Scope and Content

Consists of threshing ledgers 1879-1926; Dunstable threshing ledger 1911-1929; Redbourn threshing register 1927-1928; threshing contracts and manures accounts 1888-1913; threshing contracts ledger 1913-1925; implement sales ledger 1896-1927; sales ledger 1922-1932; Houghton registration sales ledger 1922-1926; bought ledger 1915-1933; day book of repairs 1936-1944; invoices n.d.[1888-1960's]; advertising and servicing publications for various firms including Bamfords Ltd, Beatty Bros Ltd, E H Bentall and Co Ltd, David Brown Tractors Ltd, Gebr Claas Maschinenfabrik GMBH, Harry Ferguson Ltd, Fisons Pest Control Ltd, John Fowler and Co (Leeds) Ltd, Marshall, Sons and Co Ltd, Martin's Cultivator Co Ltd, Massey Ferguson Ltd, Pest Control Ltd, Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies Ltd, Taskers of Andover 1937-1960's

Administrative / Biographical History

The business was established by James Oliver in 1853. It was first located at 72 Park Street, Luton; in 1880 it transferred to Wigmore Hall, outside the town; and before the turn of the century, to the Wandon End Works. James Oliver was succeeded by his two sons who formed a partnership. Walter left in the 1880s, leaving Archibald and his two sons to run the firm. It became A.T. Oliver and Sons Ltd. in the 1890's. A.T. Oliver retired in 1926, and his grandsons joined the business in the 1930s. In 1951, on the death of P.J. Oliver, a limited company was set up, and the Board has been chaired by a member of the family since then.

The business started with the hiring out of men and machines for steam ploughing, harvesting and threshing; the threshing contracting was particularly important. By the 1890s it was usual for as many as 30 to 32 sets of tackle to be on the road in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire at the same time. James Oliver patented a chaff bagging apparatus and sold the rights to Marshalls of Gainsborough. Thereafter until the last war the contracting business expanded, and the manufacturing and dealing side was dropped. In the 1920s and 30s Olivers also tendered Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire County Councils, Luton Corporation and the L.N.E.R. for steam roller contracting. All contracting was cut out after 1945, and since then the business has mainly been involved with selling and servicing agricultural machinery, and supplying parts.


  • TR OLV/AC1 1-13 Threshing Ledgers
  • TR OLV/AC1 14-22 Implement Sales Ledgers
  • TR OLV/AC1 23-26 Sales Ledgers
  • TR OLV/AC1 27-33 Bought Ledgers
  • TR OLV/AC3 1 Daybook
  • TR OLV/AC9 1 Invoice Forms
  • TR OLV/P2/B 1-173 Individual Advertising and Servicing Publications, various firms

Access Information

Available for consultation

Acquisition Information

Deposited in 1971


Compiled by Zoe Watson, March 2004

Other Finding Aids

A detailed catalogue is available at the Museum of English Rural Life

Conditions Governing Use

Please contact the Archivist

Geographical Names