A little history
There are a variety of tractors inside and out at the National Museum of Rural Life, from most decades of the 20th century. The latest modern addition is the Deutz tractor, which pulls the Farm Explorer, used to take visitors to the farm.
A little background
From the early 20th century, the tractor helped to transform farm life in Scotland. Although horses were used to work the fields on farms up to the mid-20th century, mechanised agriculture machinery began to come into use in the 19th century. The first steam powered farm implements in the early 19th century were portable engines, such as the Tuxford portable steam engine at the National Museums Collection Centre. The first half of the 1860s was a period of great experimentation but by the end of the decade, the standard form of traction engine had been established. This would change little over the next sixty years and was widely adopted for agricultural use.
20th century tractors
In 1892, John Froelich invented and built the first petrol powered tractor in the US. The first commercially successful lightweight petrol powered tractor built in Britain was made by Dan Albone, in Bedfordshire. However, these didn’t catch on until after the First World War, when there was a higher demand for tractors, probably encouraged by the war.
Mechanisation replaces horsepower
Above: Photo of Jean Forbes Paterson, Women's Land Army member, seated (far left) on a Fordson tractor with another WLA member, a man and a schoolboy, Perthshire, c. 1946.
During the Second World War, the agricultural industry was required to generate produce in ever greater quantities, and this could only be achieved by extensive use of mechanical farm machinery. By the late 1950s the horse became a rarity on farms and the tractor became the 'workhorse'.
Tractors at National Museum of Rural Life
The tractors on display inside and out at the National Museum of Rural Life provide examples of the development and changing tractor technology that emerged in the 20th century. Here are just a few examples that you can see.