150 Years of Farm Machinery – 16 January 2018

Jimmy McGhee, accompanied by his wife Effie, gave the members the benefit of his long-held passion for the development of farm machinery. Originally an apprentice with the Mauchline-based, manufacturer, Pollock, Jimmy worked his way up to eventually owning the business and has been more than 50 years with the company which itself recently celebrated its 150-year birthday.

The company was started by Andrew Pollock in 1867, in the smiddy at Cowgatehead, in Mauchline, where it began by making a range of implements including ploughs, hay and straw presses, reaping and mowing machines, potato dressing machines, potato diggers and drill grubbers. These early years of Pollock were ones of invention and far-reaching sales and Jimmy took us on an evolutionary journey through the life of the company and the numerous different machines used on the farms, some of which are now extremely rare and collectable. Amongst these are balers, rick-lifters, carts of all shapes and sizes, land-rollers, harrows and barrows. One of Pollock’s most famous innovations was the tattie-digger, which was able to remove potatoes from the ground with ease, creating little damage to the potatoes and leaving them arranged in tidy rows for lifting. These potato-diggers were developed and manufactured for many years and were a highly popular product of the company. Many variations of hand carts and horse-drawn carts were also manufactured and a large number of these were ordered by the war ministry during WW1.

As the company became ever more successful it required new premises and in 1915-16 moved plant and equipment from Cowgatehead to Station Road. In 1998, ownership was transferred to James McGhee and the company moved again, this time to Lugar, where it still is today, manufacturing more-modern farm equipment, such as byre-cleaning machinery, cow-brushes and bale handlers. 

Jimmy has written a book (Pollock: Agricultural Implement Makers 1867-2017) documenting the history of the firm and its products. It is produced in hardback, and is richly illustrated with many old engravings and photographs of the different types of machinery. The book can be purchased from various local outlets, including Pollock’s Farm Shop or visit www.carnpublishing.com for more details on the remarkable story of a local company which has survived and thrived for more than a century and a half.

Harry Jackson gave the vote of thanks to Jimmy whose talk was very well received.