A new exhibition which will celebrate the life and achievements of famous Leeds-based agricultural engineer John Fowler is set to be opened at a city museum later this month.
Marking the 150 year anniversary of his untimely death, the work of John Fowler, who was a pioneer in the development of steam engines for ploughing and inventions which changed the course of agricultural practice, will be showcased at Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills.
As part of the display, a range of exhibits from the Leeds Museums and Galleries collection and other objects from other lenders including the Museum of English Rural life will be brought together under one roof.
Fowler first came to national prominence in 1858, when he invented the steam plough as a result of the Royal Agricultural Society of England’s offer of a £500 prize for a ‘steam cultivator that shall….be an economic substitute for the plough or the spade’.
Initially, steam plough engines were built for Fowler by Hunlset-based Kitson and Hewitson before he established his own factory nearby on Leathley Road. His steam plough works produced their first engine in 1862 and more than 900 workers were employed there within four years. The company went on to build traction engines, steamrollers and railway engines, two of which are preserved at Middleton Railway. During the second world war the factory was converted to produce tanks, the factory closed in 1974.
Fowler retired due to poor health and died in Ackworth as a result of a hunting accident on December 4, 1864.
For more information regarding events and activities at Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills, please see: www.leeds.gov.uk/armleymills
Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for digital and creative technologies, culture and skills said:
“We are really looking forward to the opening of the John Fowler exhibition at Armley Mills, which will showcase his vast achievements and work in agricultural engineering.
“As part of the exhibition we have raided the Leeds Museums and Galleries collections to find a range of fantastic Fowler related pieces, which will sit aside objects from other lenders, including the Museum of English Rural life.”
Derek Rayner, president of the Leeds and District Traction Engine Club, added:
“John Fowler devoted his life to the advancement of agriculture and developed the world’s first practical method of mechanical cultivation using a cable system powered by steam engines.
“His premature death at the age of 38, in 1864, robbed the country of an eminent engineer and it’s a tribute to those who followed that Fowler’s Steam Plough Works in Hunslet became one of the major factories in this great engineering city of Leeds.”