The British Lawnmower Museum

Profiled in the June edition of the magazine of AIM - the Association of Independent Museums

The British Lawnmower Museum in Southport, Lancashire first opened in 1990. Over the last 12 years it has grown from just a handful of visitors and vintage garden machines to an award-winning business and one of the world's leading authorities on vintage lawnmowers. The museum houses more than 200 restored machines of historical interest, part of 400 in the collection built up over 50 years. Its archives carry over 600 original patents, dating back to 1799 and the museum is able to provide information on the history of the machines to people from allover the world. Museum staff, who have restored many of the exhibits, also restore garden machinery for people from allover the UK and abroad.

A Qualcast Panther; 1955, owned by Jean Alexander (Hilda Ogden)

A Qualcast Panther; 1955, owned by Jean Alexander (Hilda Ogden) [Full image 4kb]

The collection includes some of the earliest, the fastest and some of the most expensive lawnmowers in the world, alongside the water-cooled "Egg Boiler Lawnmower", the first electric lawnmower, and a unique hand powered rotary grasscutter. Displays include the largest collection of vintage toy lawnmowers and games in the world and a section of the museum is dedicated to Lawnmowers of the Rich and Famous, including the Prince of Wales, Nicholas Parsons, Jean Alexander (Hilda Ogden), Brian May (Queen) and Alan Titchmarsh. Many companies not associated with garden machinery have produced lawnmowers, including Rolls Royce, Royal Enfield, Hawker Siddeley, British Leyland, Fraser Nash and Dennis and their stories are included.

The lawnmower was invented in 1830 by Edwin Budding of Stroud, Gloucestershire. Originally designed to trim the nap from cloth in the mill where he worked, the cylinder machine he devised has not changed in principle since that date. People thought he was a lunatic to invent such a contraption -so he tested the machine at night so no-one would see him. When he eventually marketed the machine, his advertisements claimed "Gentlemen will find this an amusing and healthy exercise."

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[Full size image 10kb]

Museum curator Brian Radman, is an ex-racing champion who gives talks on garden machinery and also conducts guided tours around the museum. The museum is the Headquarters of the ATCO Car Owners Club, preserving the famous historic wartime vehicle, and are at present hoping to beat the world speed record for the Guinness Book of Records for the fastest lawnmower. The museum has featured on many television and radio programmes including Blue Peter and in the media, notably the American Time Magazine. To date the museum has not received one penny of funding. Along with other independent museums it suffers as national and larger museums become increasingly advantaged, especially since many now have free entrance status -a discrimination against any independent museum. Here we are held back in our struggle to develop a fantastic and unique museum. If we had the sort of money available to national museums we could create a world-class museum at a fraction of the cost.

The museum is open all year from 9.00am 5.30pm. Visiting the museum is a unique experience -not only is it mower interesting and a cut above the rest, it is a tribute to the garden machinery industry over the last 200 years.

Larry Goldwater, Administrator. Website:

Editors Note:

For a more local independent museum, you could also try the London Sewing Machine Museum, at 308 Balham High Road (020 8682-7916,

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