Most local lads went to work on the farm when they left school at the age of 12 to 14. Here agricultural workers at St. John's Farm, Soham Fen, take a break and pose for this early photograph beside the old engine believed to be T5 in the early 1900’s.
The manufacture of windmills from early times had been a craft passed down to apprentices, and was so well practised, that the mills were made to specifications without drawings or blueprint. The Fyson family still have several drawings of the mills made by the family firm in the early days, which were kept as a pictorial record of their work.
The business was originally called ‘Richard Fyson’, this being altered to ‘CJR Fyson’ by the founder’s son 'Charles John Richard Fyson', who later added the ‘& Son when his son 'Richard Wallis Fyson' took over. Mr CJR Fyson built a number of traction engines as well as threshing machinery, and developed the foundry for making iron castings.
The foundry enabled the business to develop their own products at close quarters, and being on site reduced production and transport costs. It operated successfully for many years but was gradually superseded by more modern processes. The first welding machinery at Fyson’s was steam driven and said to be amongst the earliest use of this technology in the district. The foundry was finally closed when an electric welding plant was introduced by RW Fyson.
During the time of CJR Fyson and RW Fyson, there was a strong tendency, typical of engineering firms in East Anglia, to carry on jobbing work of a varied nature. Manufacturers such as Fyson’s produced thousands of small agricultural implements and tools as a sideline to their main business. Fysons were producing elevators by 1916 for use with threshing drums - the Hayes patent elevators were technologically advanced for the time. By 1921, Fysons were looking at the use of farm tractors.
Production on this small scale continued for only a short period after the close of World War II. Higher living standards and changing ways of life demanded improved efficiency and profitability. Industrial specialisation became essential.
Ever aware of the need to keep up with the times, Fyson’s moved forward. After the demise of the steam engine, and the introduction of diesel engines, there were new challenges to meet.
Conveyors had originally been part of the gear on the early steam driven threshing machinery. Developing this piece of rustic technology and marketing it as modern loading equipment made Fyson’s the name we remember today.