In the early 19th century Lincolnshire started to see changes that the industrial revolution brought to this country and Boston became the first town in the County to be industrialised. The main occupation then, as now, was agriculture and large industrial concerns in Boston arose to design implements and machines to make the growing of crops more labour efficient. Some of these machines went on to transform agriculture across the world.
There had been blacksmiths, wheelwrights and other ironworkers in the county for centuries and as the 19th century progressed some workshops started to grow into large engineering works. In 1803 William Howden started the Grand Sluice Ironworks at the inland port of Witham Town adjacent to the Sluice; this was the first in Boston. By 1827 he had made the first steam engines to be produced in Lincolnshire and they were used on river craft trading between Boston and Lincoln.
William Wedd Tuxford built a windmill at Mount Bridge, just outside Boston, in about 1822. He invented a machine to clean the wheat before it was milled, which he patented about 1830. Other millers wanted this machine so he set up a workshop beside his mill and when his sons joined him at the end of the decade, it developed into the Boston and Skirbeck Ironworks.
Tuxford and Sons produced the successful conception of the threshing drum which transformed agriculture round the world. These impressive machines were powered by a separate steam engine connected to it with a driving belt. The first ones were pulled by horses from farm to farm but later Tuxfords were involved in developing the steam traction engine. Such threshing sets, pulled by these traction engines were in use until the 1950s. Tuxfords’ products were exported worldwide, including to France, Russia, and Australia. Examples of their machines can still be seen in museums in Edinburgh, Paris and in Sweden.
John Fisher invented a strong form of luggage label, important as the railways made it easier for more people to travel long distances. His business flourished for over a century. At the end of the 19th century there were large steam mills that crushed imported seeds to produce oil cake for cattle feed and in the first half of the 20th century several factories were canning locally grown vegetables.
Other industries in Boston included the processing of feathers and water filters made by George Cheavin. Several firms made snuff and then cigars, the last works closing in the 1920s. Shoe Laces were made by Arthur Whittle & Co until the 1970’s. There were windmills in Boston town, all but one now gone, and also breweries and tanneries.