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Glenbuchat Heritage

117 James William Barclay Agricultural Improver
The Glenbuchat Image Library
117 James William Barclay Agricultural Improver

James Barclay Involvement in Agriculture

Barclay's Cultivator.

This implement was exhibited by George Sellar & Son, Huntly, and invented by James W. Barclay, M.P., and was tried at Mr Monteith's farm, Liberton Tower Mains, on the 15th and 16th November.
The objects sought to be accomplished by the digger are in the case of stubble land to open and pulverise the soil more effectually to the depth required; to cut the roots of thistles and other deep-rooted weeds; to turn over the upper two or three inches of the soil so as to cover the stubble, expose the roots of weeds to the winter's frost, and to bring up and mix a portion of the subsoil with the upper mould. The effects to be produced are thus a combination of the work of the plough and the cultivator. In the case of green crop land for a seed furrow the objects are to stir and pulverise the earth, without exposing the dung or leaving the soil so open as after the ordinary plough, and in the case of both stubble and clean land, to avoid the packing of the subsoil and consequent separation from the upper soil caused by the horses' feet on the furrow and by the sole of the plough. The digger was first tried in a stubble field, making two furrows nine inches deep. The average draught was about 6 cwt. The Committee recommended the Directors to award the silver medal. The Board approved of the award.


James Barclay was also actively involved with Agricultural research and development

The Agricultural Research Association, the Development Fund, and the Origins of the
Rowett Research Institute
By David Smith
The Aberdeen Agricultural Association, later renamed the Agricultural Research Association, was established in 1875. Relying upon donations from landowners, the Association set up an experimental station and laboratory, and for a few years ran an experimental farm. From the beginning, the organization challenged the views of agricultural scientists in England. Thomas Jamieson, the Association's chemist, demonstrated that insoluble phosphate was a more useful fertiliser than had been supposed, and later claimed to have shown that green plants could fix atmospheric nitrogen. This lead to a bruising conflict with the director of Rothamsted Experimental Station. In the I9IO’s the Association's work ceased after it failed to secure a grant from the newly-formed Development Commission. In contrast, a joint committee of the North of Scotland College of Agriculture and Aberdeen University obtained Development Commission funds for an animal nutrition laboratory, and in I914 appointed John Boyd On:, a Glasgow medical graduate, as research worker. Orr proved much more effective than Jamieson, both in building and using alliances with members of the agricultural science establishment in England, and in obtaining private funds, leading to the official opening of the Rowett Research Institute, of which Orr was designated director, in 1922.
The formation of the Association was largely the initiative of James W Barclay, MP for Forfarshire since 1872. Barclay was initially a Liberal and later a Unionist. Local self-made chemist Thomas Jamieson, lecturer in chemistry at the Mechanics Institution in Aberdeen, was employed to direct the Association's experiments. In about 1878 Jamieson became city analyst for Aberdeen 6 and from 1879 vigorously applied himself to the development of agricultural education at Aberdeen University as Fordyce Lecturer in agricultural science 1872. 5 Barclay was initially a Liberal and later a Unionist. Local self-made chemist Thomas Jamieson, lecturer in chemistry at the Mechanics Institution in Aberdeen, was employed to direct the Association's experiments. In about 1878 Jamieson became city analyst for Aberdeen 6 and from 1879 vigorously applied himself to the development of agricultural education at Aberdeen University as Fordyce Lecturer in agricultural science/

Barclays Parliamentary involvement in land improvement

1. Improvement of land. Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords. Proceedings, minutes of evidence and appendix, 1873.
Vol. XVI, xxiii, 453p. (Sessional no. 326)
Brought from the Lords, 18th July, 1873. Chairman: Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne Cecil, Marquess of Salisbury.
"to inquire into the facilities afforded by the existing law to limited owners of land for the investment of capital in the improvement of such land, and to report whether any alteration of the law is requisite in order further to encourage such investment ..."
Land could be improved by drainage or by planting trees and improved accommodation acted as an inducement to labourers not to leave the country. With the increased cost of drainage and building operations, it often became necessary to secure loans. Improvement loans could he obtained through the sanction of the Court of Session or the Inclosure Commission. The Inclosure Commissioners, however, often required unduly expensive cottages and farm buildings. James William Barclay, M.P., a farmer in Aberdeenshire (pp. 307-330) complained about this, saying "the houses of the Inclosure Commissioners are rather what I should consider suitable for the next generation than for the present one." The Commissioners insisted that each labourer's cottage should have a sink and there should be no bed in the living room. There was a general feeling in Aberdeenshire that the process of obtaining improvement loans through the sanction of the Court of Session or the Inclosure Commission involved too much difficulty and expense. Mr. Barclay thought it preferable that a large number of cottages should be built rather than a small number of superior quality.

From the Book of Glrnbuchat

“James Barclay, who purchased Glenbuchat in 1901, was to rid the Glen of these primitive dwellings. When he called at Tullochcarroch he found water running out by the front door and was astonished to discover that this seemed normal. At nearby Tarantoul, the roof had fallen in and the tenant was living with relatives on a neighbouring farm. There were according to Barclay as many as ten to twenty five ‘fire houses’ in a clachan, built of stone lime and clay and with thatched roofs. Peat burned in open fires with large hearths and chimneys sometimes 10 feet wide. The floors were of earth or clay, beaten hard but full of moisture, and the sloping roof gave the impression of the inside of an inverted ship.”


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