Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Steam Traction Engine and Marshall Thresher.

The John Fowler steam traction engine was a very familiar site around the country roads and lanes in the area. Towing behind it a Marshall threshing drum, and sometimes a small crew caboose.

We now come around to a couple of local characters who were well respected in their working life for Sir Ernest Gardener MP who, at one time was one of the largest farmers in the area, with his home farm being at “The Mount” in Cookham Dean. Running Lower Mount Farm he also owned Sheephouse Farm in Maidenhead Court. This he rented out to my Grandfathers brother Alfred James Hatch and then to Jack Hatch, brother of William Turner Gray Hatch, who is well remembered in the village for his Nursery and work with the village fire brigade.

The men who I knew very well were Jim Bedwell, and Jimmy Green. They were the crew of Gardener Steam Traction Engine and Threshing Machine. Besides threshing The Mount Farm cereal, they came down threshed the grain at Sheephouse Farm. Besides that they use to do contract threshing for other small farmers in the area. With the exception of the Astor Estate at White Place Farm, who had their own threshing machine, which they powered with a very old International 10-20 tractor.

Jim Bedwell was a very long time resident of Cookham Dean and was well known for his pipe and black shinny engine drivers cap. As a matter of fact I went to school with his granddaughter Barbara Bedwell. He looked after that Fowler traction engine as he would for a horse. He dampened the fire down at night, then was on the job early in the morning to ensure there was enough steam to start the days threshing.
Jimmy Green, was the feeder of the grain into the drum of the thresher, also he made sure that all the operating belts and lubrication of the bearings were in good working order. He also helped Jim Bedwell set up the drum and chock the wheels before the main drive belt was tightened. I remember Jimmy best for his 'cheeky grin' that he always had.

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