Cooch & Sons Ltd.
The firm of Cooch was established in 1800, when Joshua Cooch invented and patented a corn and seed dressing machine, patent no. 2416, 1800 (17 Jun). He was succeeded by his son Joshua Cooch in 1828, who improved upon the original dressing machine design and in 1848(10 Aug) patented a sackholder which the firm then began to produce. Four first prizes at R.A.S.E. shows in 1841, 1847, 1863 and 1872, helped further establish the dressing machine’s reputation, and until the early 1870’s a barley hummeller was also in production.
Joshua Cooch died c.1875 only to be succeeded by his son Henry Cooch, who was instrumental in developing the emphasis on manufacturing. In 1880 the Harlestone farm was reduced to only 50 acres and 1885 saw the introduction of the first in a long line of Cooch potato sorters, one of the first known attempts to mechanise this process. Further expansion occurred in 1891 when Henry Cooch purchased James Mold’s cart and wagon building business and premises in Commercial St., Northampton, though retaining the Harlestone premises for implement work.
By 1900 the firm could also boast a steam saw mill in Weston St., Northampton and in 1906 a partnership between Henry Cooch and John Frank Cooch was formed, styled Cooch & Son. Originally the wagon side of the business seems to have been of greater importance than implement work, but the latter gradually took prominence. Various technical improvements helped make potato sorter manufacture the backbone of the firm, especially with the decline of dressing machine sales, until a slight post World War Two recovery.
From the 1920’s onwards a variety of screening machines were produced and the post war years saw the introduction of vegetable washers, potato planters, onion toppers and crop dusters. The Commercial St. Works were extended in 1940, helping run down operations at Harlestone and from the late 1940’s onwards a gradual move occurred to a new site at Buttocks Booth on the Kettering Rd. to the north east of Northampton. The limited company Cooch & Sons Ltd., with John Frank Cooch and his two sons John Henry Cooch and Donald Frank Cooch as directors, was formed in 1949, which lasted until 1974 when after some 174 years production finally ceased with the sale of rights of manufacture to William Cook (Engineers) Ltd., Yaxley, Peterborough. The Cooch business interests, however, still continue, restyled as Cooch Bros. (Northampton) Ltd., under John Henry Cooch and Donald Frank Cooch.
Styles of the Firm
1800 John Cooch
1828 Joshua Cooch
c.1875 Henry Cooch
1906 Cooch & Son
1949 Cooch & Sons Ltd.
1974 Cooch Bros. (Northampton) Ltd.
The Cooch records cover the considerable range of 1800-1971, of particular importance when very few English agricultural engineering firms appear to have kept pre-1850 material, apart from exceptions such as Ransomes of Ipswich. Although the records have a bias towards accounting and publicity material, they nevertheless provide a great deal of information about the firm’s activities. The records include financial, administrative and technical records, as well as photographs and publicity material.