LOOKING BACK WITH COOPER HARDING

IN the 1890 Trade Directory, William Myers of Sandhutton is listed as "Proprietor of steam threshing machines, driller, mower, reaper and agent for agricultural implements".

While Bamletts of Thirsk were renowned at home and abroad for horse drawn mowers and reapers, William Myers and his sons were the leading contractors of steam powered farm machinery in the district.

At the time this photograph was taken this machine was one of the most modern traction engines in service.

It was made in 1888 by Marshalls of Gainsborough in Lincolnshire, a firm which from modest beginnings in the 1840s had become one of the foremost agricultural engineering concerns in the country, rivalling firms such as Aveling, Burrel, Fowler or Ransomes.

Like today’s combine harvester, the contract threshing set toured from farm to farm, taking up station by the stack yard and working there amid steam, smoke, dust and the sweat and labourers who toiled to feed the thresher, carry the grain off in sacks and rake away the debris.

The traction engine seen here is setting off on its rounds with threshing machine in tow.

The ‘convoy’ sometimes included a water tank and often a van to provide overnight accommodation for the crew. Here we see William Myers junior at the controls, with steersman Sam Bell at the wheel.

Standing ahead of the engine is flagman John Seaton, ready to walk off in front at the prescribed distance of 20 yards with a red flag to warn of the approach of this steaming monster.

1895 was the last year that mechanical vehicles were bound by the Traffic Act of 1865 which laid down a maximum speed of four miles per hour.

The Act of 1896 released such vehicles from the necessity of following behind a flag-bearing pedestrian and allowed them to proceed at a breathtaking 14 miles per hour!