Creber, John (b.1930)

This recording was made in 1989 as part of the research for an exhibition at the Somerset Rural Life Museum entitled ‘Made in Somerset’.  John Creber talks about the history of Wensley’s, an agricultural engineering firm in Mark from 1860–1920.  John’s father, Dick Creber, bought the Wensley’s wheelwright shop in 1928. He continued to make wagons and carts until rubber tyres arrived and wheelwrighting largely came to an end in the 1960s, when John took over the business and concentrated on joinery.


Albert Day’s iron foundry in Mark cast some of Wensley’s presses and implements. Another Mark business, E C Tucker & Sons, made motor mowers out of old cars in the 1930s.

Workers from Mark Foundry. Workers from Mark Foundry.
Sound File
Listen to John Creber - 1.64MB Duration 3:35 min.

JC: So James Wensley founded the firm and I think it was about 1860 that he, he actually took over.


You see, they, they patented that thing; now what’s the, that’s 1894.  They actually ran a patent out on this, what is now obviously the– what do they call that thing that they put behind tractors – a manure distributor.  You know, the thing that they, this very modern tank that they, they put behind the tractor and it slings it out all over the field.


Well, Wensley actually patented that; that was the original and it was more or less the same thing.  It had a, had a gate here and that revolving chains inside were driven by the wheels but it was the same principle, and they patented that but couldn’t afford to keep the patent up.


AH: So what happened?


JC: Well, it’s, it was anybody’s then, you see, and from that you, is evolved, is the foregoer [of] most modern manure distributors but they were the first apparently, as far as I know, to make this.  They, they sort of designed it and it was very successful, and then they, they drew out a patent on it, but they couldn’t afford to keep it.


Apparently it cost them quite a lot of money every year to keep this patent up and they couldn’t afford to do this, so they had to drop it.  Course and soon as they did, then everyone else got on the band-wagon, all people making these sort of things.


Um, Tuckers were, although they’re farmers, they were famous for their Tuckers’ mowers, and down in an orchard which is gone now, they had hundreds, literally hundreds of cars that would be worth millions today.  I mean the old Morris Oxfords and you name it, they had them down there during the War, and they converted these cars into motor mowers.


They’d take the bodies off of them, and they put iron wheels on the back, using the same principle as this ...showing picture in catalogue, um the picture... It was, I don’t know where it is, it was one of them went up the road, well the other day, twelve months ago, one of Tuckers’ motor mowers; it must have been an antique thing.  What they did was they, they, I mean it was quite big business.  They, they must []  farm.


They had um, lathes, metal-working lathes and what, in those days, was the most modern machinery which was commandeered by the government during the war.  You know, they, anyone that wasn’t making munitions, they had the machinery, they commandeered it, so it was before the War Tuckers made this.


Now what they did, they took the back wheels off the um, off the car and they put these wheels on where the back wheel should be on the car, and then from the engine, whereas the wheels when the horse pulled it along, there was a cog-wheel and a gearbox, and these wheels drove that blade which goes backwards and forwards in there.


Well, all they did was they put these wheels on the car and a chain from the engine to the gearbox.  Therefore that used to drive these things and they were called Tuckers’ Motor Mowers. They were very, very famous actually, and they were actually made of all old cars such as, well I know there was Morris Oxfords and stuff like that down there that, that they used and they had literally hundreds of these cars in the orchard which now would be worth a small fortune.

Copyright Information
Copyright. This recording was made by Ann Heeley in April 1989. Photograph ©Mrs P Redman. For access to full interview please contact the Somerset Heritage Centre.