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New Lawn Mower Museum In West Sussex

The new Budding Museum of Gardening is the first new lawn mower museum that we have heard about for a couple of years, and it's a most welcome addition to the list. Founded and curated by Old Lawnmower Club member Clive Gravett, the museum is housed within the new South Downs Heritage Centre in Hassocks, West Sussex. The centre is itself part of a £2.5m project linked with the South Downs National Park. The museum's collection is housed within a 1500m2 vernacular style Sussex barn constructed from restoration-grade oak, fashioned by hand in a traditional workshop by a team of master carpenters.

"We think this is the largest collection of vintage mowers on permanent public display in the South of England," says Clive. "It's the result of more than three years' planning and we already have 30 mowers from the 1860s to 1960s so far with space for more."

  

The display includes several rare machines including an example of the world’s first sidewheel mower patented in Philadelphia, USA in 1869. Push mowers range from a 6in Archimedean to a very original 18in Ransomes Patent Gear Automaton. A centre-piece on the motor mower stand is an exceptionally well restored British Anzani Easimow, designed and originally manufactured in Sussex by E.F. Ranger (Ferring) Ltd. This makes it a very local exhibit indeed. Outside there are some larger mowers, including a Lloyds of Letchworth Autoscythe with Mar-Vil engine, agricultural implements and a couple of tractors. The museum also incorporates a general gardening history sections which Clive says is still a work in progress but already has sections on Pruning & Trimming, Watering & Spraying and of course the story of Edwin Budding.

  

The South Downs Heritage Centre also houses the Sussex food hall with local specialist cheese, chocolate, patisserie, coffee, ice cream etc and plenty of Budding Pale Ale! Local artists and crafts-people have studios, exhibitions and sales areas for the items they produce. In the adjacent barn is a restaurant serving a wide variety of food and refreshments.

How to Find The Museum

South Downs Heritage Centre
Brighton Road
Hassocks
East Sussex
BN6 9LY

See Map Here

By car, just off the A23 7.5 miles north of Brighton.

By train Hassocks station is only 0.5 miles, 10 minutes' walk away.

Opening hours are 9.00am to 5pm Monday to Saturday, 10.00am to 4.30pm Sundays.

Although Clive is not at the museum every day he says he will be pleased to meet club members there on pre-arranged dates for a personal guided tour. Members can access Clive's contact details in the Members Only section of the website.

You can see a list of museums that feature lawn mowers on our Museum Page.

James May Rebuilds A Suffolk Colt - More Mowers On The Telly

James May of "Top Gear" fame starts his new BBC series "The Reassembler" with a project to rebuild a Suffolk Colt Mower from the 1950s. The programme is on BBC4 at 9pm on Monday 4 April and will be available on the iPlayer afterwards for a couple of weeks. The trailers for the show have been fairly sparse but it looks like James will be rebuilding the mower and finding out more about its history and how it was made along the way. Should be fun and might even give the many, many people who contact the club about these popular old machines a few hints.

New American Lawn Mower Book

Old Lawnmower Club member Jim Ricci, a resident of Massachusetts, has published a new book on the history and development of the lawn mower in the USA. This is the culmination of decades of research by Jim, who first joined the Old Lawnmower Club in the mid-1990s. The book has over 250 pages and more than 150 images of American mowers going back to the 19th century. Jim is an active member of our club and regularly attends our Annual Rally and other events in the UK.

   

"After years of research and writing, my book 'Hand, Horse and Motor: The Development of the Lawn Mower Industry in the United States', has now been published," says Jim. "My contact with hundreds of fellow enthusiasts around the world, via personal visits, telephone calls, letters and emails, has helped me document this history. I am deeply appreciative of their support and encouragement over the years."

Copies of the book are currently available direct from the publisher by mail order. We are hoping to arrange for copies to be available soon in the UK for Old Lawnmower Club members to buy with lower postage costs.

You Could Be A TV Star!

The producers of the Amazing Spaces Shed of the Year TV programme recently contacted the club to see if anyone would be interested in entering their competition this year. We're willing to bet that many of our members have highly memorable sheds stuffed full of interesting items that would qualify. Anyone interested in taking part can find out more at the programme's website.

In the meantime, here's the team from the show together with two "typical" mower sheds. The first shows part of the display at Milton Keynes Museum and the second shows how to make the best use of storage space - but possibly not ideal for displays - at an unknown location.

  

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