Duration: 73 minutes 2 seconds
It’s the 23rd of March 2017 and this is an interview with Mrs Christine Broom at her home in Eastview Farm and Lisa Kerley is conducting the interview.
Lisa: Hello Christine, thank you for having me.
Christine: Hello Lisa, that’s all right.
Lisa: Could we start the interview by you telling me your full name?
Christine: My full name is Christine Mary Audrey Broom.
Lisa: And is Broom your married name?
Christine: Yes, it is.
Lisa: And you maiden name was …
Christine: My maiden name was Whetter [she spells it], which is actually a Cornish surname.
Lisa: So I’ve come today to talk to you about memories of farming. Can you tell me your sort of first … you said that you always had it … you think you’ve got it in your blood, this yearning to be working the land. When did you have these sort of feelings first of all?
Christine: Yes. When I was about two years old and I was born in the middle of Sandown in a tiny cottage and people would say to me when I was a child, “What do you want to do when you grow up little girl?” and I would say, “I’m going to be a farmer” and they would laugh. However, my father’s family were farmers in Cornwall and he’d come here in the War with the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, met my mother who was a Sandown girl and they got married, so on my father’s side they were farming and I knew that my Great Grandfather was a farmer on the Island with a surname of Morris, which is a very common Island surname, so on both sides of my family, it was always in my blood and that’s all I ever wanted to do.
Lisa: So what are your first memories of actually sort of being on a farm or being in the countryside?
Christine: Um, from the age of … I’ve got very good memory from when I was a child even remembering when I was in my high pram before I was one year old but I do remember when I was two to three, every year going to Cornwall on the steam train from Sandown to Ryde Pier, paddle boat to Portsmouth and then train all the way to Lostwithiel in Cornwall which took all day and then being taken by somebody’s friendly neighbour’s car to my father’s farm where I absolutely … well I idolised the place. Went for two weeks every year and couldn’t wait to go back the next year and from the age of five, I learnt to hand milk, I would help feed the chicken, feed the pigs, anything on the farm. They were self-sufficient, really just like ‘The Good Life’. There was very little they bought, they lived off the land and that’s really how it started. When I was 12, our local Milkman who had a small farm at Yaverland called ‘Elmstead Dairy’ which doesn’t exist anymore. My mother was saying, “Oh my daughter wants to go farming.” My mother was very much against it because I was at the Grammar School and was considered to be fairly brainy and she thought it was a waste of my education to go farming, but she told the Milkman and he asked if I would like to go and work for him on Saturday and Sunday. So that’s what I did and I used to earn a shilling a day on Saturday and a shilling a day on Sunday from 6 am to 6 pm, so I worked 12 hours for one shilling, which is five pence in today’s terms and because I probably made a good job of it, he then asked if I could go on a Thursday afternoon. Well I was at the Grammar School and of course you were not allowed time off. However, I went to see the Headmaster who was quite strict, and I explained it all to him and he said, “Well what do you do on a Thursday afternoon at school?” and I said, “Well I either do Sport or Religious Education” both of which I hated, so he allowed me, it was absolutely unheard of to have Thursday afternoon off. So I also worked Thursday afternoon for which I got six pence, so that’s my first days and we had Channel Island cows so I learnt to milk there by machine. We hand bottled all the milk and they had a little milk round and I used to help rear the calves and clean the pens out and help with the hay making and I was just 12, so that was sort of the first thing I did that got me really convinced that I wanted to be farming.
Lisa: So you said that they had milking machines then?
Lisa: And can you describe them to me?
Christine: Um, well instead of obviously hand milking, you milk it straight into a bucket, they were quite antiquated. They were shaped like a round metal container with four rubber suction cups that went on the cow’s teats, and the milk emptied down into these … they looked sort of like a curling stone. People that go curling, those large round … that was made of aluminium. Of course later on in life, the machines developed into different shapes and more modern, and then eventually came along pipe lines and parlours rather than cow stables where you tied the cows up with a chain, so yeah, they were just the first milking machines. Obviously I had to learn to use those ‘cos I’d only known how to hand milk before.
5 minutes 26 seconds
Lisa: How much did that increase the amount, or reduce the time that it took to milk the cows?
Christine: Probably reduced the time by about a half I would think although if you were a good hand milker, you could milk a cow reasonably quickly but yeah, it was labour saving really. And obviously more hygienic because the milk went straight into a closed container instead of into a bucket when sometimes the cow may pick her leg up and kick the bucket, or a bit of straw or something would fall in the milk. And then we would carry the milk from the machines out into the Dairy and put it into a big … a ‘D’ shaped pan and it would trickle down a cooling system and then at the bottom you’d hold each glass bottle and each bottle would be filled one at a time and then you would cap them with the cardboard caps they used to have round ones with the little centre that you would push your thumb in to extract the top when you were using it in a home. So, yes it was a more modern way of doing it, but of course things moved on at lot after that.
Lisa: So how many cows were there to milk?
Christine: Not many, he didn’t have a very big herd, about 20. Yes, it was only a small farm and he probably only existed because he retailed the milk. Him and his wife actually had a round and went from door to door with regular customers selling the milk.
Lisa: So the milk wasn’t collected?
Christine: No, they actually sold it. Most people, would yes have it collected by a lorry and they would come and collect the churns and there was a firm in Newport called Buckingham’s that used to come and pick the milk up from virtually all the farms. There were a few that used to retail milk, but mostly it was taken away in churns.
Lisa: Did they make cheese or cream?
Christine: No, just milk. There was nobody made cheese as it’s only in late years that there’s been a cheese maker really on the Island and few people may have made a little bit of cream, especially at Christmas, but probably for their own use rather than … the Creameries in Newport would do all that where the milk went in to. Then they manufactured it into whatever. They manufactured it in to calf milk powder and obviously they bottled milk as well and sold it retail in the big towns and they probably made cream but they didn’t make cheese as far as I know.
Lisa: So that was your first job when you were 12. How long did you work there for?
Christine: I worked there for about two years until I was taking my GCE’s as they were called then, and I actually obtained 10 GCE’s at the top grades so my mother was even more horrified that I insisted that I only wanted to work on the farm. However, I got my was eventually after being ill and being diagnosed with the fact that I was being stopped from doing something I wanted, and then I looked for my first job when I was 16. And I really wanted to work with cows but there were no cattle jobs, dairy jobs available, so I went to Merston to work for a man called David King at Broadfields Farm and he had 5000 laying hens in big army huts and I learnt, was taught by the lady who was actually looking after them then and she was about to leave. She trained me to look after them so I had to look after them, feed them and then on Mondays we has an egg round where I used to go to Sandown and Shanklin to all the Hotels, Guest Houses and private houses delivering eggs to regular customers. I also helped out on the land there when I was first learning so I was taught how to cut cauliflowers, cabbages, pick sprouts when there were quite a lot of vegetable growers on the Island. And it was all grown locally and supplied locally, so I learnt to do that. They also had a herd of pigs there which sometimes when the Pig Man has a day off I would go and feed the pigs so that was something else I learnt. And then after a couple of years, David King decided to get rid of all the poultry because they weren’t really paying and the pigs went not long after that and I was offered a job on the land but I didn’t really want to do that. I wanted to work with animals, so I had to look for another job and then the next job I was offered was at Parsonage Farm at Newchurch and the man there, Geoffrey College had just had a massive heart attack and was told he would never work again so he took me on to milk the cows and he only had about 25. So I was living at Lake by then. We moved to Lake when I was 11so I used to go every day … I had a scooter and I hadn’t passed my test then and I used to go there. But in the Winter of ’62-‘63 when we had horrendous snow, I woke up on Boxing Day to find that the snowflakes falling outside at 4 o’clock in the morning were as big as tea plates and I said that I would have to start to walk.
10 minutes 29 seconds
My father wouldn’t let me walk on my own, so we started off at just gone 4 o’clock in the morning, and we got to Newchurch at 12 o’clock. It took me eight hours to walk there. I had to go there because the farmer’s wife wasn’t really used to milking the cows. I don’t think she’d have known how so I had to get there to milk. So instead of milking twice that day, I only milked once and then when I’d fed the calves, bedded everything up and done all my jobs, we set off for home and we got home at midnight and I did that every day for six weeks until they’d cleared a bit of the road. In the meantime, my Grandmother had nominated me, unbeknown to me and my family, for an award, and I actually won an award. There were I think 10 or 12 people in the British Isles called ‘Heroine of the Storm’ and I was nominated and I was one of the winners and I won £20 which was an awful lot of money in those days and a bouquet of red roses and unfortunately my Grandmother died a week before we heard, so I put 11 roses on her grave, my father stuck the other one in the garden and it grew into the most beautiful red rose bush and we had it for years. So that was my job there. After 18 months, Mr College decided he could no longer afford to employ me because it was a small farm and he told me that he’d struggled to find my wages at the best of times and had been taking his savings to pay me, so I then had to look for something else. So, there was nothing about on the Island so I decided to advertise in the Farmers Weekly and I had about 500 replies from all over the British Isles. The Postman used to bring bags of mail just for me in a sack and I went through them all and then I got down to about six that I sort of quite liked the sound of. Some of them clearly wanted slave labour and didn’t really want to pay you but there were half a dozen that sounded quite promising and I was just about to go for the first interview to the Mainland when I had a knock on the door one evening and a gentleman stood there and said, “I understand you are looking for employment. My name is Brian Corbin and I farm at Roud.” Years ago when no one had cars, unless it was on a bus route or you had a reason to leave Sandown or Lake, you never went anywhere so I’d never heard of Roud. Anyway, I duly came out and had a look at the job and it was to milk 90 Ayrshire cows and be like Head, well the only person but … Herdswoman to an Ayrshire herd so I accepted the job and I used to work there seven days a week in the Summer and six and a half days a week in the Winter. Start at six in the morning, finish at half past five at night and I used to have £10 per week for that. So I milked the cows, I used to do all my own fencing, I used to rear all the calves, I used to clean all the yards and they were very large concrete yards so 90 cows stood on them for a couple of hours in the morning created a lot of mess. That all had to be cleaned with a push hoe and a wheelbarrow to tip it all away. I also helped with carting the hay and carting the straw in the evenings in the Summer, so although my job was finished at five thirty, I would take my tea and then carry on in the evening. And I worked there for a couple of years and enjoyed it. Used to mix all our own feed so I used to have a big mill and I would grind the barley and the molasses and the kernaline and the parmasine and mix it all up to make the right protein for the cows, and that was in a parlour there, in a breast parlour where the milk will go into a big glass jar, so we’d moved on a bit and it was then collected in churns and the lorry would come every morning about 9 o’clock and collect all the churns. But after a couple of years, I met my ‘to be’ husband and asked Mr Corbin if I could have a little more time off at weekends and the answer was “No.” And I said, “Well would you like to milk?” and his words were, “I’ve never milked a cow in my life and I don’t intend to start.” So I made a decision that I really did want some time off and if he wasn’t going to allow me extra time, I’d perhaps look for another employment. So, unbeknown to him, I applied for a job with the Milk Marketing Board and I obtained the position as Milk Recorder for the East Wight.
15 minutes 8 seconds
So then I gave my notice in and he was most upset and said, “Well perhaps I could see my way to giving you an odd day off once a month” and I said, “No I’m afraid it’s too late. I have another position and I’m leaving.” So I then went to work for the Milk Marketing Board and that entailed going round certain farms that would pay for the service to have their milk tested once every six weeks. So every week the Cowman or Cow Herdswoman would weigh the milk from each cow and record it on a chart. Every sixth week, or seven weeks, I would turn up, I would weigh the milk and I would also test it for butter fat content, protein content so each cow had to be individually tested with a syringe and put into a little glass bottle and labelled with the date, the name of the animal and then I would go to Newport. That was in the afternoon and I went back again the next morning and that was that job complete. So they had two visits, but always the afternoon first and then the morning and then I would take the glass jars which were put in a big wooden box to Newport railway station, put them on the train and they would go to Reading in Berkshire to be tested and then the farmers would get the results back so he could see the cows that had like good quality milk and those that perhaps had low protein or low butter fat that perhaps he would consider not breeding off of or not keeping and I did that for about 18 months. I’d got married in the meantime and then I was expecting our child and I did work up to nine months and one day but they insisted that I then leave in case I had the baby in somebody’s cow stable one morning. So I left and that was sort of the last of my employment. We lived at Lower Rill Farm at Chillerton then my husband and I and then our son was born and we were there for about nine months and we reared the heifers for Tom Fenwick who farmed at Ningwood. He had quite a big dairy herd so he would bring the heifers in calf over to Lower Rill Farm and we would look after them and then when the calved, we had to get them out the field into the buildings at Lower Rill and these heifers were quite wild, they’d never been handled and even the thought of having their own calf held in front of them didn’t always deter them from going the opposite way or jumping a hedge or whatever. But anyway, we’d get them in the building and then I’d have to, as they say, break them in for milking. They’d never been milked before so my husband would stand at the back and hold the cow’s tail up in the air which doesn’t hurt them but if they kick it might exert a bit of pressure on them to teach them that they shouldn’t kick and I was the one underneath getting kicked and milking the cows. And then once we’d got them quiet after four or five days, Tom Fenwick would send a lorry to pick them up and the cow and calf would be dispatched in Ningwood to be put in with their milking herd. So we stayed there for a while and the we heard that there were some farms coming up to rent in Roud, and I said to my husband, “That’s funny because that’s where I had worked before” so he came over and we had a look over both the farms and he had to go to County Hall for an interview with the Isle of Wight Council Smallholding Committee which were mostly retired farmers and they sort of knew what they were talking about because they were hands on people. And although we had a willingness to farm, both of us, we didn’t have any money and we quite honest and the Council just said, “Well, we can’t let you have the farm with no money.” Now my husband did have four or five little beef animals that he’d reared about a year old and he said, “Well we’ve got some animals to start with” and they said, “No, you really need some money.” So unfortunately we were turned down for either farm. They asked us which on ewe would like and of course you say, “Either.” You don’t pick a farm if you’ve got a chance to have one, so we thought about it and they suggested that he sold the animals he had, which to my mind was a bit silly, but anyway that’s what we did and we gained two or three hundred pounds and he got re-interviewed and they actually gave him the tenancy of the farm because they liked his hands. Because his hands were knarled and cut and rough and that proved that he would work. So we came here in 1967 so I have been here 50 years and there were lots of Council smallholdings in those days. I should think at least 50 on the Island and they ranged from 5 acres, which was the smallest on which was Cottage Farm at Whiteley Bank, or on the way to Wroxall to the biggest one which was 90 acres but most of them were 30 to 40 acres and that was sufficient for someone to make a living and in those days you probably could.
20 minutes 9 seconds
Lisa: So how many acres was the farm then?
Christine: So our farm here when we came here was 30 acres and then one of the tenants in the village left and his farm was split up and we were given another 20 acres and another gentleman who farmed down at Berrycroft Farm, he was given an additional 20 acres so our farms then increased, both the farms by 20 acres. So we still didn’t have a very big farm, but, yes, so that’s how we came to be here.
Lisa: So what was the arrangement then? Was the Council the landlord? They owned the property and the land?
Christine: Owners. Yes, they owned about 50 farms. They bought the Roud Estate in 1910/11 and it more or less went from Southford near Whitwell right through Roud and right up on Bleak Down to The Chequers. It was quite a big Estate and it was the Miss’s Fleming, Miss and Miss Fleming. They were the tenants then and I believe it was owned by someone from Shanklin but the Council bought it and then split it into lots of different small farms and they did that a lot all over the Island. There were farms at Alveston, there were farms at Shalcombe, there were farms at Chale, so they had a lot of farms, about 50 farms and as I say that was to give farm workers, and maybe farmer’s sons who if there were maybe a couple of sons and they couldn’t both gain succession of their father’s farm, they’d be given a chance to farm in their own right. So in those days it was a very good thing. The Council were responsible for doing the repairs to the farm so we were pleased that we got it and we came here one wet day on an open backed lorry with a few sticks of furniture ‘cos obviously when you got married in those days you didn’t have very much and you only really had what people gave you. And we had three little Guernsey calves and that’s all we came with. No money again but that’s how we started.
Lisa: And what was the farmhouse like then? Did it have … was there electricity and gas here?
Christine: No gas, no gas in Rookley. Gas in Godshill but none in Rookley, certainly not in Roud, not out in the country. There was electric but we came here in ’67 but the mains water hadn’t been put into Roud until 1963, so they’d only had mains water here four years, and in fact every cottage here has got a well and mine’s just outside my kitchen window on the path, so yes, the house was luckily … well luckily it stands on its own. Red brick and it was constructed in 1911 and it was one of four in the area in the Roud area that were built exactly the same so there’s this house, there’s Sunnyside Farm, The Beacon and Fushia Cottage which were all owned by the Council. They had them all built exactly the same.
Lisa: So how long did that arrangement continue then?
Christine: Well they carried on renting the farms and as my husband got older and became disabled and he was quite a lot older than me, I used to ask the Council what would happen if anything happened to my husband because in latter years, I did all the farming, so we had a Dairy here and we came with as I say, about three or four little Guernsey calves and we ended up with 40 Friesians and then when my husband became disabled, we decided to sell them in 1989 and 1990. And I had already bought a few sheep in 1984 when the milk quotas came in which crucified the small farmers, didn’t really hurt the big ones because they could plough up their land, get rid of some of their cows and grow crops. But when you’ve only got a small acreage you’re limited as what you can do, so the small farmers suffered. So I decided when the quotas came in, we would buy a few sheep. So I had a few sheep here so when the cows went we bought even more and in the end I had 200 ewes here. So I used to look after them all but I used to say to the Council, what would happen and they said to me, “Well you’ll have to get a Council House” and my retort was, “If you think I’m living in a Council flat in Gunville, you’ve got another think coming.” Anyway, a couple of years later one wet winters day, someone came to our front door and said he was from the Council and he was somebody quite high up in the Estates Office, and he asked if we would like to buy the farm and in fact the Council decided they would sell nearly all their farms because the farms had to be upgraded and … to catch the effluent and a lot of other things had to be done. It was going to cost about £100,000 per farm and the Council just didn’t have the money. So we were given the chance to buy it so we did. So after coming here with absolutely nothing in 1967, in 1997 when we bought it up, we ended up with absolutely nothing because every penny we had, had to pay for the farm. So I started off 20 years ago, all over again, and that’s what you have to do and that’s why, if you work on a farm you work hard and you do it for your benefit and to improve the countryside and your quality of living and obviously the animals welfare and that’s what you do.
25 minutes 53 seconds
Lisa: So you had your … you had 200 ewes around about the time you bought the farm for yourself? Did you carry on then with the sheep after that?
Christine: Yes, I did. I also, also went out to work every day. I used to work first for a firm of agricultural engineers at Rookley, and when they gave the business up on the island, they had a branch on the Mainland, I then went to work for a firm of agricultural feed merchants, so I’ve always worked. I think farmers do generally work really hard. I also do family history professionally, or I did. I traded at antique fairs weekends. Monday mornings I had a little cleaning job for one of my husband’s elderly friends, and I also used to teach for the Isle of Wight College, at Holliers Farm, doing the school trips from the mainland, for children who genuinely do not know that milk comes out of cows and not out of bottles. They have no idea where an egg comes from. They don’t know anything about how bread is made and what it’s made of, and it was very satisfying and I was very upset, disappointed when the college decided to no longer do that because I think it was a really good asset to teach not only island children but … of course Island children are used to more of a rural environment but those out of the big towns on the Mainland had no idea, none at all. So I’ve always worked quite hard. Well I haven’t worked hard. I’ve done what all the other farmers do, but when I’ve gone and told my story, people say “Hell, didn’t you work hard?” No I didn’t, not really. I think your life’s there to fulfil, not just sit idly by and let other people do things.
Lisa: So there came a time then when your income from the farm needed to be supplemented. You needed to do additional work to meet a living?
Christine: Yes, yes, I always did because … yes, the small farms, you know, you would just about pay your way but you had a job to save anything, and really the only time we made any money was after we bought the farm and we decided to cows, we leased our milk quota for a year or two, and then we sold it, and really that was what was our salvation, that we gained a little bit of money from doing that.
Lisa: Can you tell me a bit more about the milk quotas?
Christine: Yes. The Government brought them in in 1984 when they said that you could only produce so much milk on certain size farms, and of course if you had say ten cows that more than would have given the quota, you had to get rid of them because they wouldn’t pay you for the extra milk, so you had to try and find something else to do, so that’s why I bought these first sheep. I knew nothing about sheep. I bought them off a friend of ours. I bought 20 really old ewes and he said, “Well they’ll do you one year” and I think I paid him £20 each for them. I kept them a year. They all had twins and triplets and I think the lambs all made, in those days, £30 or £40 each, so I had quite a few hundred pound and then I sold the old ewes a year later for £25 so I made £5 on each of the ewes plus all the lambs I’d had, so that was an extra supplement to the milk quotas, and then, as I say, we got rid of the cows and the sheep increased, so I had some commercial sheep, which are cross-bred sheep that you just keep for meat lambs, and I also kept some pedigree Texel sheep, Texel’s are islands off the coast of Holland, and they … you breed them really to get some good rams and then you sell the rams to other sheep farmers to improve the confirmation of their lambs, so I sort of had half and half, half pedigree and half non-pedigree.
Lisa: How does it work with the lambs, when they’re ready to go?
Christine: Well in mo….
Lisa: Who do you… who do you sell them to? Who comes to collect them?
Christine: I used to either sell them straight to the slaughterhouse or I would sell them in a live market, such as Salisbury or Frome market. Unfortunately today there is no slaughterhouse on the island so people have to lorry all their animals away to the mainland and they haul them all sorts of distances. As I say, Frome, Salisbury … I’ve got a friend who goes to Gloucester, to Newark in Nottingham, and that’s what you have to do. There’s no means here of slaughtering animals. There’s no incinerator for getting rid of carcasses, you know, animals that have died on the farm. You either have to have your own incinerator or pay exorbitant amounts to have them collected by the knackerman as they call them, to then take them to the mainland in a sealed container, so it’s all against the farmer. It’s not helping the farmer at all. It costs a lot of money to … for a welfare issue, which the farmers are willing to do but they have to pay a real financial penalty for doing it.
Lisa: When we had a slaughterhouse on the island, where was it?
Christine: It was at Heytesbury in Newport, which is just above Halfords if you go up on Hunneyhill and turn left. There was a slaughterhouse there. There was also one in Scarrots Lane where Scarrots Lane Market Bakery are now, and our cattle used to go in there. Bennet and Hamilton, two gentlemen had it. Yes, they would go in there and be slaughtered, and there was, there was another pig slaughterhouse at Wroxall. Mr Flux had that, so there was, there was you know three or four places you could go. There have been some private slaughter men on the Island. I think there’s one still licensed now but obviously you have to be licensed. You have to do it all properly, but he would only do perhaps some odd sheep or bullock for your own use, but if you’ve got a quantity of animals they have to go in a lorry, and there again it’s expensive to get them off the island. You know, lorries on the ferries today, hundreds of pounds to get them over, which the farmer has to bear the brunt of.
Lisa: Have you grown crops here?
Christine: We did. We used to grow barley. We had a field on the way to Godshill. The only problem with our farm is it’s all split up. It’s split up into different blocks so the field that was furthest away was six acres. We used to grow barley in that. We didn’t have a combine so we used to borrow one and it was called a bagging combine so instead of the corn coming out of the combine and going straight into a trailer and being taken off, it would drop it in the field in hundredweight bags and then … well I was younger then … I used to pick them up, a hundredweight bag, and put them up in a trailer and I could do it. I couldn’t do it now but I did then, so yes, we have grown barley here but that’s all. Other than that it’s always been grassland. Apart from sometimes in the winter when we had the cattle, we used to grow kale, which is like a tall cabbage that the cows can graze in the winter when the grass is lacking. And we grew a lot of hay here but if we needed extra, we would perhaps buy some in. We would buy all our straw in. We used to get it from Cridmore Farms. We used to buy two thousand bales, and from Robert Morgan at Sheepwash Farm. We would have two thousand bales. Small bales. And I would … my husband would pitch every one so four thousand bales by hand, and I would be on the trailer loading them all up, so yes, you had to work quite physically hard then and we sometimes wouldn’t come in until one o’clock in the morning, especially if it was going to rain, and you had to get the crop in so it didn’t … so hay or straw. Just … everybody did it. It wasn’t just me. That’s what farmers did. Of course now it’s all mechanised, and the farmers aren’t about.
Lisa: So what kind of machinery were you using then?
Christine: So we used to have little tractors and a little conventional baler that used to do the small square bales, and my husband would go and, if it was hay, obviously, cut it and then turn it until it was the right condition to bale it, and then he’d bale it up and then he’d come up with … get the trailer and hook the trailer on and I’d go off with him and we’d carry it all back and put it in the barn, and if it was straw, well it was baled for us but you would still have to go right down to Cridmore which is some little way from here, about two miles, or up into Sheepwash Farm, but more up Stembury way. That’s probably about a mile and a half, and then haul it all back.
Lisa: Have there been, do you think, in your lifetime, there have been changes that have made improvements, with regard to machinery?
Christine: Well machinery’s moved on, but today the big machinery obviously can only operate on the very large fields. A lot of the Island have only got small fields and so clearly you couldn’t take massive machinery into a small field. Farming is sadly declined … well really badly. I mean years ago everybody like in Roud there were about seven or eight little farms, all self-sufficient. A couple of them employed people. Now you need about a thousand acres to just survive, and it’s turned into a business. Sadly the British public don’t support British farmers. They’re happy to go in the supermarket with their trolley and throw any food in irrespective of what country it comes from, and a lot of the supermarkets don’t stock Island produce, when we grow, for example, tomatoes at Arreton but they don’t stock Isle of Wight tomatoes. The reason being that they’re all taken by the growers to the Mainland and the supermarkets won’t pay to have them brought back. When I suggested that the supermarket took their own van to Arreton once a week, no they’re not allowed to do that, so veg and things like that, and meat, they will buy meat irrespective of what country it comes from if it’s the cheapest, so sadly farmers have not got the support from the general public nor have they really got it from the government, and I think with Brexit coming in, and farmers have had subsidies from the European Union for some time, if that comes to an end I can see a lot of farmers not being able to survive, and what’s going to happen to our countryside?
Lisa: When you were younger then, was there a lot more local produce available?
Christine: Oh yes, yes there was. A lot of … Some farmers, when I worked at Parsonage Farm at Newchurch, there was a little man opposite called Mr Lane. He had about three Guernsey cows and he also had a veg round and in his sort of fields he would grow carrots and cabbage and marrows, and he would have a little round. There was a lot of people did that. Davy King who I worked for, with the poultry, at Merston, he had several lorries that would deliver to the shops, sort of wholesale, but you … and he grew everything there. So yes, a lot of it was grown locally. Now I don’t think anyone grows sprouts on the island. I’m 99 per cent sure of that. I shop … If I do shop, I shop in Farmhouse Fayre in Newport, where a distant, distant relative of mine called Philip Morris who farms at Atherfield, it’s his shop, and whilst I appreciate they don’t grow oranges and bananas at Atherfield, they do grow their own cabbages, their cauliflowers, and it’s much nicer, it’s cheaper, and I think I’m supporting the farming, so that’s why I always shop in there. I will never buy fruit and veg in the supermarket ever, and it’s a shame as I say, that other people don’t give a little bit of thought for the people who are the custodians of the countryside really. They just don’t give a thought for farmers. And milk, they buy the cheapest milk they can. If there’s Isle of Wight milk and it’s twopence or threepence dearer, they wouldn’t consider it. They don’t think they’re helping the farmers. A lot of our milk comes from France where their probably hygiene standards are not half as good as the Brit… British farmers are very, very good at what they do. Welfare, and the way they produce things, quality, you cannot beat the British farmer.
Lisa: When did you, when did you … when did it come to an end with your sheep then?
Christine: Well after my husband died in 2002, I carried on for two or three years. My father was still alive then. Our son lives on the mainland in Somerset. He’s got a very high paid job. He was never interested in farming. As I say, I think it’s something in your blood. I think he saw us struggle when he was a little boy. Come in wet, freezing cold, go out in the middle of the night, and it probably put him off for life. But he never … he was never interested, so after my husband died I went on for another two or three years and my father’s a very wise man. He said “Why are you doing it?” And I had to stop and think about it. So sadly I decided to sell the sheep, which I did. I had another farm down the road as well, when I gained the extra acreage, so I sadly sold all that off in lots and I just kept 30 acres up here, which I rent the grazing out to my friends, who bring two or three hundred sheep here and graze when the grass is here, so I keep an eye on them for them, but I’m no longer actively into farming, although I don’t say I don’t miss it. Of course I do, but I’m lucky that I still live here in the most … well a lovely part of the world, and when I look back, my Great Great Grandfather was the Farm Bailiff of Roud in the 1870’s. Henry Morris. So he lived here before me, and lots of the farms that I’ve been to on the Island have all been farmed by my relatives, and I can go back to my seventh great grandfather, John Morris, who owned Lower Rill Farm at Chillerton, which is the first farm we went to live in when we got married. He owned that, and I can tell you about that all my family on the island … and all farmers, so yes.
40 minutes 43
Lisa: Thinking about this area here, you know, this fantastic view that you’ve got, do you think this part of the Island has changed in your lifetime?
Christine: The only thing … not the actual … a little bit. The farm opposite, Holden Farm where I went to milk the 90 Ayrshires, the field that you see from my kitchen window which is now one massive field was about five fields when I was there so all the hedges have been taken out. The field adjoining it, which belonged to Ford Farm, was the site of the first pop festival which was called Howsfield and we hadn’t been here very long when that took place so apart from those two fields having their hedges, now all the other fields you can see are about the same size. The one thing you do notice is there is no animals in any of them. When we came here you’d look out of my window and you would see animals in every field and now apart from on The Hermitage, someone’s got a few sheep up there, I see no animals. And I’m the only one in Roud that still has a farm as such where animals graze the land. Sadly the fields I sold at the other farm were sold to people with horses so it’s all for pleasure and not for making a living.
Lisa: What about wildlife?
Christine: Wildlife? Well there aren’t very many rabbits about now because of the myxomatosis. We do have a few but not like we used to. Saying that, that’s not such a bad thing although I like to eat rabbit and of course today that’s unheard of but that’s what I used to do, eat a lot of it. Birds, there aren’t many birds about and because I keep racing pigeons, I’m a little bit biased but the main reason we haven’t go t them is nothing to do with the way farmers farm the land. It is the birds of prey that are allowed to multiply with no restrictions. So, for example, two days this week I’ve looked outside to see a hen sparrow hawk sat on my bird table and she has taken all my small birds and I have a list here of all the birds that have been here in the last two or three months. They’ve sadly, virtually all gone. We are inundated with peregrines round the Island. There’s probably at least 15 or 20 pairs and they will take any bird, so birds are sadly lacking. We have quite a few pheasants here but they are put down by the Keepers that shoot the ground … that have got Shoots round here so there are very few native pheasants and the same with partridges. They’re put down by the Keepers, so yes it has changed. There’s a lot less wildlife and sadly people that live in the country now, the type of people that live in the country have no interest in the country. If I say to them for example, “There’s a pair of snipe in my moor” they’ll say, “What’s that?” when they were quite common birds and now are rare and I’m delighted when I see them. We’ve got kingfishers in the river. The River Yar runs through my farm. It rises at Beerlay at Niton and it ends up at St Helens. Down in the river there’s kingfishers and I have apparently the highest stock density per yard or however they measured it by the Environment Agency of fish, so it has changed, animal and bird wise.
Lisa: What kind of fish are in the stream?
Christine: Well I only thought there were eels and probably some brown trout, but the Environment Agency came about 18 months ago and they stunned them all with an electric rod and I have got the survey in my filing cabinet. I can’t remember what they all are, but there are an awful lot and the man was amazed but I think a lot of it was … we had a … down the road somebody had a pond that had been stocked with fish and about 20 years ago we had a horrendous flood here one night. It was up to my chest, so it would have been five feet deep and it washed the pond out into the river and I think probably that where some of them came from, but the Environment Agency were very surprised at how many were there. But out on the land … but you have to look, you have to see. As I said, people that live in the village, you say, “Look at that chestnut tree. You know it’s got canker on the side.” And they go, “What?” They’re just not interested. There aren’t many flowers and trees I don’t know. Most birds I know and I look for them. But I am of a dying generation. In years to come, I don’t know what will happen to the countryside. It will be very sad. Glad I won’t be here to see it.
45 minutes 42 seconds
Lisa: Can you tell me bit more about your pigeons?
Christine: Yes, it was never my wish to keep them (laughs). It was husband’s hobby. I mean he worked very, very hard and it was just his little hobby at weekends. They’d race them on a Saturday and he died and I came home and thought well, I can cope with the … it’s just all the sheep were about to lamb, I can cope with that. I didn’t used to go to bed at all at night for two or three weeks but I could cope with that and I thought, “Oh, what am I going to do with the pigeons?” So I went and got some corn, I didn’t know how much to give them but I know that all animals need feeding water so I fed them and you treat them just like a cow, a sheep or whatever animal you’ve got. Well for the last … since he died, so that’s 15 years ago, I’ve been a pigeon fancier. I either had to kill them all, because although he did very well, you have to be top of the tree to get a name for yourself, so either I had to kill them or try and race them so I decided, probably not very wisely but never mind, well now I’m sort of hooked on it and I’ve now got 150 racing pigeons. I’m Secretary of the local Club. I had been Secretary when Ventnor had a pigeon club, only because they needed a woman that had a pen and unfortunately that was me but I had nothing to do with the pigeons, I didn’t know anything about them, but now I race them from Tarbes in the South of France, and we have raced from Thurso in Scotland so they race either South, which is called South Road or North which is called North Road if they come down from the North and I’ve been quite successful. I was third in England about five years ago with a pigeon from the South of France, from Bordeaux, and they were most, nearly all men fanciers, there’s very few women, it’s quite a rarity to have a woman fancier, so yeah, all the summer on Friday nights we mark the pigeons ready for the race out in what was our parlour, and the men from the Club come and we get them ready and we employ someone to take them to Southampton on the Ferry and he meets the transporter which is like a very long vehicle like a Furniture lorry but it’s got … you put the crates in there and it’s got automatic feeding and drinking, they can be looked after. And then they’re driven up overnight to their liberation point and they can only go to certain places that are licensed. The one on the Island is the Chale Recreation Ground on the Military Road. That’s the only place they’re allowed to release them. And so on the morning of Saturday, there’s probably thousands of lorries all over the British Isles with pigeons on waiting to be released. They have to ring each other up to see when they’re going to let their birds go and which direction they’re going in. Are they flying in to Wales from Kent or are they flying from Somerset up to Cheshire, to make sure they don’t try and cross each other and clash, and the weather has to be suitable and the wind has to be suitable and then when the birds are released, the driver and Convoyer will tell the Federation Secretary because our Club belongs to a Federation which is several other Clubs around the Hampshire area. The Convoyer will tell the Fed Secretary, who then rings me and then I have to tell our fanciers … for example the birds went up at 8 o’clock this morning in a strong North West wind and you can work out then if say they are flying 100 miles and the wind is behind them, it will drive them on. Obviously if it’s in their heads, it slows them down. You can roughly work out when you expect them. And then you go out in the garden with your little corn tin and wait and scan the skies and get all excited when one comes in the distance and you’re calling it and it has to go in very quickly so that you can time it in. And today it’s all modern. It’s all done with electronic timing. They carry a little electronic chip on their leg. When they enter the loft, it’s all recorded automatically, so on the little clock, it says the date, exactly the time to the second the bird went over the pad that records the information. It’s got the colour of the bird, the sex of the bird and where it was racing from. So it’s all quite high tech today. So that’s just something else I do now I’m sort of retired from farming, never a dull moment. You have to enjoy your life while you’ve got it because the other alternative is not worth thinking about.
50 minutes 14 seconds
Lisa: Just going back to the pigeons, as someone that doesn’t really know much about this, do they generally all make it back?
Christine: Most of them do. You do get a few fatalities. For example, they might fly into a telegraph wire and break their wing and fall down. Birds of prey, as I said earlier, are our worst enemy. If they go into a flock of pigeons that have just been released, it’s not just the one they catch. They terrify the others. They drop like a stone out the sky. They’ll fall on anything, on the road, they’re absolutely terrified. But mostly they come home. If they’re coming across from France and it’s windy, they fly just above the waves, so clearly if there was a big wave came, we try not to think about that, but that does happen. Or on odd occasions, especially with young birds, that’s ones that are born, they’re just being hatched now, and we start racing them at the end of July, and they do not have a lot of sense. It’s like trying to teach a child. The older they are the more knowledge they have, so you do lose a lot of young birds but that’s because they just get lost and they just can’t seem to find their way home. They say they try and do it by the magnetic North Pole. That’s how they home, but whether that’s right … it’s never been proven but there’s all sorts of theories as to how do they find their way home. But it’s quite clever. If you think you can let a bird go say from Thurso in Scotland, 565 miles, and I timed one in that evening. I was first club, only bird in the club, and only bird in the Federation on the day. The only bird to make it home and they let them up at quarter to six in the morning and I timed her in at ten to ten at night in the dark. I saw her hit the loft and I timed her in and I was the only one to get one, so it’s pretty clever. And she came home because she had some eggs. It’s quite technical how you do it. You try to entice them to come home either with chicks or eggs, and each pigeon’s individual, and you have to sort of know that this one races home better to eggs, that one likes little chicks, that one likes big chicks, so it’s not just a case of taking them out the loft and sending anything. You have to get them to lay … if you’re sending them to the south of France, 520 miles say, you try to get them sitting on eggs, the hens, ten days, so that they can feel the chicks inside, then you send them off and of course the minute they’re released, their aim is to get back for their chicks and that’s the incentive as to why they come home, and hopefully they like to come home to see me as well.
Lisa: Oh it’s fascinating, so interesting.
Christine: Yes, it is. I actually go out giving talks in the winter, to lots of groups and I’ve got lots of bookings for next year, and I entitle it ‘I have the same interest as the Queen’ so when I get to the meeting the people think that I breed corgis or I keep racehorses and they have no idea, and then when I tell them they say, “What’s that got to do with the Queen?” Well the thing is she has a very large loft at Sandringham. All royalty have pigeons, racing pigeons. Not many people know that, and a lot of film stars, footballers, it’s quite a popular hobby by people that you would never think that would do it. So that’s why I entitle it that I have the same interest as the Queen. And at the end of the evening when people are usually fascinated by what I’ve told them, I say to them “If I’d had said I was coming tonight to talk about racing pigeons, how many would you have come?” and most of them wouldn’t, but by the time I’ve told them the story, especially in the War when they saved thousands of Airmens’ and Soldiers’ lives by being taken in. Submarines and bombers, and released, and they would come back with messages to say where the plane had ditched. They were fantastic. They won more Dicken medals than all the other animals put together, and they were just wonderful, and it really makes me quite emotional when I talk about it really, but there.
Lisa: Mm. Well shall we have a look at some of these documents and photographs and things that you’ve got out for me? Can you tell me a bit about your memories of the old County Shows? Where were they held?
Christine: Well the ones I remember, I remember first, was at Blackwater, and that would be on the site of New Close Cricket Club now, and I took my first animals there when I was twelve, and they were cows from the farmers that I worked for at Yaverland, and I took Bracelet and Daphne and I think we got a prize for them. And in those days it was a hive of activity. There were lots of farmers showing their cattle and their sheep and their pigs, and there was a very large gymkhana. A lot of people came with their horses and did show jumping and there were lots of tents and they were all agricultural machinery people or tradespeople that sold seeds and fertilizers. And there was a great big beer tent and the farm workers would come and go and have a few pints, and they would run buses past the showground quite regularly, and a lot of the farm workers were allowed to finish work early that day, say at three o’clock, so they could come down to the show and just go and have a look round, and you met all your friends there, and then latterly it moved up to the now showground which is at Northwood. I remember when I first started showing sheep there, in the sort of early nineties, there were still a lot of farmers that took part. They had big rings where they’d parade their cattle round, and their sheep and there was a lot of horses still. Lots of tradespeople all connected with agriculture, but sadly that’s all gone now, and although they do still have a County Show as such, it’s really just a glorified gymkhana. I think they have very few animals up there, and sadly the tradespeople that would have been numerous, are just sadly lacking now because there’s no need for them to be in existence because of the number of farmers is so many fewer than they were. I think before Blackwater they had it at Nine Acres in Newport, but I don’t recall that. That was before my time.
56 minutes 57 seconds
Lisa: So you’ve shown animals over the years. Are there different classes that you can put your animals into?
Christine: Oh yes, yes, yes. With sheep for example, you might have lambs up to six months old and you might have gimmers which are ewe lambs before they’ve lambed. They might have a class for those, and then older ewes and then young rams and old rams, so yes, in the sheep line. In the cattle there’d be heifers say under six months, heifers up to eighteen months, and then there’d be cows another class, and a class for bulls, and of course years ago people did take their bulls in on a bull pole so the bull had a ring in its nose, and they would attach a clip to it and they would hold a long wooden handle so they could control it by lifting the nose up and down and that was the only way they could control the animal. But that took a lot of work because they all had to be trained to be led round before they ever went to the show. But I think now if they do have animals at the County Show they’re just more or less kept in their pens. I don’t think they’re paraded round, but sadly it’s just a decline in farming that’s made it like that.
Lisa: So what were the animals judged on?
Christine On confirmation really. Obviously dairy cows, they … I used to do stock judging for the Young Farmers Club so you look for the way the animal walks, if she’s secure and steady on all four legs. In other words she hasn’t got a weakness on her back legs, the way the udder that carries the milk is placed on the cow and that the teats are uniform and one on each corner of the udder and all the same length. And something called the ‘Dairy Wedge’ which is the area between the shoulder blade and the hip bone. The longer, wider and deeper it is the better the cow. This is for judging, it doesn’t mean to say the cow is the best milker because I have been to some farms and judged cows where usually you have four cows to judge. This is stock judging and they are always classed as ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘X’ and ‘Y’. And you have to place them in order and then you go before a Judge and you give your reasons. For example, you would say, “I place cow A in first place because she has a deep Dairy Wedge, good action on hip and pin, well placed udder, good teats and therefore I place her first.” And maybe the last cow you would say would be ‘X’. “I place her last because she has a pendulous udder, she has a weakness on her hip and pin, she’s showing her age” and I’ve done that quite a lot, to then be told by the owner of the cow that the one that I placed last was actually by far the best milker. So she may not have been the best looker, but she would have been the best cow. And the same with pigs. The length of the pig, the depth of the pig, it’s done on confirmation more than anything. That’s how you judge them.
59 minutes 53 seconds
Lisa: So when it comes to sort of picking who you’re taking to the Show, then it pays to have that knowledge.
Christine: Oh, yes. Yeah you select them, and when I used to show my pedigree Texel sheep, you are not allowed to trim them. Some breeds you can trim them, trim their fleece so that it makes them look more flat on their back. In other words, little tricks of the trade but in Texels, you are not allowed to do any of that so all I used to do was get the cold hosepipe and just wash them all over the day before the Show. Sometimes I had 24 sheep to wash which is no mean feat and it took nearly all day to do it but if you want to win something or to show your stock off to the best ability, obviously you present them in the best way. And you wear a white coat and you have a white halter and you try to do it properly. And I’ve also taken some of my sheep to the New Forest Show where I was quite successful , but obviously not cost effective, but you did it to win a rosette and it probably cost me around £200 to take two or three sheep over there just to win a rosette, but it’s just to get a name in the breeding world so they say, “Oh, that lady from the Isle of Wight some really nice Texel sheep” and maybe they might want to buy a ram off you next year because of what you’ve presented on the day. It’s a marketing ploy really.
Lisa: So you don’t win cash prizes then, you win a rosette and …?
Christine: Yeah, a rosette. You might win like £5 which wouldn’t have even bought your lunch so …
Lisa: What are your recollections of the Market in Newport from when you were younger?
Christine: Well I used to go to the Market before I ever worked on a farm. Yes, it was very busy. It was more or less where Morrison’s is now and they had the cattle market which was quite large and sold anything in there, cattle, sheep, pigs. Around the sides of the rings were machinery dealers such as J H Linnington, Frank Cheverton who were tractor dealers, Silcox who sold animal feed to farmers, Bibby’s, they were another firm that sold animal feed so you could go and see the Rep on the day … it was a day out. You took your animals in the Market, you looked at other people’s animals and then you could go and do your business with the people that were there that were trading. I remember Camp Hill Prison coming down with their cart horse and wagon on with a prisoner driving the horse and the Warder sat by his side and in the back of the open wagon would be pigs, with a net over them obviously so they didn’t jump out over. And this trustee prisoner was allowed to drive them down to Newport Market which was always on a Tuesday to unload them, and maybe even have an hour out of the Prison and then the Warder would make him drive the horse back to the Prison. And across the road, about where Event, the card shop is now or probably next door, there was what we called ‘Covent Market’ and they sold fruit and veg, so anybody smallholders that had excess, any sorts of veg or anything from their smallholding or garden could take it in there and sell it to people who’d come and bid for it. And yes, you could buy some quite good things. Potatoes, cabbages, whatever you wanted and so that was the veg side, but the animal side, that was very well supported and we sold, well, all our calves in there until it closed and then it moved down to Brickfields Horse Country at Binstead, where we then had to take the calves down there. And then that finished and, well we got rid of our cows by then so we no longer went there but I believe they still have a Gilten Market up at Rookley, at the Riding School, sort of behind the Chequers Inn and they do that just once a year.
Lisa: So how would you go about buying and selling your animals at the Market?
Christine: Well you take them in and present them and they’d have a number put on them with some glue to make sure that was the animal that you presented. It would be recorded by the Auctioneer and then people would come and bid on them. It was an Auction and then the highest bidder, the Auctioneer would bang his gavel down and say, “Sold to Mr Jones” or whatever and that lot would be the property of the new owner and after the sale, you would go to the Office where they would give you the money that they’d sold your animal for minus the commission. They obviously took commission and they just used to take it off the seller whereas I think today in some of the furniture auctions, they not only take it off the buyer, they take if off the seller as well, so you know you both have to cough up but in those days, yes, they just took some commission and that was a good way of doing it. I mean everybody went to Newport Market. A few went to Salisbury, not many. Of course now there is no real Market so everything has to go to the Mainland.
65 minutes 10 seconds
Lisa: You mentioned earlier that you were a member of the Young Farmers on the Island. Can you tell me a bit about Young Farmers?
Christine: Yes, there was several Young Farmers Clubs. I was in the one at Shanklin. There was also Newport, Ryde and Freshwater, or West Wight and it was really good fun. We used to , in the Summer, go to different farms, so on Friday evening, we would all meet at Shanklin Bus Station which is where the Co-Op now is, the large Co-Op. We would all get in a coach and we would then be taken off to a farm that was expecting us and the farmer would show us around and then at the end of the evening, the best part was the food. So the farmer’s wife would provide a lovely buffet and we’d have a really good time. There would be perhaps 60 people in the coach and maybe one or two farmers who were slightly older who had their own cars would come as well. So you might have 80 or 90 people at a farm walk. Be taken all round the farm, explain the crops and the stock and it was really interesting. And then, once or twice a year we’d have competitions against each other, so we might have a quiz evening and obviously Shanklin would do there darndist to try and beat the West Wight, Newport or Cowes, and I expect there was a cup or an award if you won and we also had rallies and I remember going to one at Merrie Gardens Farm, which was Mr Pursley’s at the time, which is at Lake, near where Morrison’s is now, and you could enter all sorts of competitions so you could go in for knitting, sewing, a farm worker’s lunch box, a floral arrangement, plant identification, feed identification and that’s way that you learnt. Even if you didn’t win, you hoped that you’d learnt something and you got awards for that and I’ve got some certificates and then also Young Farmers would enter into the Isle of Wight County Show at Northwood and I used to do that as well and sometimes be lucky enough to pick up a card or win the class, so it was all good competition and there were a lot of young farmers then. And we used to have Dinner Dances. We used to have them very often at the Channel View Hotel at Shanklin and they’d be 100-150 people go all from the farming community and it was really good. Yes, Young Farmers was a very good opening but sadly now there isn’t the opening in farming because of the lack of farms and I think the modern technology today, a lot of young people in the country are not so interested in farming anyway, so I don’t think they have any meetings now which is all sad really.
Lisa: You showed me one of the copies of the Isle of Wight Farmers Journal that you’ve got there.
Christine: I did.
Lisa: Some of these publications just aren’t around anymore.
Christine: No, this was issued by the Isle of Wight Branch of the National Farmers Union and we joined the NFU when we started farming and their headquarters were on the Mall at Newport and yes, you’ve got the Journal. I’m not sure if they didn’t come out quarterly. I’ve luckily got Volume 1 of number one, full of adverts, a list of people that had joined since the last one was issued, all about the ploughing grants for grassland and a mine of information really. People used to look forward to having it because it was sort of something to keep you informed with people on the Island, but as I say I’m sure they don’t do them now. I’ve got quite a few of them but that was the original, the very first one of the first volume.
Lisa: So you mentioned the NFU, that’s the National …
Christine: Farmers Union. Yes, there again in those days there were lots of farmers. There was the Secretary who had a secretary of his own and there may have been one lady in the front office, Mrs Muff, a lovely lady she was and she dealt with all the queries and all the claims for farm machinery, you know your farmhouse, your buildings or whatever and it was really outgoing and hardly anybody employed there, as I say, only three people. Of course today, I know they branched out and they will insure anybody. I don’t think you have to be a National Farmers Union member but they have a staff of seven or eight people and obviously it’s all computerised so going back to years ago, it was a book and a pen. But yeah, it’s still going and it’s in offices down behind the Police Station in Newport now. They moved from the Mall in Newport to Carisbrooke and took over what was Hampshire Cattle Breeders Artificial Insemination Centre where the inseminators met every day. They sold that off and the National Farmers Union bought it but latterly have moved down into Newport town now. It’s still going but it’s just the lack of farming, they probably make their business pay by insuring anyone that wants to insure with them.
70 minutes 44 seconds
Lisa: So just to finish off the interview because we’ve talked about so many different things, I just wondered what you think the sort of main changes to farming have been in your lifetime?
Christine: Well, the lack of farmers that are now about really caused by the lack of support of the general public and the Government I would say. Farming is just not what it is and it will never go back to what it is and people have changed so much. When we came here, everyone spoke to everyone, everyone helped everyone, if you broke something somebody would come up with a replacement and either let you have it for nothing or lend it to you or whatever, and sadly now in the country, you hardly know your neighbours, the people who move that move into the hamlet have got no interest in the hamlet itself, the history of it, all the people that live here, so the whole way of life in the countryside has totally changed. I know in towns perhaps people don’t get to know their neighbours as well but in the countryside you certainly did. You knew everybody. I’m just fortunate I’ve lived such a long time that I know lots of people on the Island and people wonder how I know that but no, today it’s a different world altogether, sadly.
Lisa: What do you enjoy most about the Isle of Wight countryside?
Christine: That’s it, the Isle of Wight countryside. You couldn’t have better. Where I live I can see for miles, I’ve got no neighbours, no traffic, peace and quiet, but if you go up on the Downs say from the Hare and Hounds towards Ryde, how can you beat that for a view? If you go along the Military Road, fantastic! I sometimes used to wonder why people came to the Isle of Wight on holiday until I had, on occasions , to go for example to London and you see how they live and you can quite understand why they just want to come, even for a week, on the Island. We’re just so lucky. We’ve got everything here that you could want. The only thing I don’t like are the Ferries but that’s another story.
Lisa: Thank you Christine for a fascinating interview.
Christine: You’re more than welcome.
73 minutes 2 seconds
Transcribed September 2017 by Chris Litton