From the Darlington & Stockton Times of September 16, 1871

THERE was much excitement in Teesdale 150 years ago, as the Duke of Cleveland had taken delivery of the first steam plough, made at John Fowler’s works in Leeds.

Fowler, who had started his engineering career in Middlesbrough and was married to a daughter of the south Durham MP Joseph Pease, was as famous for inventing in his day as Sir James Dyson.

His steam plough had been mathematically proven to plough a field faster than horses by connecting two engines on either side of the field with cables and dragging the plough across the soil between them.

“They are calculated to plough 12 acres per day,” said the D&S, with critics expecting the hilly nature of the field at Raby Castle to severely test the device.

“During the day, large numbers of people visited the field and it seemed to be the general opinion that the apparatus made capital work.”

Fowler had died, aged 38, in 1864. He is buried in the Quaker graveyard in Darlington and there is a memorial to him in the town’s South Park. Once it had a model steam plough on top of it, but that disappeared in about 1970.