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Drage & Kent’s “Gyro Tiller”

by | Aug 7, 2015 | At Work, Farms and farming | 7 comments

This incredible beast of a machine was also known as a Diesel Rotary Plough and was made by Fowler of Leeds, who were better known for the manufacture of steam locomotives and traction engines. It was a real monster and was used for breaking up the heavy clay Essex soils and even the removal of roots and tree stumps. It moved very slowly across the land while the tiller bit into the soil – it looks rather like the blades inside a modern food blender!

The machine had a heavy, single front wheel and relied on its own weight to keep itself well set into the soil as it progressed. Machines like this were widely used in the 1930s and 1940s throughout the UK and abroad for bringing back into cultivation land which could not be tackled with ordinary implements.

This particular machine was apparently used in Church Road to reclaim a wooded area near Parkhouse Lane once the trees had been felled and removed. It also helped to prepare the land at Nuthampstead for the building of the air base there during WW2.

Reg Drury and George Harvey who worked for Drage & Kent used to operate the machine and its maintenance apparently often called for much mechanical improvisation when parts were needed.

A number of these machines have been preserved by enthusiasts.



  1. Brian Albon

    I hope the following may be of interest to others viewing this site.
    From a book on Fowler Gyrotillers called the “Fowler Gyrotiller Diesel Rotatary Plough Story” by Norman Southgate, page 47, the records therein show that the Gyrotiller owned by Drage and Kent was ordered on 19/7/1934 and delivered on the17/8/1934.
    The machine’s serial number was 20218 and it was one of the large 170 h.p. machines

    Does anyone know anything else about this machine or what it’s fate was?

    • Rosemarie Gant

      Thank you for that Brian. I don’t think this machine is around any more – I will see if I can get more information.

  2. Andy clarke

    My grandad restored one in the 70’s front no plate was ug 7047

    • Rosemarie Gant

      Wow – wonder where it is now Andy?

      • Andy clarke

        I’m trying to locate it I have a picture of the 170 the 4/40 both on a trailer at the great Dorset steam fair but unsure if I can post it any info you need I’m happy to help

        • Rosemarie Gant

          Thanks Andy – well if you do find it do let us know!


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