A meander through life and history in, and around, Alford in Lincolnshire. Uncover stories from the past and tales of Alfordians abroad.
Fenton Townsend Ltd : humble beginnings …
Although we have had to close our doors at the moment I have been amusing myself with few jobs on the combine for the last week or so, in isolation naturally !
I link my daily exercise with a visit to the Manor House, first job, cleaning and painting the driver’s platform and controls …
I have been cleaning and removing rust from under the driver’s platform on the combine which is quite mucky with poor accessibility. The top surface was easy underneath is a nightmare of angle iron, pipes and levers and very little room because of the wheel! I will then treat with suitable undercoat followed by red paint. It is the last area left to do and then I can finish applying the decals to the rest of the machine.
There is a very indistinct transfer still on the combine but it is scarcely legible. It has the name Fenton TownsendLtd , and what appears to be “agricultural engineers” on it along with the remains of something else that I can’t read but possibly a phone number.
Fenton Townsend : a brief history
A little digging has enabled us to discover that the roots of the company go back to the early 1860s and a young blacksmith called Joseph Bentley Fenton, the son of a master blacksmith. Joseph diversified into agricultural machine hire alongside the implement making, he built his business during the “golden years” of British Agriculture.
Born in 1839 , by his early twenties Joseph had a good business, his adverts provide an insight into the continued growth of his company .
1868 Stamford Mercury : Joseph Fenton operates fom Heckington
Newspaper advertisements refer to newly patented “jointed chisel harrows” ( 1877) which he would be happy to send, on approval, to any railway station in England.
In 1861 young Joseph B Fenton , Master Blacksmith, was living in Skellingthorpe with his wife Caroline, the couple went on to have 16 children.
By 1871 the family were living in Great Hale, Joseph was listed as a Blacksmith and owner of a steam threshing machine, his younger brother David is also present, an engine fitter and owner ( presumably co-owners) of a steam threshing machine.
In August of that year the London Gazette records the dissolution of the partnership between the brothers, machinists and machine owners at Great Hale. All debts due to and from the Company would be paid and received by Joseph Bentley Fenton.
Joseph Fenton traded as JB Fenton (& Son) in Sleaford for a further 30 years, attending many shows as an implement maker and dealer.
Following his retirement in 1922 his third son, Frederick, continued the business. Joseph’s elder sons also continued in the family trade. William B Bentley ran his own implement making business in Eagle, his brother Joseph worked as an iron founder.
Joseph Bentley Fenton died in July 1925, aged 85, his company continued.
Frederick Townsend was born in Leeds in 1869, at the age of aged 15 years he became apprenticed to his uncle, Alfred Cooling, in Metheringham. Alfred was an ironmonger, china and glass, and general dealer he died in 1895 at the age of 44. His wife Lucy Ann died the following September leaving Fred to continue the business. In 1901 his records his trade as an agricultural machine dealer and ironmonger.
F Townsend ( and Son ) became large machinery dealers, well known in the agricultural sector County wide. There must have been many occasions between 1900 and 1922 ( the date of Joseph’s retirement) when JB Fenton and F Townsend & Son exhibited at the same shows.
On March 6th 1930 the creation of a new company Fenton Townsend Ltd was announced.
The objects of the new company were:
To acquire the business of an agricultural implement manufacturer and motor dealer and agent, carried on by F Fenton at North Road Works, Sleaford as “JB Fenton and sons”
There were three Directors being:
F.Fenton of Millfield House, North Rd Sleaford, Agricultural Engineer.
F. Townsend, Lindum House, Metheringham, Agricultural implement agent.
F Townsend and Son had acquired their much sought after manufacturer.
F Townsend died in 1944 at the age of 75, his obituary notes that he was the Director of F Townsend and Son Ltd and Fenton Townsend Ltd.
Joseph Fenton’s “little wonder” plough was one of his most successful implements, Fenton ploughs sit among the likes of Ransomes, Edlington and Hornsby in museum collections across the County.
Upon his loss in 1925 local newspapers reported Joseph Bentley Fenton as being one of Sleaford’s “oldest and most esteemed residents” . Frederick Townsend died in 1944 at the age of 75, he was praised for his public works having “served the village for 40 years”.
Fenton Townsend Ltd survived as a company into the mid eighties.
Beyond the day job, and the garden, I love to delve into local and family history. While pursuing one project other snippets frequently distract me, resulting in the eclectic mix of tales from the past found here.
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