RANSOMES

A famous Ipswich firm, makers of agricultural implements since 1789. Originally Ransome & Son, the company became Ransome & Sons (1818), J & R Ransome (1825), J.R. & A Ransome (1830), Ransomes & May (ca. 1851), Ransomes & Sims (1852), Ransomes, Sims & Head (1869), Ransomes, Head, & Jefferies (1881) and finally Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies Ltd. (1884). Ransomes acquired manufacturing rights to Ferrabee & Budding mowers in 1832, but relinquished these in 1858 to become wholesalers for the lighter machines made by Shanks and Greens. They re-entered the mower market in 1861 with a Budding-type machine and in 1867 produced the "Automaton". In 1902, as Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies, they were the first company to produce a petrol-engined lawn mower commercially, although not the first to make such machines. One of the largest UK producers of mowers from before the First World War until the 1960s, Ransomes gradually withdrew from the domestic mower market in the 1970s to concentrate on the professional and local authority market. However, the acquisition of the Mountfield and Westwood companies in the 1980s brought a renewed interest in domestic mowers. In 1989 Ransomes acquired Cushman & Ryan of Lincoln, Nebraska, USA. By the 1990s the firm was mainly specialising in mowers for the professional golf market; the American factories producing rotary machinery with the UK side of the business specialising in cylinder mowers. In November 1997 a successful bid for the company was made by the American company Textron Inc.