Land management tools

Land Management

With the rapid progression of technology, man is increasingly having an impact upon the landscape he occupies although this may becoming slightly tempered by our increased awareness of our actions.

This is not a modern phenomenon however. As iron age earthworks testify, man has always left his mark throughout the ages in a whole host of different ways, from specific projects and constructions to the more passive actions of simple survival, whatever we do changes the landscape we live in.

In such a rural area as ours, man’s impact on the landscape is not as obvious or as dramatic as those in urban areas, nevertheless it has, and continues apace. The processes of agriculture which have been a staple of man’s activity for millennia, have shaped the landscape in a myriad of ways, and many other activities associated with his endeavours for survival have also shaped our landscape to that which we occupy today.

Virtually all of the implements which fall under this category are hand powered rather than mechanical and cover the last 150 years or so; activity with similar tools would of course occurred before this although the high level of wear and tear to which the implements were subject dictates that little from before this period survives.


Land Management Collections


A great deal of necessary effort went into the preparation of land, whether for agriculture, occupation or other uses and a large part if this dealt with making sure the areas were well drained and therefore not liable to flooding.

The construction and maintenance of drainage ditches was a laborious and back-breaking business, ably demonstrated by the variety of hand tools we have in the collection for just such tasks.

Ditched were all very well for the edges of fields and trackways, but they could obviously not be used in the middle of such features. Drains in such areas were very necessary, but here pipes were used so that the above ground features were not affected.

Groups of items within this subject include:

Land Drains

A multitude of different styles and sizes of pipes, of differing materials were produced and are represented within the collections. One major contributor being Mr Rees who built up a huge collection during his lifetime which he labelled ‘Tom’s Pipe Dream’.

Hand Implements

Scoops, buckets, forks, knives, spades and Sussex Fly Tools.

Gardening & Smallholding

Somewhat different to agriculture, due to the general size of the operations and the products grown, this group of items differs markedly. Generally of a much smaller size and all hand powered, including drills and hoes.

It is surprising just how widespread these activities were in areas which are now predominantly urban, obviously needing to be close to centres of population to supply local retailers and keep transport to a minimum. For example, large areas of Worthing which are now residential, were open areas of market gardens not all that long ago, and the same is repeated in many other places.

Most of the items we have relating to market gardening and smallholding have come from individual donations, but most are well provenance and are able to give us valuable historical information.

We do have a small number of domestic garden implements within the collection, however this is not an area which we are aiming to expand.

Groups of items within this subject include:

Hand Implements

Hoes, drills, spades, forks, sieves, barrows, rakes, rollers, dibbers and planters, turfing irons and sprayers.

Wood Processing

As timber production was, and to some extent still is, a major aspect of the south east of England, it is not surprising that we should have a large collection of tools and equipment relating to its production and also a number of the crafts associated with it and the woodlands.

Not only are several local estates featured but even their individual forestry workers. The most comprehensive group of items comes from Mr R ‘Dick’ Whittington (via his daughter Mrs Madgwick) who was a forester on Cowdray Estate, which also employed Charlie Luckman who hauled timber with horses and timber carriage until 1943. The Danny Estate at Hassocks, Goodwood, Glynde Estate, Leconfield Estate at Petworth and the Sandgate Estate at Storrington are all represented.

The large collection of barking irons shows how widespread this practice was in our area for supplying the leather tanneries.

Groups of items within this subject include:

  • Axes
  • Long saws

Photo Gallery


1. Land drains, 2. Gardening/smallholding tools, 3. Tree felling, 4. Timber yard, 5. Painting of land management

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