McConnel was the first company in the world to launch a tractor-mounted hedgecutter and has led the way in innovation throughout its 85-year history as the first to offer parallel arm geometry, hi-reach arm geometry, Variable Forward Reach and hands-free cruise control.
Launched in 1935, the company has grown from a small shed in Martley, Worcestershire to a world-leader in green-maintenance, remote control and cultivation technology.
Key milestones in the company’s history include:
1935 – McConnel formed by Freddie Whigham McConnel. The first products are fruit graders, a mechanised hop-picker and trailers
1948 – A Scottish farmer named Gilmour invents the Mid-Mount Mark I hedgecutter and sells the rights to McConnel to build the machine. The machine revolutionises hedge-cutting offering huge improvements in speed and efficiency against manual cutting
1949 – McConnel’s famous sawbench secures McConnel’s first award for innovation, receiving the Royal Highland Agricultural Society of Scotland’s award for technology. Built in part from military surplus supplies, the machine features wheels from decommissioned Spitfires
1950 – With business booming, the company searches for a new home, moving its entire operation to Temeside Works in Ludlow and marking the start of a 65 year relationship with the town
1952 – Sales of the new sawbench top 10,000 units
1953 - McConnel launches another revolutionary new hedgecutter, the rear-mounted Power Arm Universal with a host of different attachments. It promotes the machine with the slogan: ‘‘makes hedging a quick, one-man, spare-time job.”
1957 – The1957 price list reveals the cost of McConnel’s best-selling products. The Mid-Mount sells for £125 (without an engine), the Model 10 sawbench with a diesel engine and 30 inch blade is available from £315, and the new Power Arm Universal starts at £55
1959 – McConnel’s first front mount hedgecutter is launched. It features a five-foot cutter bar and a 3hp Petter engine
1960s – Expansion of the product range with the launch of slewing diggers, trenchless land drainers, and the new PA5 Power Arm
1965 – McConnel is taken over by the Wolsley Hughes Group
1970s – New products introduced include: the Dragonfly barrier mower, Balepacker, sheep foot trimmer and sugar cane harvester
1974 – Ludlow factory is expanded to 80,000 square feet. Power Arm range expands to 10 different models
Late 1970s – Launch of the Shakaerator, the PA22 – McConnel’s first economy hedge trimmer, the PA44C – a digger, loader and hedger, and PA7 and PA8 digger loaders
1984 - Launch of the Hy-Reach Extra and the Hy-Reach Extra Plus at Smithfield Show. The most powerful models yet built by McConnel. The year also sees the launch of the Ditch King.
First cultivation machines sold behind the Iron Curtain….with Soviet government buying a Shakaerator and a Tillaerator
Late 1980s - Launch of the Swingtrim, 30 are purchased within hours of going on sale.
The 90-series is the most comprehensive ever launched by McConnel with six different models and reach from from 4.2m (13’ 9”) to 5.85m (19’ 2”)
Ditch King wins Royal Agricultural Society of England Certificate of Merit
1990 - Launched in 1990, the new 2000-series includes the PA2080, PA2060, and PA2070. The models featured a rear-mounted mid-cut pack. The PA2070 featured a reach of 6.48m (21’ 3”) significantly bigger than any other McConnel machine at the time
By the autumn of 1990, McConnel offered two series of Power Arms with 10 different models
1991 – The US-based Alamo Group takes over the company. Launch of the Pasturator and Flex-wing mower range
1996 – 5000-Series Power Arms launched. The 7.7m model is the longest reach machine created by McConnel at the time
1998 – McConnel moves into the flail mower market with the launch of the Merlin Xtreme
Early 2000s – McConnel wins the Queen’s Award for Innovation for the Easy Drive System, and the Dr Alban Davies Trophy for the PA55
2005 – McConnel celebrates its 75th anniversary with a visit from the Princess Royal. The company also wins the Burke Trophy
2008 – McConnel launches the Variable Forward Reach arm
2010 – McConnel picks up the Champion of Champions accolade from the Shropshire Star
2011 – Launch of the new Remote Control Range
2014 – Launch of the SEEDAERATOR low-disturbance drill