MP019: Ransomes Lion

The Ransomes Lion was a pretty example of a sidewheel mower. This image shows the 11" model but 9", 13" and 15" were also available.

The Lion was a popular sidewheel mower made by Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies in the early part of the 20th century until the 1930s.

It was available in four sizes including 9, 11, 13, and 15-inch cutting widths. Priced ranged in 1915, for example, from £1.6.0d to £1.12.0d.

Like all sidewheel mowers of the period, the basic Lion model simply ejected the grass clippings to the rear of the machine on to the lawn. These could either then be left to decompose back into the turf or swept up after the mowing was completed.

A grass box was available for use with The Lion but for an additional few shillings on the price. A special attachment known as the "forward delivery plate" or "forward deflector plate" was also required. This was a simple weighted device  that slotted on to the chassis, often on to the roller mountings, between the two wheels and then deflected the grass forwards into the box that was slung off the cross brace at the front of the mower.

The Lion was also available with an extra long wooden handle to allow the user to mow grass on banks and slopes. The operator stood at the top of the bank or slope and simply moved the mower using the long handle.

The Lion could be supplied with an extra-long handle so that it could be used to cut the grass on banks and slopes more easily.

One of the major drawbacks of the sidewheel design was that the mower could not be used up close to a wall (because one of the wheels would get in the way) or at the edge of the lawn (because the mower would drop off the edge and stop working).

However, another optional extra attachment known as Slatter's Patent Front Runner got round the second of these problems. Mounted on the front crass brace the Front Runner provided support for the mower when one of the side wheels was overhanging the edge of the lawn. This meant that the mower could be used to cut grass right up to the edge of the lawn. It was not, however, a solution to the problem of cutting up close to a wall or raised border.

Slatter's Front Runner allowed mowers such as The Lion to be used right up to the edge of the lawn.

Ransomes continued its feline theme of mower names with sidewheel models such as the Leo, Lioness and Cub that followed The Lion in the 20th century.

The Lion is a pretty example of a sidewheel mower. It is not particularly rare and many collectors have them in their collections. However, 15" examples are relatively unusual because at this cutting width other types of mower were probably easier to use or could work faster.