Patrick Bell, British inventor of the first efficient reaping machine, c 1850-1869.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Bell (1799-1869) designed one of the first practical reaping machines. His design incorporated features that are still seen on modern combine harvesters. The reaper was designed to be propelled by a single horse but this was found to be inadequate; it was modified so that two horses were used behind it. Bell and Cyrus McCormick both put reaping machines into the Great Exhibition (1851) and this helped to encourage the widespread acceptance of mechanised reaping in England.