Engineering Heritage Marker - Ridley StripperPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Stephen Warren

The Engineering Heritage Marker recognises the Ridley Stripper as of engineering historical significance.

In the 1840s the harvesting of crops was a labour intensive task. The shortage of labour in South Australia led to the invention of a stripper harvester that mechanised the reaping of wheat by flour miller, John Ridley, in 1843. The Ridley Stripper won an Agricultural and Horticultural Society prize the following year. Ridley's machine consisted of a comb that lifted the wheat heads which were then removed by the rotating beaters which sat behind the comb. The heads went directly into a storage box at the back of the machine and the grain and chaff were separated later.

The Ridley stripper saved farmers the labourious task of harvesting the wheat by hand. The stripper was horse-drawn, so allowed quicker and more efficient harvesting.There was a lengthy debate about the invention of the stripper harvester a farmer, John Wrathall Bull, claimed that he had invented the stripper. Bull is said to have exhibited his stripper in a contest for the best wheat harvesting machine in September 1843 and Ridley did not demonstrate his machine until a month or two later. Despite Bull's claims, Ridley is generally credited with inventing the first stripper harvester.

The Institution of Engineers Australia, through its Heritage Committees, established the Australian Historic Engineering Plaquing Program to acknowledge past engineering achievements and to draw public attention to the significant contributions they have made to society.The Plaquing Program is a means of bringing public recognition to significant historic engineering works and the engineers who created them. The Program is intended to contribute to the conservation of Australian engineering heritage.


Address:Adam & Mantone Streets, Hindmarsh, 5007
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -34.909485
Long: 138.573362
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:Technology


Front Inscription

The Ridley Stripper

The First Mechanical Grain Harvesters were built just across the road

The first settlers were soon raising good crops of wheat on farms around Adelaide. But when it came to harvesting, there were not enough people to do the work.  In 1843, flour miller John Ridley built a horse-drawn machine which could not only reap the crop but thresh it as well.  Within a few years, dozens of these machines had been built by Ridley and others.  They helped make South Australia the major wheat-producing Colony.   Ridley`s invention led to the development of the modern combine harvester.

How it worked 

The Stripper was pushed through the ripe crop.  The collecting prongs guided the heads into the Stripper and the beaters, rotating at about 600 rpm, knocked the grain loose and threw it up into the collector box.  Only crops which were ripe and dry could be harvested in this way but that suited South Australian conditions.

John Dunn worked with Ridley to develop and build the machines; later he was a flour miller at Mount Barker

Walter Paterson was one of the first to use the Stripper and introduced several important improvements

Recognition of Ridley
Other than selling machines himself, Ridley sought no reward from his invention.  The suburb of Ridleyton and the electoral district of Ridley are named after him.  In 1933 the Ridley Memorial Gates at the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society`s showgrounds were erected in his honour.

John Ridley was one of the early immigrants to South Australia, arriving in 1840.  He bought land at Hindmarsh and set up a flour mill, grinding the Colony`s first wheat in November 1840.  Ridley also invested in farming land and was a a shareholder in the Burra copper mine.  He went back to England in 1853 and died in London in 1887.

Engineers Australia South Australian Division - City of Charles Sturt


Left Side Inscription


Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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