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Remembering How It Was Done

For those who remember raking leaves for months on end in the park, cast your mind back to the forage harvester that was regularly seen in the autumn time scurrying about behind a tractor on the large, grassed areas. The Kensington Post of 29 November 1957, reported on its introduction into the Royal Parks.

It reported that,

The collection of fallen leaves in the country’s parks is a task which has so far defied mechanisation. Over 80 men are employed every day during the autumn and early winter in Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park and other Royal Parks, raking up the leaves and covering a thousand acres of ground. Mr R A Stephenson, Hyde Park foreman, describes leaf collection as, “a great nuisance.”

The answer?

A machine now being used in Hyde Park, says Mr J Barbour superintendent of London’s Royal Parks, may be the answer. First imported from America to cut and pick up grass for cattle feed, it is now doing the work of 20 men by collecting fallen leaves and delivering them into the accompanying trailer.The machine was tested in front of park superintendents from around London and the Home Counties. To make sure the test was a hard one, Mr Stephenson applied 600 gallons of water to 20 square yards of leaves and then went over the area with a seven-ton roller.The machine, invented by Mr Vernon Lundell the son of an American farmer, ploughed through the leaves leaving behind a perfectly clean sward. Three workmen, leaning on their rakes smiled happily, “It looks as if we won’t be needed for this job next year” said one who had worked in Hyde Park for nine years.
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