Sutton Bridge engineered bulb lifters goes to Isles of Scilly

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A little bit of the agricultural engineering history of Sutton Bridge has been carried forward into the 21st century.

Ken Spiller of engineering company Veeract (PortApack) has just sent the first two updated bulb lifters off the manufacturing line to farms on the Isles of Scilly.

Ken bought the production rights to the Summerfield Bulb Lifter from the grandson of the old village blacksmith in the 1990s, a design that had remained unchanged since the 1960s.

Ken explained Martin Summerfield had worked with his grandfather Sid, as well as his father who sadly died early.

Ken said: “When Martin packed up about ten to 15 years ago he came round and asked if I wanted to take the bulb lifter over, which I did. There’s also the spare parts to sell to the people who have got them, and I bought the technical drawings and information.”

Ken estimates there are probably 250 or more lifters scattered throughout the country, although many of them are probably not now in use as a result of the decline of the UK bulb industry.

However, bulb lifters are still used in Cornwall, Southern Wales and Southern Ireland, as well as in south Lincolnshire.

In the time Ken has had the rights, he has made about 15 machines, and the success of a small conversion five years ago encouraged him to make further alterations, which he says have worked “extremely well, very quiet and very fast”.