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B1991 Part of a single furrow mouldboard plough, iron, made by Avery, USA, used by William Farrer at Lambrigg, Canberra, Australia, 1875-1885. Click to enlarge.

Single share plough used at Lambrigg, Canberra

Made in England, 1875-1885.
This fine example of a single-share ironwork plough dates from around 1880. It was imported from England by William Farrer who developed the rust-resistant Federation wheat strain that provided a major boost to the Australian wheat industry. Farrer lived on a station in the Australian Capital Territory named 'Limbrigg' and wanted to use this plough for potato farming. His experiments with wheat however postponed his using the plough and after his death in 1906 it was relegated to the station dump.

Around 1945 a farmer named John Bluett who ran a property near 'Limbrigg' was complaining to a neighbour about the trouble he was having keeping casual staff to dig up his potato crop. His neighbour suggested he visit 'Limbrigg' and see if he could find William Farrer's old potato plough which Bluett duly did. The plough was found in the dump but the fact that the wood had rotted did not prevent Bluett from taking it home and fixing it up. Although over 70 years old by this time the potato plough proved itself as useful as ever. It saved on labour and was economical enough for Bluett to use to harvest his potato's for over seven years, in between loans to neighbouring potato farmers. The development of the plough represented a significant shift in human evolution. Although the first ploughs were simple devices made from forked sticks they allowed farmers to prepare larger fields for seeding. Instead of simply tilling the soil for their own needs the plough helped farmers develop commercially viable fields.

The plough was thought to have developed first in Egypt but as the technology was taken up around the world people soon found that they needed to modify the design to account for different soil types. However a major change to design occurred in the mid 1600s when Joseph Foljambe from Holland introduced a plough which had fittings and a coulter made from iron and a mouldboard and share covered with iron plate. In 1763 John Small applied mathematical calculations to the mouldboard shape and eventually produced a shape that would turn the soil more effectively with less draft, wear and strain. This plough known as 'Scots Plough' was the beginning of the plough we all know today.

The introduction of metal allowed ploughs to become more efficient in wetter climates and by 1850 attempts were made to use the steam engine to drive the plough. However the slowness and heavy weight of these machines meant it was introduced in a very limited way. For this reason almost all ploughs remained tethered to animals until the early years of twentieth century. The invention of the automobile in the early twentieth century and the subsequent development of tractors to pull larger ploughing equipment speeded up the farming processes. This allowed greater areas to be tilled and planted increasing the productivity of those nations able to untether the plough from animal power.

References, (viewed 17.11.2006),, (viewed 17.11.2006) , (viewed 21.11.2006)

Geoff Barker, March 2007


Object No.


Object Statement

Part of a single furrow mouldboard plough, iron, made by Avery, USA, used by William Farrer at Lambrigg, Canberra, Australia, 1875-1885

Physical Description

Part of a single furrow mouldboard plough, iron, made by Avery, USA, used by William Farrer at Lambrigg, Canberra, Australia, 1875-1885

A wood and iron plough with raised text on either side of the main shaft. The surface of the plough shows some evidence of rust.


'AVERY' appears in raised letters on the main shaft of the plough



600 mm


430 mm



England 1875-1885



William Farrer had planned to do research on potatoes as well as wheat so he imported a potato plough from America. The wheat research was all consuming so the potato research had to be abandoned. The potato plough remained on the property, Lambrigg, where the timber handles rotted away. Fifty years later, John Bluett, was given the plough by the then owner of Lambrigg. They found the ironwork sitting among the rubbish on the farm. John Bluett built new wooden handles for the plough and used it to dig potatoes on his property, Girraween, Tidbinbilla near Lambrigg. He also used it on a farm named "Koorabri", Brindabella. John Bluett left Koorabri in 1971 and donated the plough to the museum in 1972.

The above information was supplied to the museum in 2004 by John Bluett's daughter, Bev Johnson. She supplied the text of a letter written by her grandfather, WP Bluett to Dame Mary Gilmore in 1952. The original letter resides with the Mitchell Library.


Credit Line

Gift of Mr J A Bluett, 1972

Acquisition Date

19 December 1972

Cite this Object


Single share plough used at Lambrigg, Canberra 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 6 July 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Single share plough used at Lambrigg, Canberra |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=6 July 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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