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Working drawing of plough, the 'Vixen'
Title : Working drawing of plough, the 'Vixen' Working drawing of plough, the 'Vixen'
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Creator : Smith, Clarence Herbert, 1855-1901
Source : PRG 432/4/1
Date of creation : 1876
Format : Artwork
Contributor : State Library catalogue
Catalogue record
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Description :

Rough sketch of first 'Vixen' Stump-Jump Plough attached to back of scarifier implement, made at Kalkabury (now Arthurton), 1876.

Designed by brothers Richard and Clarence Smith of Yorke Peninsula, the stump jump plough allowed farmers to cultivate the land without removing rocks and stumps. Along with the Ridley stripper (another South Australian invention), the stump jump plough revolutionised farming worldwide.

Widespread land clearing in the 1860s and 1870s meant a vast number of mallee stumps were left in the ground. This posed an expensive problem to farmers as they tried to plough their land. The stump jump plough was designed to jump over the stumps, thus protecting the implement from breakage and avoiding the cost of removing each individual stump.

Named the 'Vixen stone and stump jumping plough' by blacksmith Richard Bowyer Smith, the Vixen was his second attempt. The first invention was a three furrow plough but this proved too heavy to be easily pulled by a horse team. On 9 November 1876 Richard exhibited both the triple and single furrow ploughs at the Moonta Agricultural Show. His younger brother, Clarence Herbert Smith, had produced the working drawings while apprenticed to Richard at Port Wakefield. He constructed the first stump jump ploughs under Richard's direction. Clarence later continued to improve the design while farming at Kalkabury.

Clarence married Emma Beck in 1879 and established a factory at Ardrossan in 1880 where he began manufacturing improved versions of the original plough. He died of illness in 1901 at the age of 45. He prepared his teenage sons Glen and Alma Smith to carry on the business. They did this very successfully for thirty years until the economic downturn caused by the 1930s Depression forced the business to close.

Richard patented the invention in 1877 but due to failures in performance and the expense of renewial, he allowed the patent to lapse a year later. He moved to Western Australia in 1884 and eventually set up a business to manufacture the stump jump plough. At various times he also took up a farming lease, ran a hotel and managed railway refreshment rooms. Richard remained in Western Australia until his death in 1919 at the age of 81.

As the master blacksmith, Richard is often acknowledged as the inventor of the plough, but both brothers should be credited.

Related names :

Smith, Richard Bowyer, 1837-1919

Smith, Clarence Herbert, 1855-1901

Coverage year : 1876
Period : 1852-1883
Place : Arthurton (formerly Kalkabury)
Region : Yorke Peninsula
Further reading :

Kelly, WS Rural development in South Australia, Adelaide: Rigby, 1962

McPhee, Margaret The dictionary of Australian inventors and discoveries, St. Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1993

Neumann, Beryl The Smith brothers and the stump jump plough, Maitland, SA: National Trust of South Australia, Central Yorke Peninsula Branch, 1986

Port, Leo with Brian Murray Australian inventors, Stanmore, NSW: Cassell Australia, 1978

Internet links :

Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Richard Bowyer Smith

Flinders Ranges Research: Smith brothers, stump jump plough

SA Memory See other versions of the stump jump plough



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