Edwin Beard Budding is credited with inventing the world's first mechanical lawnmower in 1830.
His ingenious design of spirally arranged blades is still used for cutting grass today. Budding worked as a 'mechanic' at various textile mills in the Stroud area. This brought him into contact with the rotary shearing machine used for cutting the surface of cloth. This inspired him to use the same principle for cutting grass.
According to tradition, Budding tested his first grass cutting machine at night to avoid curiosity.
On 18 May 1830, Budding entered into an agreement with John Ferrabee of Phoenix Iron Works, Thrupp. Ferrabee would finance the patenting and manufacturing costs of Budding's invention. The patent was granted on 31 August 1830. The documents are held by Stroud District Museum Service.
Approximately 5,000 mowers were made at Phoenix Iron Works between 1830 and 1863. One of the earliest customers for the new lawnmower was Regent's Park Zoo in London, where in 1831, it was reported to do the work of 6 to 8 men using scythes. J.C. Loudon, in his journal The Gardener's Magazine of February 1832, was quick to praise the new machine. He pointed out another of its advantages, quoting from Budding's own patent:
* Country gentlemen may find in using my machine an amusing, useful and healthy exercise."
In 1832, J.R. Ransome of Ipswich took up a licence to make Budding's machine. Ransome continued to produce them until 1860. Edwin Budding went on to develop the adjustable spanner and a type of pistol.