970s hydraulic drive was added to the zero-turn mowers, eliminating belts and clutches.

Today and the Future

Today’s market is still ruled by operator-controlled mowers, where you push or ride the machine. Some people see the future having remote controlled, computerized, to solar-powered mowers, which would eliminate the need for an operator.

1 Comment

  1. Rann
    on February 5, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    I’m looking for replacement tires for my old push mower. It has 8 1/2″ diameter steel rims about 1″ wide with a center raised bead instead of raised rims. The tires were solid rubber. I’m sure the tires had treads originally but are worn smooth now. The left tire cracked clean through over the winter while stored indoors. Does anyone still make these?

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