Celebrating South Australia


17 April 1840 John Ridley

 17 April 1840   John Ridley

John Ridley arrived in South Australia on 17 April 1840 bringing with him a steam-mill. He built a flour mill at Hindmarsh and the first wheat harvested in the colony was ground into flour with his mill.

In 1843 he developed an invention by J.W. Bull, building it up into the first stripper which stripped the ears of the standing wheat and threshed it. In one week late in the year he reaped 70 acres of wheat near Wayville at a cost of 5s per acre. With the help of John Dunn and John Stokes Bagshaw the machine was perfected in 1844 and in 1845 seven more were built.

By 1850 James Martin was involved in building the machines and 50 were operating in South Australia or had been exported to other colonies. The invention was never patented, but was the forerunner of the modern harvester.

Ridley returned to England in 1853 and died there in 1887. The Ridley Gates at the Showground are his memorial in South Australia.

D.A. Cumming, G. Moxham, They Built South Australia, Adelaide, 1986, p.160.