John Blake

Milking machines

Milking machines - John Blake

One early example of New Zealand's farmer/engineer breed was John Blake, of Otakeho Taranaki. He bought one of the earliest milking machines, but quickly realised its limitations. In true kiwi spirit, and thanks to his training as an engineer, he set about improving the machine, redesigning the cups so the cow was milked in a quarter of the time.

Word got around his neighbours what Blake had done, and many asked him to create improved cups for their machines too, which Blake did happily, the extra money supplementing the farm income. However, after only having made a half a dozen sets, the manufacturers of the original machine found out what Blake was doing. Instead of congratulating him on his initiative and purchasing the design from him, they claimed his 'improvement' was an infringement of their patent rights, and forced him not only to purchase back all the cups he'd made for his neighbours, but to cease using the design on his own machine!

Rightly annoyed, Blake took the opportunity to design and create an entire milking machine of his own from scratch, a process he finished in 1907 when he sold his first 'Simplex Milker'.