Ransome, Robert

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b. 1753 Wells, Norfolk, England
d. 1830 England
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English inventor of a self-sharpening ploughshare and all-metal ploughs with interchangeable pans.
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The son of a Quaker schoolmaster, Ransome served his apprenticeship with a Norfolk iron manufacturer and then went into business on his own in the same town, setting up one of the first brass and iron foundries in East Anglia. At an early stage of his career he was selling into Norfolk and Suffolk, well beyond the boundaries to be expected from a local craftsman. He achieved this through the use of forty-seven agents acting on his behalf. In 1789, with one employee and £200 capital, he transferred to Ipswich, where the company was to remain and where there was easier access to both raw materials and his markets. It was there that he discovered that cooling one part of a metal share during its casting could result in a self-sharpening share, and he patented the process in 1785.
Ransome won a number of awards at the early Bath and West shows, a fact which demonstrates the extent of his markets. In 1808 he patented an all-metal plough made up of interchangeable parts, and the following year was making complete ploughs for sale. With interchangeable parts he was able to make composite ploughs suitable for a wide variety of conditions and therefore with potential markets all over the country.
In 1815 he was joined by his son James, and at about the same time by William Cubitt. With the expertise of the latter the firm moved into bridge building and millwrighting, and was therefore able to withstand the agricultural depression which began to affect other manufacturers from about 1815. In 1818, under Cubitt's direction, Ransome built the gas-supply system for the town of Ipswich. In 1830 his grandson James Ransome joined the firm, and it was under his influence that the agricultural side was developed. There was a great expansion in the business after 1835.
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Further Reading
J.E.Ransome, 1865, Ploughs and Ploughing at the Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester in 1865, in which he outlined the accepted theories of the day.
J.B.Passmore, 1930, The English Plough, Reading: University of Reading (provides a history of plough development from the eighth century to the in ter-war period).
Ransome's Royal Records 1789–1939, produced by the company; D.R.Grace and D.C.Phillips, 1975, Ransomes of Ipswich, Reading: Institute of Agricultural History, Reading University (both provide information about Ransome in a more general account about the company and its products; Reading University holds the company archives).
AP

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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