Inverted Weighing Machine
This Inverted Weighing Machine was made around 1910 but is included in ‘19th Century Scales' because its pattern is of that period. It is the Medhurst design, Fig 5 in their catalogue which we continued to manufacture after we purchased the company in 1881.
These scales have a galvanised metal goods plate, and are believed to have been purchased new by Ridlands Farm in Kent, where they were used continuously for weighing apples and pears until the farm ceased fruit growing in 1973. They can be dated quite accurately, as they are signwritten ‘Herbert & Sons Ltd' – we incorporated in 1909 – with the address ‘West Smithfield EC' – London Postal Districts were subdivided in 1917.
Fruit growing at Ridlands Farm was started around 1894 by Albert Edward Fowler on over 40 acres of land just outside Canterbury, and he also had a further farm at Ulcombe near Maidstone. In due course the business was handed on to Albert's son, and then to his grandson Albert J Fowler, who in turn passed it on to his son-in-law John Castle.
However the proximity of Ridlands Farm to the centre of Canterbury resulted in continual encroachment by the city, part being sold off to meet the needs of Kent & Canterbury Hospital, and by the 1970s only 28 acres remained. It is expected that the remaining land will soon become the new home for Canterbury City FC.
The photograph on the right shows the scales being used to weigh 12lb wooden trays of pears for market in September 1970. Much of the fruit went up to London wholesale markets such as Covent Garden and Spitalfields, as well as to the Midlands and North of England.
In September 1972 Ridlands Farm won one of East Kent Fruit Society's major awards for the best young fruiting orchard. The farm was then producing Worcester, Laxton Fortune, Cox and Golden Delicious apples, and Conference and Comice pears. The photograph on the right shows Albert J Fowler, John Castle and farm foreman Bert Percival with one of the trees in their prize winning Cox orchard.
The scales were purchased from Malcolm Castle in 2012, and we are grateful to him for the information and photographs provided which appear on this page.
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