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Our heritage

The name Hayter has been synonymous with British grass cutting for over half a century.


Born in Bishop’s Stortford on the borders of Essex and Hertfordshire in 1914, Douglas Hayter was educated in the town and on leaving school entered the retail trade.  He found life rather dull and before long joined a touring air circus and spent his time servicing aeroplane engines, a job that left him with a lifelong interest in engineering.

In 1937, after serving an apprenticeship in the building trade, the young Douglas Hayter arrived in Spellbrook and built a five roomed bungalow for himself and his wife. In 1938 he started his own building business.  He erected workshops and sawmills, manufactured his own plant, and invented a top secret device for the War Office.

World War II changed things and on learning that he was in a reserved occupation, Douglas Hayter decided to concentrate on buildings and repairing farm tractors and machinery.

When the war ended, he added the manufacture of cattle yard equipment to the company’s activities.  On discovering that some of his employees had no homes, he decided to build luxury caravans for them from old RAF mobile containers previously used on the Queen Mary.

In 1946, he decided to add some extra factory space at Spellbrook. He borrowed a cutter bar mower from a friend to clear a space for the new building but made slow progress with this work. Soon after, on a visit to the London Science Museum, Douglas Hayter saw a horse-drawn rotary mower that had been invented a hundred years or so earlier. On his return to Spellbrook he added a second hand two-stroke engine to the collection of bits and pieces that he had under his workshop bench.  By the next day, the first Hayter rotary lawnmower, complete with a dustbin lid over the rotor, was ready for use.

The new lawnmower worked quite well and before long, an admiring neighbour asked Mr Hayter to make one for him. From this small beginning, demand for the Spellbrook built mower grew, and soon after the Hayter Motor Scythe went into full production in 1947.  It was a hand-propelled motor mower with a 24” cut made with whatever engine was available at the time.

Ipswich Town Council was one of the first customers to buy a Motor Scythe.  
Further work was done on product developments and a safety stone guard was fitted to the mower deck. When supplies became more readily available towards the end of the 1940s, a four-stroke Villiers horizontal crankshaft engine was used for the already popular Motor Scythe. 

1946 saw Hayter incorporated as a limited company.


In 1950, an Essex Fruit Farmer, already converted to the Hayter Motor Scythe, enquired if it would be possible to make him a wider machine to cut the grass in his orchards.

Hayter produced a 5’ cut rotary orchard lawnmower, belt-driven from a pulley on the power take-off shaft of the famer’s Ferguson tractor. A 6’ cut orchard mower was added in 1953 and 6’6” cut tractor mounted highway mower in 1956.

Following the success of the 24” Motor Scythe, at the 1956 Smithfield Show, Hayter launched the 26” cut self-propelled Hayter Scythe for professional and highway use.

Hayter focused again on the domestic market in 1957 with the introduction of the red and silver Hayterette, a hand-propelled 18” cut mower with a 98cc Villiers engine.

The company developed the advertising slogan “Sooner or later you will buy a Hayter” and in the late 1950’s Mr Hayter set about designing the self-propelled rollerdrive Hayter mowers range, that achieved the picture-book striped finish to the lawn that Hayter is famous for today.

The 1950’s also saw Mr Hayter spending a lot of time overseas on various export drives, visiting Africa, New Zealand, Malaysia and Australia. 

Hayter mowers were for a time assembled in Peter Maritzburg in South Africa and then in Kenya. Over time these assembly plants were closed as it proved more  effective to manufacture in the UK and export complete units.


The 1960’s began with the award of the Royal Warrant for the supply of machinery to HM Queen Elizabeth II - an honour the company still retains to this day.

The early 1960’s saw the company manufacture portable welding equipment, starting as a request from a friend. The Mighty Midget, as it was known was subsequently used in the building of the New London Bridge, the Post Office Tower and the Chiswick Flyover.

Hayter continued to expand and in 1964 acquired Loddon Engineering which made cattleyard equipment in Norfolk. 

In the late 1960’s, the 18” cut hand-propelled Hayter lawnmower was added to the homeowner range, with vacuum action used to convey the clippings into a collecting bag at the rear. The Hayter 30” Condor was also introduced with a 6hp MAG engine and three-speed gearbox. Its cutting cylinder could be replaced with a twin-bladed rotary mower deck. The 16” and 20” Ambassador cylinder mowers also appeared on the scene in 1966.

In 1967, a new 25,000sq ft warehouse was completed at Spellbrook.

1968 saw the introduction of the Hayter Boot Groom. A total of 411 were produced and sold to sporting clubs enabling players to clean their boots after a match prior to going inside.

By the end of the 1960’s, Hayter had established a network of 38 international distributors selling products into 110 different countries.


The early 1970’s saw the launch of many highly successful, innovative mowing products for both homeowners and commercial users. These included the Hawk and Hawk Major specifically designed to mow grass around gravestones. 
The Harrier rear roller rotary lawnmower was launched along with a number of other products, all named after birds of prey.

Many Hayter products were designed to enable the company to be as self sufficient as possible. These products included a mobile cement mixer and a container lift. The Hayter Container Lift, designed and built by Mr Hayter himself, lifted containers off lorries, allowing them to be filled with products and spare parts while the vehicles were out on the road. This improved efficiency and customer service levels.

The Bank Rider, introduced in 1974 for sloping grass surfaces, was the first Hayter ride-on mower. It was one of the first rotary mowers with a hydraulic motor drive to the cutting deck and the offset operator’s seat could be swivelled so that it remained level when driving across a sloping surface. 

Ride-on and pedestrian controlled versions of the 36” cut Hayter Frigate replaced the Bank Rider in 1976 and the 53” cut Eagle was added in 1978.

Other new products included the Hayter Senator 26” and 30” hydrostatic drive cylinder mowers and 20” cut Ambassador 3 with five and ten blade cylinders where a  Briggs & Stratton Quantum engine replaced the earlier model.

At the end of the decade, the Hayterette received the BAGMA award for the best horticultural machine of the year.


The 1980’s began with more good news - the Harrier rear roller lawnmower followed on from the Hayterette winning the prestigious BAGMA award for the second time.

The hand propelled 16” Hayter Hobby complete with plastic grass box appeared in 1982, designed for small and medium sized lawns. Self propelled and mains-electric versions of the Hobby were added in 1985.

1985 was a big year for Hayter, seeing the change of logo and colour scheme to today’s familiar dark green and black. This was also the year that Mr Hayter sold the business to F H Tomkins, a financial holding company.

In 1987, F.H. Tomkins acquired Beaver Equipment Limited, a manufacturer of commercial groundcare products based in West Sussex, who primarily supplied products to local authorities and golf courses.

Three years later in 1988, F H Tomkins acquired the Murray Ohio Manufacturing Co - the world’s largest mower manufacturer at the time. The change of ownership resulted in Murray rotary lawnmowers, including rear-engine ride-on mower and an 18hp garden tractor being added to the Hayter range.


Significant investment was made in the Hayter business during the 1990's. The manufacturing facility was completely modernised and new products were introduced on a regular basis.

Hayter focused on the expansion of the commercial groundcare business by introducing a significant range of ride-on cylinder mowers and tractor pulled machines throughout the 90’s. 

This expansion resulted in Hayter building a market share in excess of 40% in local authority mowing equipment.

Hayter celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 1996 with a celebration at The Ironmongers Hall, London for all its dealers. In the same year, Hayter received an award from engine manufacturer Briggs and Stratton for supplying one million mowers fitted with their engines.

In 1998, garden machinery dealers throughout the entire UK voted the Hayter Harrier 48 the product of the decade.