Milton Keynes Museum shows off a precious new arrival

Posted 10th March 2019

A Victorian silver salver presented to a local man credited with revolutionising farming is the latest acquisition by Milton Keynes Museum.

William Smith was convinced that replacing horse power with steam power would be a more efficient way to run his farm, and in 1855 he devised a system of winches and pulleys powered by a single steam traction engine to pull the plough around the field; the Steam Cultivation System had been invented.

As a result of his work, improvements in ploughing speed contributed to the growth in farm productivity during the 19th century.

The salver carries an engraved panel depicting his steam system, and was presented to him ‘by his neighbours and other friends of Agricultural Improvement’ to mark the achievement.

“William’s windlass, pulleys and plough are already exhibited at the museum. The salver is a fantastic addition to the collection,” said museum director Bill Griffiths.

“William was such an important figure, and not just locally. His ingenuity brought about a big change in farming. We are thrilled to be the custodians of this precious piece of history.”

Today, William Smith Close, in his former home of Woolstone, serves as a fitting tribute to the forward-thinking man who left quite a legacy to the agriculture industry.