Work of agricultural engineer John Fowler to be celebrated at Leeds museum

Caption 1: Five men with an electrical motor in the electrical department of John Fowler & Co. (Leeds) Ltd. taken around the turn of the century.

Caption 2: The John Fowler Company emblem c.1950

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 next week.

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 ploughing engines were built for Fowler by Hunslet-based Kitson and Hewitson before he established his own factory nearby.

His Steam Plough Works produced their first engine in 1862 and more than 900 workers were employed there within four years.

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.”

The exhibition is open from Tuesday
November 4, 2014 until Sept 27, 2015.


Notes to editors:

Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills:

Housed in what was once the world's largest woollen mill, Leeds Industrial Museum houses a wealth of gems located in a beautiful riverside setting. Step back in time to learn about the industrial history of Leeds from manufacturing textiles and clothing to printing, engineering and locomotives, for which the city was world famous for.

There is no additional charge for visiting this exhibition. Normal admission charges apply.

Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills is open at the following times:

Monday: Closed except for bank holidays. Bank holiday Mondays 10:00 - 17:00. Last admission at 16:00

Tuesday to Saturday: 10:00 - 17:00. Last admission at 16:00

Sunday: 13:00 - 17:00. Last admission at 16:00

For further information visit our website www.leeds.gov.uk/armleymills

For media enquiries, please contact;

Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578

Email: colin.dickinson@leeds.gov.uk