Model of a steam-driven five-furrow balance plough, c 1900

© Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
© Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Production Technology
Agriculture and Forestry
1900 - 1909
At the moment this object is not published in the museum.

This unusual plough was pulled back and forth by a wire rope between two steam engines and then tipped at each turn-around point so the plough blades always pointed in the right direction.

In the wake of industrialisation the population of many European towns and cities grew exponentially. Indeed, the share of the urban population increased. To feed the ever larger number of people, agriculture had to increase its production by making greater use of fertilizers and tilling large areas of what had previously been wasteland. To this end, steam power gradually gained ground in the agricultural sector, too. A key contemporary of this trend was the German engineer Max Eyth. He was the international representative of the English company John Fowler & Co., the leading manufacturer of steam-driven ploughs. In his popular Briefen eines Ingenieurs [Letters from an Engineer] Eyth described his experiences and reported how these implements gradually came into widespread use throughout the Habsburg monarchy.

Steam-driven ploughs required sizeable investments. In Austria, wealthy landowners led the way, deliberately breaking with deeply-rooted traditions and customs in the country’s agricultural sector. In 1870 Archduke Albrecht was the first to use Fowler steam-driven ploughs on his Hungarian estate at Bellye, south of Mohács, between the river Drau and the Danube. Large quantities of wheat were harvested here and brought to market at good prices. The managers running the estates owned by the former Austrian Emperor Ferdinand I in northern Bohemia soon followed suit. A few years later the Princes of Thurn-und-Taxis purchased more ploughs for their fields in Croatia. These implements were also used in Moravia and Lower Austria to prepare fields for the cultivation of sugar beet, among others. Eyth even travelled to the estates of big landowners in present-day Romania, Russia and Ukraine.

Manufacturer: John Fowler & Co., Leeds

Date of origin: c. 1900

Inv.Nr. 21443

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