Lainchbury's was an agricultural engineering company engaged in the manufacture of farm equipment and machinery

The story of the Lainchbury company starts in 1807 when John Lainchbury was born.

He married in 1832, they had seven children one of whom was called Caleb who we shall hear more of later.

In 1862, John Lainchbury bought a small portable steam engine and a 48 inch threshing machine. The engine had wheels but no motive power so had to be moved using horses. This was to be the start of Lainchbury's involvement as Steam threshing contractors

In 1868, John bought his first traction engine that could move under its own power together with another threshing machine this time a 51 inch version. As with his first machinery these were made by Lampitts of Banbury.

Sometime in the 1870's, John Lainchbury moved to Kingham where he established a workshop complete with a forge and brass foundry.

John Lainchbury passed away in 1881 and his son Caleb took over the running of the business.

Caleb Lainchbury was born in Cornwell in 1845, with his wife Elizabeth they had seven children, the one important to Lainchburys history being Ernest John (senior) we shall hear more of Ernest John a bit later on.

After Caleb's father John passed away, Caleb purchased some land in the village of Kingham, Oxfordshire on which the engineering works of Lainchburys was established.

Caleb bought more threshing equipment and further expanded the threshing side of the business. He also started to manufacture other farm equipment including carts, waggons and milk floats.

In his book "Kingham the Beloved Place" E.J. lainchbury jnr says that Caleb also made some threshing machines although most of this work was undertaken by his son Ernest John Lainchbury (senior).

However I am reliably informed by David Lainchbury (since publishing this site) that Lainchburys never actually made any Threshers even though the ones they owned carried their name, they did nonetheless make modifications to the machines, one such was a fan to discharge ‘caveings’ (husks) from the corn.

The picture to the right shows Caleb Lainchbury proudly displaying his agricultural equipment on his trade stand at an agricultural show in the early years of the 20th century.

Sometime in the 1870's, Caleb Lainchbury saw a picture of a French built cycle and decided to make one himself, the back wheel was pivoted for steering unlike today's machines which made it very unpredictable and although it was good at going around corners it had a nasty habit of collapsing and throwing the rider off, after several such accidents he took the cycle into the workshop and smashed it up with a sledge hammer muttering the words "I'll break your neck before you break mine"

Caleb Lainchbury passed away in September 1918.

The picture above shows Caleb Lainchbury's display at a show in Chipping Norton in 1915.

The photo above left is of Lainchbury's engineering works at Kingham in 1914. Caleb is just visible in the centre of the photograph.

The photo above on the right shows a set of Lainchbury's Threshing Tackle on the road between Chipping Norton and Churchill in 1918. The Traction Engine is an Aveling and Porter whilst the Threshing machine was made by Lainchburys themselves.

Ernest John Lainchbury (senior) was born in 1868, in 1896 he married Kate Eaton, they had five children, three of whom became directors of Lainchburys, they were Ernest John (junior) born 1897, Charles Edward born 1901 and Arthur William born 1903. Two other children were Evelyn Kate born 1907 and George Caleb born 1911, neither played any part in the Lainchbury business.

The photo to the left is of Lainchbury's Threshing drum and Straw Trusser in 1920

After Caleb Lainchbury passed away in 1918 Ernest John Senior took over the running of the company. In 1928 Ernest John bought all the patterns, jigs and designs for the Roberts range of Straw and hay elevators after the firm Roberts of Deanshanger had gone into liquidation.

The Roberts models were made and sold under the Roberts Premier brand whilst the Lainchbury's design elevators were sold under the brand name Superlyte.

Please click the elevator images for more details

Under Ernest John senior the company continued to expand and as well as the manufacture of elevators he also manufactured small steam boilers, sterilizers for farming use and tractor winches, they also made balers. The Elevators were being sold all over the world and up unto and during the second world war the demand was so great that there was often a waiting list for one of up to two or three years.

Some of the people in the video are as follows :

  • On the Tractor are Mark and Aden Eaton, Mark is on the left.
  • Young Lads are David and Michael Lainchbury.
  • Tom Eaton is on the top of the haystack.
  • Italian POW Helping Tom on the Hayrick.
  • Mrs Arthur (Emmie) Lainchbury..
  • Mrs Charles (Florrie) Lainchbury
  • A Land Girl helping on the Threshing drum.
  • POW helping out.

Left image is of Lainchbury's Elevators awaiting despatch from Kingham station. The picture to the right is Lainchbury's steam Threshing taking place at Chastleton Hill in 1916

To the is left is Ernest John Lainchbury senior on his 90th birthday. In 1938 he changed the company name to Lainchbury and sons Ltd, thus bringing 3 of his sons into the business.

He was a remarkable man and in 1955 at the age of 87 was machining a crankshaft on a lathe that he had purchased some 50 years earlier.

He played an active part in the business until he died in 1961 at the age of 93.

Click for a large view

A group of Lainchbury's workers, Charles Lainchbury is on the left at the end whilst Arthur Lainchbury in on the right next to Mary Dunford.

During the second world war the manufacture of elevators increased and these were sent by the railways to all parts of the country. The production of other farm type implements such as winches was also increased.

Part of the works was turned over to making munitions inc various parts for bombs, shells and mines. One such item they made for the war effort was Rocket Heads. After the war Boxes and boxes of these were left in Lainchbury's yard next to the village school, we used to play with them as Children (they were not equipped with explosives). Some more information about the Rocket Heads is below.

Click image for a large view

As with other companies wartime was very busy for Lainchburys with over 100 people employed there including many females from neighbouring villages who wanted to 'do their bit' for the war effort. One such lady was Mrs Hall from Stow on the Wold who at age 90 was employed in the paintwork department.

The work was hard but there was as is often the case in wartime a good camaraderie between the workers with the satisfaction of a worthwhile job well done.

After the evacuation at Dunkirk in 1940 Charles Lainchbury assembled the entire workforce into the factory where prayers were said for deliverance from the enemy.

The short film above entitled Lainchbuys "The Old Firm" has many clips of work in the factory during WWII

During the war years and into the early 1950's threshing with steam declined and much of Lainchbury's threshing equipment was laid idle; some in the works yard and others in various yards and storage areas around Kingham, most of it never to be used again.

Several traction engines were parked in a small yard alongside the village school and as children we often played on them quite happily, In the 1950's there were no health and safety laws to worry about. in fact as a youngster I adored those engines. Charles Lainchbury was quite a character and a very friendly fellow, he would always stop for a chat and my mother often informed him of my love of the engines, to which he always replied "when you are older you shall have one"! However I never got one and heaven only knows where I would have kept it had my wish come true.

Their work finished for ever these poor tired old engines, with no one to want them, were left in various places around Kingham to rot away.

The demand for elevators which had sold so well up to and during WWII ended abruptly around 1950 as did the threshing side of the business. This was due to changes in farming practice and the use of combine harvesters. Lainchburys had quite a few unwanted threshing machines stored away in various places in Kingham, at the time they were of little interest to anyone. In fact, for several years, a machine was placed on the village green and on each November 5th, bonfire night, was set alight (they were largely made of wood); the metal parts were collected next day to be sold as scrap!

After Lainchburys discontinued the manufacture of elevators they turned their attention to other agricultural equipment including grain cleaners such as the Warden and Don models. They also produced bucket grain elevators and chain elevators as shown below.

Mobile Grain cleaner

Don Grain cleaner

Double Warden Grain cleaner

Lainchbury's factory from the air, the area inside red line belonged to Lainchburys. You may click the image for a larger view.

Left to right, Ernest J Lainchbury (junior), David Lainchbury, Charles E Lainchbury and Arthur W Lainchbury outside Kingham village hall.

You may click the image for a larger view.

What follows is a true story. When I was a young lad (about 15) my friend Harold and myself worked for Mr Charles Lainchbury in the evenings for pocket money. Although we were young, we were both quite good at woodwork. Mr Charles had a super workshop at his home just around the corner from the factory, however, the workshop had no equipment for machining timber and Mr Charles used to let us go around to the factory and use the machines whilst the works was closed in the evening (you have to remember this was in the days before health and safety laws existed).

On one such occasion my friend and myself had gone to the works to machine some wood using the huge 24" planer, the sound of which brought Mr Ernest J Lainchbury (senior) to find us there. Mr Ernest said " What are you boys doing here? You should not be using these machines" (of course he was quite right) we replied "Mr Charles sent us round" to which he retorted "well jolly well go back and tell him you are not allowed". So back we went and spoke to Mr Charles who replied, "Well go back around and tell him to mind his own business!". You have to understand that E J senior was Mr Charles' father, it was all good natured though.

Things are so different today, youngsters are more concerned with using smart phones, tablets and other gadgets and many are not interested in mechanical things and woodwork. Back in the 1950's and 60's a computer was a person who added things up! Under Mr Charles' supervision both Harold and myself were quite competent at woodwork and working in the factory during the school holidays we were knowledgeable in using various machines.

The Lainchbury family were well respected in and around Kingham, especially so Mr Charles Lainchbury who was a very colourful character. Anyone who wanted a bit of help or support, he would always do his best to assist as much as he could. Locals usually referred to him as Mr Charles or Charlie.

Quite often he would be found visiting the older residents in the village to have a chat and perhaps bring them a bundle of kindling wood for their fireplaces cut from wood offcuts from the factory.

If you did something wrong he would say, "oh you are a silly boy" and "you are the silliest boy in Kingham" it was not limited to others though, sometimes I would hear him saying to himself " Charlie Lainchbury, silliest boy in Kingham" and when something went wrong he used to say "Oh bother,bother,bother"!

One day Harold was trying to teach me to drive the Lainchbury van in Mr Charles' driveway behind the house, being only 15yrs old I was keen but had no idea what I was doing. Harold put the gear lever in reverse and I promptly backed the van into the house. Mr Charles came out of the house and looking at the dent in his van and mark on his brickwork emitted those immortal words "Bother, Bother,Bother", followed by the usual, "you are the silliest boy in Kingham"; then went back inside to finish his tea! I was of course terrified but he was unconcerned about the event and never mentioned it again, I gave up driving until I was 17!

After the demise or the successful elevator range Lainchburys did very well with their range of grain cleaners designed by Ernest J Lainchbury (junior) . These became very popular throughout Great Britain.

The one shown here was known as the "Double Warden" is was based along the same lines as the successful "Warden" model.

Grain is fed into a 48"x 24" hopper and is spread evenly across the machine by a fluted feed roller with an adjustable spring to allow stones to pass through. Dust and light rubbish are extracted by an aspirating system and can be blown a considerable distance in any direction.

Four sets of removable sieves complete the cleaning operation whilst 24 brushes keep the sieves clean.

My late uncle Frank Palmer put together the very first Lainchburys grain cleaner, he also made the very last one having worked for Lainchburys from the age of leaving school until they ceased production.

Sadly the end came for Lainchburys in 1987, Charles Lainchbury's son David did his best to keep the business going but changes in agricultural practices made the company no longer viable. For over 100 years the Factory had provided employment for many people in and around Kingham, at times over 100 people worked for the company. I visited my uncle at the factory just before it closed and I was very sad to see how difficult things had become, the once bustling works was now quiet with just a handful working there.

The Lainchbury family were well respected and pillars of the community in Kingham, it would not be wrong to say that they played a big part in making Kingham the lovely village it is today. Hopefully the company Lainchbury and sons will be long remembered.

I am indebted to David Lainchbury (last owner of Lainchburys) who has kindly given me extra information enabling me to update the site and correct some minor errors in the history. (David is the son of the late Charles E Lainchbury.)

This site is dedicated to my late uncle Frank Palmer who worked for the Lainchbury family for 47 years. Click here to read a little of him