English town of Stockport home to first lawnmower museum

In the moment: Museum Curator Brian Radam posed for this black and white publicity shot with a century-old horse-drawn lawnmower.
In the moment: Museum Curator Brian Radam posed for this black and white publicity shot with a century-old horse-drawn lawnmower.

I REGULARLY wish that my old American physicist mate Professor Julius Sumner Miller was still around.

This protégé of Einstein entertained several generations of Australian kids with television shows in which he would have eggs sucked through the necks of soft drink bottles and have petrol cans suddenly quashed by some unseen physical force.

He would also film commercials to tell us that Cadbury chocolate had a glass and a half of full-cream milk in every block.

But most of all he had all the answers to the age-old question: “Why is it so?”

If the loveable rogue was still alive, this morning I would be asking: “Why is it that one’s neighbours decide to noisily start mowing their lawns at the crack of dawn every Sunday, when most folk want to have a little bit of extra shut-eye?”

You certainly won’t get the answer at the world’s first lawnmower museum, located at the English town of Stockport, in Manchester’s Merseyside.

If you ask, the guides at the museum will just look at you as if you are balmy.

Then again most of the British don’t have lawns to mow.

Fellow workers and neighbours reckoned he was a raving lunatic, so he used to test the invention after dark so no-one could see him.

In the towns and cities the only lawns are the size of postage stamps.

But it doesn’t stop them from proudly explaining how it was an Englishman Edwin Beard Budding who patented the first lawnmower in 1830.

He was working in a textile mill in Stroud, Gloucester, where originally he designed a machine to trim the nap off the cloth used in army uniforms.

Budding adapted the machine to cut grass.

Fellow workers and neighbours reckoned he was a raving lunatic, so he used to test the invention after dark so no one could see him.

The doubters soon realised he wasn’t crazy after all, especially after he successfully marketed it with advertising that proclaimed: “Country Gentlemen may find in using my machine, an amusing and healthy exercise plus do the work of eight men with scythes and brooms.”

Every conceivable mower: Museum curator Brian Radam poses with a few of the 300 exhibits, including this contemporary yellow robot machine

Every conceivable mower: Museum curator Brian Radam poses with a few of the 300 exhibits, including this contemporary yellow robot machine

Lawnmowers never caught on with my family. Indeed, just before his death, my 93-year-old maternal grandfather was still mowing his lawn in the Sydney suburb of Canterbury using a giant scythe.

The 300 exhibits at the Stockport museum range from one of Budding’s first mowers which had to be pushed through the turf to contemporary robot machines which do their own thing at the press of a button.

Museum curator Brian Radam, who is a cult figure for his driving success in special races for lawnmowers, has also gathered a group of machines allegedly owned by the rich and famous.

The British Lawnmower Museum has scores of historical posters, including one of the inventor of the first grass cutting machine Edward Beard Budding, in 1830.

The British Lawnmower Museum has scores of historical posters, including one of the inventor of the first grass cutting machine Edward Beard Budding, in 1830.