Henry Peacock & John Binnington started their agricultural engineering business in 1894, the same year that the Manchester Ship Canal, Tower Bridge and the Blackpool Tower were all opened.
They opened up in Hull at 11-15 West Street, in 1894, as agricultural engineers and implement agents. Their first year of trading must have been very difficult, the winter was so severe the River Trent froze over solid enough for horse drawn wagons to cross it. But with Henry Peacock’s engineering experience and foresight, and John Binnington’s financial backing, the fledgling firm established itself and was soon looking to expand.
Two years later, in 1896, Henry Peacock visited Brigg market and realised the even greater potential in Lincolnshire and opened up a new depot at the Old Foundry, where the company still operates from today. Pictured above is The original Peacock & Binnington showroom at the Old Foundry, Brigg.
The firm’s first appearance at the Lincolnshire Show was in 1898, where they displayed binders by MasseyHarris, Deering and Plano, Ransome cultivators and digging ploughs. They later manufactured many implements themselves. By 1900 they were exhibiting a wider range of machinery and implements at national shows such as Smithfield and the Royal Show.
Below is a photo of the Peacock & Binnington stand from the 1905 Yorkshire Show.
Henry Peacock also ensured his company had a dominant presence at the Brigg market every week and towed a bright red wooden hut to the Market Place, to use as a display area and a meeting place for customers with sales and deals frequently taking place!
Expansion into Lincolnshire started with a flourishing branch established at Laceby in 1929. Having survived the tough times of the depressions of the twenties and thirties, just as agriculture was beginning an upturn, along came the 2nd World War, with all the restrictions on the supply of machinery imposed by the War Agricultural Committee. Labour was in short supply and two salesmen, Ben Benstead, who had joined the company in the late 1920’s, and George Bradshaw who started in 1937, initially only on a 7 day trial, had to look after all the tractor and machinery sales and repairs, whilst Allen Peacock (Henry’s son) dealt with the administration and official form filling for the Ministry. All the binders and combines were delivered in pieces in crates to Brigg Station, at that time, and George and Ben became highly proficient, resembling an automated production line, capable of building 11/4 binders a day and one combine every 2 days.
The ‘production line’ at Brigg station is pictured below
In 1952 P&B opened a third branch in Market Rasen and expanded it further in 1968 when they took over the Malt Kiln across the road and were able to expand the workshop considerably. And it was largely redeveloped to provide purpose built facilities in 1975.
Brigg was also expanding at this time with a combine repair shop added in 1958, and in 1968 there was more major rebuilding, with a new parts store, then a new repair and assembly shop and lastly new general offices. The order of this redevelopment reflects the priorities of ‘service before sales’.
Peacock & Binnington had a long term relationship with Massey Harris and were given the Massey-Harris 50 year service award in 1953 and in 1958 were appointed as North Lincolnshire distributors for the newly formed Massey Ferguson Company. This successful association continues today.
Peacock & Binnington’s continued expansion could be largely attributed to Michael Peacock, Allen’s son, who joined the company in 1957, after the usual 2 years at Ransommes followed by an engineering degree at Cambridge. He started in the stores followed by spells in the workshop and offices. Michael explained, “Our farming customers expect you to know everything about the business and I knew nothing to start with.”
He was then put in charge of the Laceby depot, where business increased quickly and new premises had to be built. John Jones, who had joined the company as an apprentice, was made Service Manager at Laceby and developed the business from 3 staff to over 20, and became a director.
In the late 60’s Michael took charge at Market Rasen and oversaw the developments there. Then in 1970 they took over the Louth firm of Greenacres and built up the business steadily until it too needed new buildings in 1980 and has continued to grow since.
Developments of new depots continued to meet their growing customer base. The branch at Corringham, near Gainsborough, was opened in 1987 and a parts depot at Hatfield near Doncaster, in 1993. As dealership territories changed, the Laceby depot was closed in 1989, followed by the Market Rasen depot a few years later, but their customers were looked after by other expanded branches. P&B’s commitment to Yorkshire farmers was increased more recently with the opening of a full sales and service branch at Selby in 2007 to replace the Hatfield depot.
Derek Blow, another lifelong employee at Peacock & Binnington, started out as an apprentice at Laceby, eventually became Branch Manager at Louth and ultimately Managing Director of the whole company based at Brigg, before retiring in 2011. He was followed by the current MD, Graham Main, who took over in 2010, and is determined to balance and maintain P&B’s sound engineering values and customer support, whilst embracing the changes required in the modern business world.
Michael Peacock continues as Chairman to this day, and is still actively involved in the company created by his grandfather over a century ago. That company has grown to one employing over 80 staff in total. Despite all the changes, both in agriculture and in the P&B business overall, Peacock & Binnington today still remains a business that is committed to both its customers and it’s own people.