MP074: John Shaw Governor

John Shaw Governor motor mower.

The "Governor" was produced by John Shaw of Wolverhampton during the 1920s. The company was established in the early 1800s and manufactured a wide range of hardware items. Many of these, including hand tools, auger bits, vices, and air gun pellets, carried the "Governor" brand.

John Shaw appears to have started manufacturing motor mowers in the 1920s. Many companies entered the market during this period. The market was growing, bought-in components such as engines were decreasing in price and engineering companies that had been supplying items for the armed forces during the First World War needed to find new outlets for their capabilities.

Like most of these companies John Shaw was never a major producer of lawn mowers although, unusually, it produced two different designs with very difference appearance. Both used the Governor name. 

The first Governor was a conventional design that was similar to many other motor mowers of the period. This machine featured a basic plate steel frame supporting a small two stroke engine. Most motor mowers from the 1920s have a Villiers engine with a flywheel magneto.  But the Governor had an engine with a separate magneto and no obvious manufacturer's markings. It is unlikely that the company produced its own engines and the engine is probably a small JAP or BSA two stroke unit.

The "conventional" John Shaw Governor motor mower.

The second Governor was completely different design which incorporated a small water-cooled two stroke engine mounted directly on to the end of the cutting cylinder. This machine is similar to another mower, known as the Bee, made by Burgess of Brentwood at about the same time.  There may be some link between the two companies (and the engine on the Governor may have been produced by Burgess) but the designs are not identical as the Governor has a radiator and the Bee does not.

The "unusual" John Shaw Governor motor mower with water cooled engine and radiator.

The company also manufactured sidewheel hand mowers with the name "Trojan". This was another brand name that was used by the company for items including sewing machines and air gun pellets. 

It is not know if John Shaw made mowers after 1939 but it is unlikely. The company continued into the 1970s when it was taken over by an engineering company based in Sheffield. A detailed history of the company can be found on a special website created by the Wolverhampton Heritage & History Society.

John Shaw motor mowers are very rare today although examples of each type made by the company are known to exist. A few collectors and museums have examples in their collections.