The Jones Baler Story

Tales from Wales: The story of David and Glynne Jones, who formed Wales’ most famous equipment company, Jones Baler Co.

| March 2012

Jones is one of the most popular surnames in Wales, and it also happens to be the name of a well-known Welsh firm of agricultural implement makers, namely Jones Balers Ltd. As the name suggests, balers were the company’s main line, but it did produce other farm implements too, such as muck spreaders, loaders, roller mills, hay tedders and even combine harvesters, though it is through balers that the company gained worldwide recognition. Jones balers went all over Europe and as far as Australia, and it is said that even Her Royal Highness the Queen bought and used a Jones baler.

Modern machines for modern farmers

In the late 1930s, it is fair to say that Britain had one foot firmly in the past. We were a poor nation, and many farmers were still dependent on horse power. However, we knew full well that mechanization was here to stay and that there was no doubt that it was the way forward. The world was changing and everyone was looking for labour-saving devices, and not just in agriculture, but in the home too.

Two enterprising brothers, David and Glynne Jones, decided that the time was right to set themselves up in business designing state-of-the-art farm implements. David and Glynne were the sons of tenant farmers who had lost their land, which meant that they had to take whatever agricultural work they could to keep the wolf from the door, so to speak. Starting at the very bottom rung with manual work like ditch digging, they managed to climb the ladder until they were successful small-time agricultural contractors. By having to make, mend and adapt machines, the Jones brothers became self-taught engineers.

Seeing the failings in machinery they worked with, they began to design and build their own. Those first few machines that the brothers made were built outside, as they had no facilities of their own. Neither did they have any real capital, which meant that they had to sell their first machine in order to finance the second one, and that’s how the operation continued until they were able to get some money behind them. Another pressure that Jones faced in the early years was a lack of available raw materials. During and just after World War II steel was in short supply, and the company’s output was often restricted by difficulties in sourcing essential materials.

A winning formula

The brothers were lucky enough to fall in with George Williams, a brilliant engineer who had worked as a blacksmith at a nearby mine in North Wales. Having worked as farm contractors, the brothers were full of plans of how best to maximize agricultural productivity, and with George Williams’ skills they were able to put those ideas into reality. Jones Balers Ltd. soon took over an old lead works in Rhosesmor, North Wales, not far from the brothers’ home, and the first project that they really became known for was the manufacture of the Tiger stationary baler in 1942. Like most large farm implements of the era, the Tiger was aimed at farm contractors rather than private landowners. Later, in a bid to sell to farmers themselves, Jones brought out the Cub, a smaller and more affordable version of the Tiger.

Bales produced by these early balers were tied manually, which meant that the baler was little more than a packing machine. However, improvements were very soon made, and with the advent of the Panther, Jones took a big step forward. The Panther was a large self-tying baler. It was designed to sit next to a haystack and have the hay forked onto the large pick-up area, or better still to sit behind a threshing machine and bale the straw as it fell from the threshing box. The fact that it could be powered by the threshing machine meant that one tractor, or traction engine, could power both the threshing machine and the baler.