MP023: Barford & Perkins Godiva

Barford & Perkins Godiva.

The Godiva was a hand operated roller mower made by Barford & Perkins of Peterborough at the end of the 19th and start of the 20th centuries. Early examples had the conventional layout but later models incorporated a device known as "Wansbrough's Patent Height Regulator" that was introduced in 1902. This was a mechanism that allows the user to adjust the cutting height of the mower from the normal standing position. A long bar connected an adjusting wheel close to the top of the handles with a basic eccentric mechanism on the front wooden roller. Moving the adjuster forwards or backwards rotated the mechanism at the roller end, raising or lowering the roller and altering the elevation of the front of the mower relative to the turf.

This was a simple but effective way of adjusting the cutting height and length of the grass that remained after mowing. On similar mowers of the period  the user had to make any height adjustments using a spanner to loosen and tighten the nuts that support the front roller on the chassis.

1903 advertisement for a Barford & Perkins Godiva from The Ironmonger magazine.

Barford & Perkins was much better known for its other products which (at the time it made the Godiva mowers) included steam engines, steam rollers and agricultural equipment. The mower production was eventually taken over by a company known as Nene Engineering whose name derived from the river that passes through Peterborough where both companies were based. This company finally stopped producing mowers in the late 1920s.

The Perkins survives today as part of the company that manufactures engines for commercial and agricultural vehicles.

Examples of the Godiva mower made by Barford & Perkins or Nene Engineering are quite unusual although a number of museums and private collectors have them in their collections.