Teaching Treasures

bear drawing Robert Bowyer Smith heading

In 1876, a South Australian farmer had an idea while ploughing his field. It was rough

and stumpy and because of that, a bolt on his plough broke. He continued ploughing. After a

while he discovered that it was a lot easier to plough with the bolt gone and the plough simply

rode over obstacles such as rocks and roots. Robert Smith went to work and invented his

new plough. Much time and money had gone into the invention, but when he took it to the

Moonta Agricultural Show in South Australia, farmers did not like Smith's invention.

They thought that the land needed to be cleared first and others said that it would not plough

deep enough. However Smith took out a twelve month patent. This meant his

invention would be secure from others who wanted to copy it. Farmers in other

colonies had heard about the stump jump plough and finally saw the benefits of it.

Unfortunately after the twelve months expired Smith had spent so much time and money on

improving his plough that he was left with no money to renew the patent, and nothing stopped

others from developing his plough and selling it.

In 1882 the poverty-stricken, Robert Smith received a reward for all his efforts from the South

Australian Government. He was given money, a gold medal and land. This encouraged him

and he joined with his brother Clarence in developing a new and better stump jump plough.

Robert Smith eventually moved to Western Australia where he set up a factory to manufacture

the ploughs. The stump jump plough became famous all over Australia as well as overseas.

Robert Bowyer Smith died in Perth in 1919.

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