18 August 2000


Everyday items from the

past are the new

collectables, as

Tom Montgomery

discovered when he met a

retired farmer with an

interest in garden tools

JACK Clegram has retired from farming and now spends his time working on his collection of old gardening tools. With the increasing interest in restoring the Victorian kitchen gardens of large estates it is a fast-growing hobby.

"It is in the last 10 years that the collecting bug has bitten. Before that they were just thrown on the scrap heap, which was a shame because machinery such as Rotavators, ploughs and grass-cutting equipment was beautifully engineered," he said.

Jack, of Carp Shield Farm, Waskerley, Consett, is the northern co-ordinator of the Vintage Horticultural and Garden Machinery Club (VH&GMC). It promotes an active interest in the preservation, operation and exhibiting of old tools and equipment. Members attend steam rallies, garden shows and ploughing matches where they have their own competitive class.

A free magazine The Cultivator keeps everybody in touch and advertises eagerly sought components necessary to complete restorations.

"The interest at shows is unbelievable, everybody now seeks to jump on the bandwagon," said Jack. "There is a big demand for spares because old equipment is wanted for period gardens."

One of the countrys foremost collectors is Robert Addyman, who is planning to open his own museum. He has nearly 5000 old garden tools dating back to the 1700s. His father Jim kindled his interest 20 years ago when he bought a push hoe at a local sale for £2.

Now Robert has seed drills, mowers, shears, secateurs, forks and spades, not to mention a dandelion spot sprayer and a pair of mid-19th century dock lifters, all restored to original condition. For ingenuity it would be hard to beat a pair of shears with four blades. Three cuts can be made with one opening and closing movement.

A rarity is a sun and moon dial bearing all the signs of the zodiac and there are over 1000 brass syringes.

"Most of these tools would have been used in Victorian kitchen gardens in the 19th century. They are of good quality and made to last. They depended on their vegetable and fruit gardens and they didnt want equipment that kept breaking down," said Robert, who now broadcasts on the subject on his local radio station.

Ideally he would like a walled garden for his museum so his collection could be housed in a traditional setting. Failing that he will open it at his home in Copgrove, Harrogate.

"There are one or two small museums of gardening equipment and tools, but not many," he said. "They are not as comprehensive as my collection because I started early when you could pick items up for pennies in some cases."

He exhibits the collection at agricultural and garden shows and fairs.

For details of the VH& GMC Tel: 01406-362524.

Robert Addyman with an old copper knapsack sprayer. Below: A collection of Robert Addymans brass syringes.

See more