Forces for Change

No. of Objects: 111

An image of a Women's Land Army uniform in front of a threshing machine.

Examine the pace of change in the countryside

New technologies are forces for change in the countryside. We explore six seminal technologies – from seed drills to artificial fertilisers – through the eyes of people involved in adopting, adapting or rejecting them. Each person’s story reveals how social forces, financial motivation, practicalities and other factors may motivate their choices in new technologies and ways of doing things.

In this gallery you can find our large objects such as the Fordson Tractor and threshing machine. Alongside these, Womens Land Army clothing, livestock portraits, Suttons Seeds display cabinet, an artificial bee inseminator and many other items add a rich visual and material flavour to each story.

Digital labels

The MERL Google Streetview Tour

What can I see


Elite Cow

Forces For Change


Womens Land Army Uniform

Forces For Change



Forces For Change


Watch an archive film

Take a seat and select an archive film to watch on the large screen.

Play the Feed the World touch-screen game

Take on the role of the Minister of Agriculture, responsible for growing crops using technology. Can you feed the population in the most environmentally-friendly way?

Did you know families used to pick hops on holiday?

Hop picking holidays allowed city families to earn money. Pickers were paid with tokens, which were used in local shops or exchanged for wages.

Did you know

...Elizabethan mattresses were used for both childbirth and corpses?

Mattresses, plaited from sedges, were made to support a mother during childbirth or a corpse after death. After use it would have been burned.

Did you know used to sow seeds by fiddle?

Sowing by hand can be slow and inaccurate. Seed drills were developed in the 1800s to sow seeds quickly in a straight line at regular intervals.

Did you know

...Lady Eve Balfour (1898-1990) was one of the earliest organic farmers and co-founded the Soil Association?

Women continue to play a key role in this movement, with organic farms employing significantly more women than chemical farming.

Did you know

...Suttons Seeds invented the seed packet?

The local Reading firm, founded in 1806, popularised paper packets of seeds for gardeners.

Item from the Suttons Sees Ltd. archive collection

Did you know

...villages often used to run their own fire services?

The National Fire Service was only created in 1941.