Drage & Kent's "Gyro Tiller"

This incredible beast of a machine was also known as a Diesel Rotary Plough and was made by Fowler of Leeds, who were better known for the manufacture of steam locomotives and traction engines. It was a real monster and was used for breaking up the heavy clay Essex soils and even the removal of roots and tree stumps. It moved very slowly across the land while the tiller bit into the soil - it looks rather like the blades inside a modern food blender!

The machine had a heavy, single front wheel and relied on its own weight to keep itself well set into the soil as it progressed. Machines like this were widely used in the 1930s and 1940s throughout the UK and abroad for bringing back into cultivation land which could not be tackled with ordinary implements.

This particular machine was apparently used in Church Road to reclaim a wooded area near Parkhouse Lane once the trees had been felled and removed. It also helped to prepare the land at Nuthampstead for the building of the air base there during WW2.

Reg Drury and George Harvey who worked for Drage & Kent used to operate the machine and its maintenance apparently often called for much mechanical improvisation when parts were needed.

A number of these machines have been preserved by enthusiasts.

(Scroll down for a second photo from the Bruce Drury Collection)