We have recently received our first ever MK1 production Allett Mower kindly donated back to us at the Allett factory in Hixon. Before displaying it in reception we thought it would be a great idea if we could give the mower a little TLC before displaying it proudly at Regal House. There is a great blog here from Pitchcare by Roy Allett who describes his father's childhood days, the history of Allett and the early days of the Allett business with his father Reg becoming the breadwinner of the Allett family at just seven years old in Stamford in Lincolnshire.
Allett founder Reg Allett on the MK1 in 1966
We spoke with Roy Allett (son of Allett founder Reg) who gave us a little bit of history on the first ever production mower and where it went. This mower was one of the first three originals.
''The first Allett model was the Allett 36" MK1 powered by the Reliant 3 wheeler car engine and gearbox. Just imagine four cylinders, water-cooled, 24.2hp, electric start, it was smooth, quiet and powerful. Allett soon became the Groundsman's choice. Other manufacturers suffered as a result and production at some of these plants ceased soon after. This machine was aimed at the Sports Field market and very soon Allett were supplying all the test cricket grounds in England and many county grounds along with some of the major football clubs and sports stadiums not only in the UK but also throughout Europe. Machines were also sold to some very prestigious lawn areas such as the Royal Palaces and many of the National Trust Establishments.
The first MK1 production mower (Serial Number 66001) was sold to Doctor Harper for mowing his lawn. He lived in the village of Sutton on Trent in Nottinghamshire and was a keen cricketer who played for the village XI. He took his new mower down to stripe up the outfield in preparation for a charity game involving some of the Notts County professional players. These guys were so impressed with the outfield (and the mower that produced it) that Frank Dalin, the County Head Groundsman was quickly involved and Notts CC were the first county ground to buy an Allett mower. The Deputy Head groundsman at Nottinghamshire Cricket Club Jim Fairbrother later became Head Groundsman at Lords and introduced Allett Mowers to the MCC. The legend had begun''
The mower weighed about one third of a ton and has a four speed and reverse gearbox and a 600cc four cylinder engine. The mower stayed at the club for many years until the club folded and the mower was sold on to Norwell cricket club. This is where we hear the story of the next stage of it's journey from Dan Magee.
Out of interest- Mower number two went to Cadbury's at Bournville and number three to Colchester Parks Department).
Dan Magee (Previous owner who kindly donated the MK1 back to us)
Roy was recently contacted by Dan Magee who kindly donated the Mk1 to the Allett factory.
''Basically from my end; one day my father-in-law mentioned there was a lawn mower around the back of the yard and asked if I wanted to have a look at it before he scrapped it (we are on a farm). I kind of brushed it off as it being a garden mower and didn’t really think much about it. One day I was helping him do something when I walked past this “mower” in the scrap pile and said ''what is that?'' He said ''it's the mower I was telling you about'', so I thought well he can't be scrapping that. I moved all the scrap metal off it as it was going for scrap and moved it into my shed.
Dan's father-in-law Adrian Baugh seconds after starting the mower up for the first time in many years.
I left it in there for a month or so before doing anything and one weekend I finally got round to it. I stuck a battery on it and managed to get it going on the fuel that was left in it. I ran to the house and told the father-in-law and he was so shocked that I managed to get it going (I am engine technician at JCB so I wasn’t 😝) and that’s when I found out it had been in the workshop under a load of horse rugs for the last ten years or so (I've been down there 11 years and I never knew it was there!). Our plan was to get it starting on the key and sell it. I contacted Allett for parts and that’s when I got in contact with Roy as someone at Allett gave me his number as they said Roy was the man to talk to.
After long discussions with Roy he was sure it was the prototype mower. He told me to take a plate off and that’s when we found out it was the first ever production MK1 mower. I asked the father-in-law where we got it from in the first place and he rang the 'old boy' at the cricket club. He told me it used to be owned by a doctor in Sutton-on-Trent who then gave or sold it to the Sutton-on-Trent cricket club. When that closed down Norwell Cricket Club (who the father-in-law used to play for) bought it and used it for a few years until it broke down one day and they couldn’t use it. They then tried to sell it a few times but with no luck until it ended up down at our place where they tried to sell it again before they gave up and it was just left there until a few years ago! That’s when the old boy from the cricket club brought down the original manuals and the plaque board from the show.
After all this Roy wanted to buy it back but after it had survived all that we (me, father in law, and the cricket club) we decided it was best to donate it back to you!''
The Restoration - Geoff Ravenhall, Redditch
Shortly after we exhibited at SALTEX last year Andrew Hall had an email enquiry from Allett Mowers at Hixon, Staffordshire, asking if he would be interested in restoring the very first Allett Regal motor mower originally built by Reg and Roy Allett back in 1965. Andrew passed on the enquiry to me, and, well, the rest is history as they say!
This was to be quite a challenging project as the mower was remarkably well preserved so a complete strip down and repaint was out of the question. These things are only original once, and if you destroy that originality then it’s history is gone forever; as this will stand in the reception area at the Allett factory it needed to look clean and tidy as well, so a rub down with an oily rag was definitely out of the question.
The cutting cylinder was reground by Cheshire Turf Machinery- Many thanks to Steve Halley.