Bratton was once home to a company that achieved national and international renown, R and J Reeves and Son, famous for the development and manufacture of agricultural implements and machinery.

The business began in a small blacksmiths shop in Stradbrook by blacksmith Thomas Pepler Reeves in 1799, who started a business which he later developed with his two younger sons, Robert and John, producing agricultural machinery such as corn-drills and ploughs.

At the death of Thomas Pepler Reeves in 1849 the flourishing firm had a foundry, paint shop, sawpit and other buildings. The firm, now known as R. & J. Reeves, developed further and its earliest surviving catalogues, from 1853, 1859 and 1863, indicate a wider product range, including ploughs, harrows and water-carts.

Goods were exhibited and won awards at regional and national shows, including a bronze medal in the Great Exhibition of 1861. They also exhibited internationally, winning medals in Paris in 1855 and at the Concours International at Lille in 1863. The 1860s company stationery included the legend ‘Patronised by His Royal Highness Prince Albert’.

In 1864 the company became known as Bratton Iron Works, although 20th century entries in Kelly’s Directory refer again to R. & J. Reeves & Son Ltd.

The Reeves factory dominated the village, providing employment and prosperity in the area, for over 150 years. Reeves machines are now in many historical collections nationwide.