Who was the most famous person from Market Lavington?

That’s probably a hard one to answer but a leading contender must be William Cambridge. Many people will wonder who he was or what he did, but farmers, the world over, use Cambridge rollers. They were invented by William Cambridge in Market Lavington and first manufactured at his works in the village in the 1840s. William also manufactured portable steam engines in Market Lavington as well as all sorts of other agricultural equipment. And he exported all over the world. We know sugar growers in the West Indies used Cambridge equipment as did farmers in Australia and across Europe.

But William is most famous for his Cambridge rollers, which use a series of separate V shaped metal wheels, rather than one large flat wheel to make the roller.

The Museum of English Rural Life at Reading has this advertisement for William Cambridge available on their website. For display at Market Lavington we have ‘added’ a missing bottom part to the original advert held at Reading.

This advert for William Cambridge of Market Lavington is at the Museum of English Rural Life at Reading. We have a copy at Market Lavington Museum

A few days ago, Geoff, a farmer in the Midlands was in touch with the museum curator. Geoff has a William Cambridge roller, which he is restoring. He has kindly sent us some photos of his roller.

Geoff’s William Cambridge roller

This roller is slightly more recent than the Market Lavington made ones. William found Market Lavington just a bit inconvenient for his international business and he set up a new Lavington Iron Works in Bristol, which had a fine railway and international links from the flourishing docks.

Made in Bristol

The W Cambridge mark has been highlighted

Geoff’s main reason for making contact concerned colour. The iron work would, originally, have been painted. Sadly our black and white drawings do not show colour and Geoff, looking ahead to a finished item, wants to know what colour the Cambridge company used.

Can anyone out there help? If so, do contact the curator.

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2 Responses to “Who was the most famous person from Market Lavington?”

  1. William Colbourne Cambridge « Market Lavington Museum Says:

    […] We recently featured a Cambridge roller under restoration. You can see this roller by clicking here. […]

  2. Cultivating Salisbury Plain « Market Lavington Museum Says:

    […] The tractor is hauling a vast roller – it covers a huge swathe of land in one pass – based on a very old design originally devised by a chap called William Cambridge. William has featured on these pages before because, for a while, back in the 1830s and 40s he was a Market Lavington man. Indeed, the first Cambridge rollers were made in Market Lavington. […]

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