Ridley, John

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b. 1806 West Boldon, Co. Durham, England
d. 1887 Malvern, England
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English developer of the stripper harvester which led to a machine suited to the conditions of Australia and South America.
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John Ridley was a preacher in his youth, and then became a mill owner before migrating to Australia with his wife and daughters in 1839. Intending to continue his business in the new colony, he took with him a "Grasshopper" overbeam steam-engine made by James Watt, together with milling equipment. Cereal acreages were insufficient for the steam power he had available, and he expanded into saw milling as well as farming 300 acres. Aware of the Adelaide trials of reaping machines, he eventually built a prototype using the same principles as those developed by Wrathall Bull. After a successful trial in 1843 Ridley began the patent procedure in England, although he never completed the project. The agricultural press was highly enthusiastic about his machine, but when trials took place in 1855 the award went to a rival. The development of the stripper enabled a spectacular increase in the cereal acreage planted over the next decade. Ridley left Australia in 1853 and returned to England. He built a number of machines to his design in Leeds; however, these failed to perform in the much damper English climate. All of the machines were exported to South America, anticipating a substantial market to be exploited by Australian manufacturers.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
In 1913 a Ridley scholarship was established by the faculty of Agriculture at Adelaide University.
Further Reading
G.Quick and W.Buchele, 1978, The Grain Harvesters, American Society of Agricultural Engineers (includes a chapter devoted to the Australian developments).
A.E.Ridley, 1904, A Backward Glance (describes Ridley's own story).
G.L.Sutton, 1937, The Invention of the Stripper (a review of the disputed claims between Ridley and Bull).
L.J.Jones, 1980, "John Ridley and the South Australian stripper", The History of
Technology, pp. 55–103 (a more detailed study).
——1979, "The early history of mechanical harvesting", The History of Technology, pp. 4,101–48 (discusses the various claims to the first invention of a machine for mechanical harvesting).
AP

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

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