Farming Forebears: Machinery and livestock throwbacks

We love to indulge in a bit of history every so often and our readers never disappoint by sharing with us their farming photos from the past.

The response to this regular feature continues to be fantastic, so keep delving into your photo archives, brushing off the dust and sending in snapshots of farming through the ages.

This remarkable photo was sent in by Penny Stanbury. It was taken in 1919 and it shows Penny’s grandfather, Maurice Belton, taking delivery of new equipment with the salesman and farmworker and his son.

See also: Job profile – what’s it like to be an arable foreman?

Maurice, who is sat on the machine, was 18 or 19 years old and had taken on the farm at the Grange, Well Vale, near Alford in Lincolnshire, after the loss of his older brother Philip in the last few days of the First World War.

You can just about see the buildings of Alford train station in the background.

Maurice Belton in 1919 with his new farm equipment

Maurice Belton in 1919 with his new Saunderson Universal tractor

A treasure trove of rare photographs offering incredible insight into the livestock trade in Scotland over the past 150 years has been uncovered at one of Scotland’s agricultural auctioneers Lawrie & Symington. 

The collection, which features images of livestock, customers and auctioneers as well as sales reports dating as far back as 1867, was discovered by Lawrie & Symington’s Willie McCulloch in Lanark Agricultural Mart.

This one-shear Blackfaced ram sold for £200 at Lanark Ram Sales in 1898

This one-shear Blackfaced ram sold for £200 at Lanark Ram Sales in 1898

It features images of a breed of sheep, the Blackface, that no longer exists as a result of selective breeding over the past century and a half.

Among the archive are images that show auctioneers and buyers from 1867, including Lawrie & Symington’s first four customers.

Auctioneers Lawrie & Symington old livestock market photos

The first four buyers at Lanark Auction Mart with auctioneers in 1867

The auctioneers are now looking to the farming community and wider public to see if anyone is able to help identify who some of the people in the photographs might be.

“This archive offers us a fascinating glimpse of what the trade was like in 1867 and how it has evolved in the decades since. 

Auctioneers Lawrie & Symington old livestock market photos

These Blackface ewes were sold at Lanark Auction Mart on 28 September 1948 for £50 a head

“If any members of the public are able to help us work out who the people are who we don’t have names for we’d be hugely grateful.

“We’ll be posting the photos on our Facebook and Twitter pages in the hope that local families and the agricultural community might be able to help us find out who they are.”

Auctioneers Lawrie & Symington old livestock market photos

Auctioneers strike a pose – a snapshot of Louth Mart in the 1980s.

How to share your photos

We’d like to see photos of your farming forebears – they could appear in the pages of Farmers Weekly.

All we need is a photo and a line or two (feel free to write more if you’d like to) about whoever is in the picture.

If you already have a digital image, email us a copy and if you have a print, you can either take a scan or take a photo of it with your phone or camera and email it to us.

Don’t worry if you’re not an expert with a camera – snaps are fine. Email it to and your farming forebear could appear in Farmers Weekly – a lovely surprise if they’re still with us, or a fitting tribute if they’re not.

Tips on taking a handy snap

If you’re taking a snap of a paper photograph, try to zoom in nice and close so you get lots of detail.

Check there isn’t too much glare/refection (no pics taken under the arc lamp in the yard please).

Try to take pictures flat-on to the print (so the camera or phone lens is parallel to the paper rather than slanted upwards at an angle).

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