I’m Mrs Dianne Whitelock nee Cardnow. I now live in Brighstone and have done for the past four years, but I was brought up in Porchfield on quite an isolated farm called Lambslees Farm. It had been in the family for several generations.
I’m Sandra Piggot, nee Cardnow. I was also born at Porchfield in 1950 at Lambslees Farm. I now live in Freshwater.
I’m Paul Whitelock. My father and family farmed at Old Park Farm at St Lawrence I live in Brighstone with Dianne, nee Cardnow (laughs). We had 150 acres down there at Old Park, mainly dairy.
Margaret Dianne, at Lambslees you had what sort of stock or …?
Dianne We had mainly dairy cattle, well it was, just dairy cattle. The land at Lambslees is heavy clay. I guess by the name that they used to run sheep over it many years ago but certainly not in my lifetime and as far as I know, not in my great grandfather’s or grandfather’s time. I do have old inventories that show just basically nothing more than a smallholding where upgraded peasant farmers basically. There was a lot of dairy, butter made. I’m not sure about the cheese but in the old dairy, it had marble slabs throughout and my grandfather had a big old butter churn and when I was little I can remember him making the butter there, turning the churn. He didn’t want it too hot and he didn’t want it too cold, the temperature had to be just right if I remember rightly, but lovely salty butter was the result. Sandra, what do you remember?
Sandra I don’t remember back that far. I just remember the dairy being used to wash all the milking equipment from the stables, all the Gascoigne Alpha Laval buckets and equipment. That’s all I remember the dairy for and of course for cooling the milk. Always remember wheeling the milk churns across from the stable into the dairy and fixing the cooler in it and was fascinated as a little kid by the water running down the sides of the milk churns to cool it.
Margaret Were you milking by hand at this stage …?
Margaret … or had electricity reach the village.
Dianne No. We didn’t have electricity. We’re talking back in the 1950’s. I would have been about seven or eight when I started to milk the cows, with my father, and the stable could take at that time 30 cows, so they came in and were fed, and we milked them, and down at the end of the stable was a motorised engine. I believe it was a Gascoigne engine, and this sent the vacuum through the pipes, and we milked the cows like that. I’m sorry I’m not very technical, but it was my job to wash the cows’ udders and to milk them really. Basically I grew up doing that. The cows were different breeds. Mainly Ayrshires but there was Redpoles and Guernsey crosses, a real mixture in actual fact, but later, probably when I was in my teens, so we’re talking of the early sixties, we increased the number of cows we were milking and at one time we had about sixty. That means that then that was two stablefulls of cows. By that time a covered yard had been built so that the animals could stay in in the winter, and this of course meant that we could milk twice as many cows.
Sandra Harking back to that, I don’t remember that so much, but what I do remember is, at the first, is the cows, they all had their individual names which we all knew, and what used to fascinate me as a little child was that each cow knew their pen to go into in the milking stable. They just knew which pen to go into. I don’t know if the amount of milk was recorded then, from each cow, but they had their set places, which I found fascinating.
Dianne No, I don’t think the milk was recorded then, Sandra. It was sort of, you know, by eye so to speak. It became much more technical. Probably in the ‘70’s, but I’d left the farm by then. But, you know, you always knew Grandad, Grandpa and Dad always knew roughly what a cow was producing, but it certainly wasn’t recorded at that time, and not to my knowledge anyway.
Margaret What happened to the milk once it had gone through the dairy?
Dianne Ah, it was kept in churns overnight and in the morning it was taken either by van or a Landover, down to the milk stands, which was opposite the Womens’ Institute Hall. That of course hadn’t been built until about 1960.
Sandra It was opposite the pub wasn’t it?
Dianne That’s right, and Buckingham’s I think, I think it was Buckingham’s, would collect it and take it to the Isle of Wight creameries. We had to make sure we had it there by a certain time, but if you got it there too early on a hot day, you were in trouble, so you know, you had to get it down there just in time, basically.
Margaret How long would you have used churns? Did eventually the lorry come up to the farm?
Dianne No. The lorry never came up to the farm. I don’t know the reason why, but it didn’t.
Margaret So you used churns then, the whole time you had dairy cows.
Dianne Oh yes, churns were used all the way through, mm.
Margaret What sort of acreage was Lambslees?
Sandra 175 acres.
Dianne Yes, about 175 acres, that’s right, yes. But it was very poor land. It was marsh in places. Always the field name, the farthest field, was always known as Mesh. Not quite sure how that came about, but Grandpa and Mum always called it Mesh.
Sandra? Was that short for marshland, I don’t know.
Dianne I think so, yes, I think so.
Sandra It was just marshland and gorse and reeds.
Dianne But you couldn’t really keep the animals out over winter there because it was just so wet and sticky. It was always lovely to see the cows go out in late March, early April. It was like a celebration really. Always exciting just to see them sort of run about really.
Sandra Tails up and off they went.
Dianne Tails off and off they went, that’s it, lovely.
Margaret You mentioned your grandfather farming there,and your great-grandfather also?
Dianne Yes and our great-great-grandfather.
Margaret Which would take us back to when?
Dianne Oh, about 1860. The new farm at Lambslees, the new farmhouse, was built somewhere between 1851 and 1861. The old farmhouse prior to that, had been down really very near the river, opposite Locks Copse, but the family had also been farming Elmsworth and Northclose. Northclose is not mentioned on modern day maps. It was obviously part of Elmsworth latterly, and yes, our great-great-great-grandfather was farming at Elmsworth. A chap called William Attril. He must have moved there properly in about 1820, so one relation or another has farmed there for a good many years, but no more.
Margaret So, was that a tenanted farm?
Dianne Yes it was.
Margaret And the owners were…?
Dianne Ah ha. Well we believe it belonged to the Swainstone Estate and then in about 1908, the Army took it over and they built a Rifle Range across it because after the Boer War, our soldiers need to learn to shoot straight and I think this was part of the reason they built it. During Sandra and my childhood, we were always reminded that we mustn’t go outside the farmyard barrier when they were firing on the Range, but there were one or two close shaves. Sandra could probably remember as well. I remember bullets whistling past as a child but we were all very good, we obeyed the instruction …
10 minutes 53 seconds
Sandra It was the one time that we did (laughs)
Dianne Yes you’re probably right there Sandra, we didn’t obey it all did we?
Sandra As kids on a farm, it was a wonderful childhood (laughs).
Dianne Skating on the ponds, when we were told specifically not to. In actual fact, as a family because Sandra and I are a family of six children, we grew up without too many scrapes. Farming is renowned for having large accidents, or lots of accidents shall we say and if you had an actual rifle range running across it, you know it was a recipe for disaster.
Sandra I think because of that rifle range and the fear of that, you know it was all instilled into us and we were very aware of danger I feel as kids
Dianne I think you’re right there Sandra, yeah. Probably too much in some cases (laughs).
Margaret Did having the Rifle Range there actually impact upon how you worked the farm at all?
Dianne Oh definitely, yes it did because you had to move the young cattle either to the far end of the farm onto, as we spoke earlier, onto mesh or the marshland or the …
Sandra On firing days,
Dianne …on firing days, that’s right, or the cattle stayed at the other end of the farm in the fields, around the buildings and so grassland management had to be pretty good. At the onset of strip grazing, I think, well certainly during the summer months, was a great help on the farm but as the herd increased, grass would become short especially in dry summers. They didn’t fire every day of the week, I can’t remember how many times, Sandra, can you?
Sandra Mainly at the weekends, cos I can always …
Dianne Oh no, no, latterly I think when we were children, it could have been three or four days a week.
Sandra Really? Yeah, I don’t remember that. All I remember is latterly at the weekends, ‘cos I can always remember we had to get up and get the cows in early at weekends.
Margaret Paul, what can you tell me about Old Park? Was that your own farm or tenanted, and what size?
Paul Well, just before I answer that question, I was born in London. My father came to the Island after the War. He’d been in Burma and was very ill and came down to the old TB Hospital at Ventnor and he made a recovery. He didn’t want to go back to London and my mother had followed down with me and then her father, my grandfather and grandmother were also down and Bunny started a small Market Garden. Bunny Whitelock was my dad and he sold veg around the Guesthouses as they opened up after the War. It soon became apparent that he needed a bit more labour about the place, so my uncle, my mum’s brother, uncle Eric and aunty Win came down and their daughter Cal and so they were all working on the Market Garden. He was fortunate in that he managed to rent Old Park Farm, which is about 150 acres, right along the south… in the Undercliff. It’s a long thin farm really bounded by the cliff and the cliff path, very little fencing along the cliff. Heavy clay, difficult farm to work but nevertheless it was quite amazing growing up there. I have a brother and a sister and I can’t remember, or didn’t understand at the time how privileged I was. We had 150 acres to go and roam around and play on and I thought every little boy and girl had the kind of freedom that I had. I didn’t realise that that wasn’t in fact so. So yes, that’s how we started at Old Park.
15 minutes 48 seconds
Margaret And did you gradually go into stock, or arable or… ?
Paul Well it was never suitable as an arable farm and Bunny had very little capital as you can imagine. He came from Walthamstow without cash but in those days, the support from the Bank was really quite good and he started breeding Ayrshire cows. He started with just a few heifers and a bull. No AI in those days, no artificial insemination and he slowly grew the herd, and my grandfather and my uncle would milk it, traditional. We fed them hay and we couldn’t keep them in, they stayed out in the summer and out in the winter. So we were totally reliant on hay. Ayrshire cows are quite tricky to feed. They don’t have the large stomachs and rumens that Friesians have and so they need quite high quality food if they’re going to yield well. So we were milking in a cow stable, I think it would hold round about 20-25 and as Sandra said, the cows would always come in in strict order. In fact, they would rush to get in and I can still remember some of the cow’s names as I’m sure that Dianne and Sandra can, but Sunshine was the boss cow and she used to come in and occupy, you know, stall number one and then then there was a funny old job, she had horns on. We dehorned our Ayrshires because they could be quite tricky to handle and they were easier to handle without horns but Ruth had a set of horns on her that you could hand a hat on and she was really quite bossy and you had to be careful with Ruth. Milked with a Alfa Laval milking machine which had the clusters sitting on top of the container, and you pushed the rubber up onto the overhead vacuum line and turned the tap on and that gave you the suction on the clusters and when you pushed the cluster up, you’d operate the button and it would suck onto the cow’s teats, having washed them and cleaned them and checked that they didn’t have mastitis of course. We used to strip them into a strip cup to check to see if there were little bumps or lumps of mastitis. That was just a tin can with a piece of slate on the top and a hole at the side and so the cows were milked. The milk was taken by hand. It was carried I suppose, about 30-40 yards up quite a long path to the dairy which was a separate building and you lifted it up into a container which was probably 5 foot, maybe even a little bit higher, off the ground and you’d tip the milk into this container and it trickled out over a cooler, an evaporator where cold water was running internally through it and the milk ran over the top of it and cooled it and it gathered back in to the churn at the bottom. And on one occasion, I can remember (laughs), we’d been given … my grandmother had been given some goose eggs. Turned out to be Chinese geese and three of these goslings hatched out but only one survived and he was really quite a nasty old bird. My grandmother, granny Whitelock, could handle him easily, but she … he was quite naughty and he would run up behind you and at the last minute, peck you. If you’ve ever been pecked by a goose, particularly in a soft and delicate place, I can tell you it’s quite a shock. In fact the lorry drivers delivering the food were all in fear of ‘Gossy’ as he was known to us, and my mum on this particular occasion was carrying the milk from the cow shed to the dairy and she was bitten somewhat painfully on the inner thigh by this wretched goose and of course the milk was spilled and mum was in disarray and the whole thing was quite, quite funny, yes, some of my early memories.
Margaret What sort of yield did you have?
Paul Well those cows, unlike Di, we were recording the cows and feeding them according to their milk production, trying to get as much out of them as we could because in those days we were paid for producing butter fat and solids not fat and so we wanted the rich creamy milk and we wanted as much of it as we could get and so as I said, we were feeding them quite heavily, but good quality food and concentrates. I mean an Ayrshire could give four gallons a day and maybe a bit more, just depending on which stage of her lactation she was in, but they were good cows.
Margaret You mentioned when the farmhouse was built, can you tell me a bit about it? How your mother cooked, what sort of equipment she had?
Sandra When the new farmhouse was built, it started off as the typical farmhouse, the two windows each side of the front door and I believe there were buildings out the back. The kitchen and the dairy were sort of linked to it and then later on more was added to the farmhouse which was the huge kitchen that we had because the kitchen I remember was two storied. It had the beam across and it had the irons for hanging all the bacon and things and also a huge oven in the …
Dianne It was bricked up wasn’t it?
Sandra It was bricked up in our time but originally there was a bread oven in behind, but my first memories are of an Aga in the fireplace in the kitchen and that was used for cooking wasn’t it?
Dianne Yes, I think you’re right. I think I remember …
Sandra The old stone sink in the kitchen.
Dianne That’s right with a pump. An old pink painted pump. Somewhere in the yard or just outside, there was a spring …
Sandra ‘Cos there was wells in the garden, wasn’t there?
Dianne That’s right. We used to source the water from. I think I can remember when the Aga went in. I was probably just a little girl and I’ve got a feeling before then, they would have been cooking on granny’s paraffin stove.
Sandra You’re joking!
Paul I remember granny’s paraffin stove.
Dianne Which only had four burners. Well it certainly went from the farm to Brook Glen when they moved there in, what, about 1957-58?
Paul I remember that stove.
Dianne When dad and mum took the farm on properly, which was about the same time as we then increased the dairy herd gradually. Paul was saying about recording the milk. Ours wasn’t high tech as I’ve mentioned before but there was a big bucket, can you remember it Sandra? Inside it, it had the measurements in gallons and I think it took four gallons of milk.
Dianne So we had a rough idea of what the cows were producing. Anyway, back to the cooking. There certainly wasn’t a washing machine until the ‘50’s … no …
Sandra No we didn’t have electricity until 1960 ‘cos …
Dianne That’s right, gosh!
Sandra … we always went up to bed by candlelight or little lanterns, the Aladdin lanterns, the old stone hot water bottles. Frost in the attic roofs in the morning inside.
Dianne That’s right. It was very cold.
Sandra And bats in the summer weren’t there.
Dianne But we were trusted weren’t we because the four older ones, well Fiona and Alistair hadn’t been born. Fiona was born in 1960 and Alistair in 1965.
Sandra And that’s when mum had her washing machine. We had just had the electric and she had …
Dianne Yes, that’s right. It was a Thorn and it had pedals at the front and it was a top loader, if I remember rightly.
Margaret So before the electricity and machines, do you remember how the washing was done?
Sandra I can remember the old wringer out in the back yard and the galvanised bath for putting the washing in.
Dianne There’s a wringer and I think it was as heavy as that. Gosh, good grief. But where did they dry them?
Sandra I can always remember … well out on the line, wasn’t it?
Dianne Well yeah, but when the weather was good.
Sandra And granny’s old iron that she used to spit on first to the do the ironing, that’s what I remember. I can still smell the smells of laundry.
Margaret So did you have particular jobs to do around the house and farm or did you all sort of muck in?
Sandra I suppose I got the best draw really. I did inside the farmhouse didn’t I? You two older ones, you and Neil were busy outside and I did the cleaning in the farmhouse.
Dianne Yes, we were always outside.
Sandra But then mum, she worked outside all the time didn’t she, with dad, so everybody sort of chipped in but I seem to remember from the age of 8 or 9, cleaning the farmhouse was my task.
Dianne Oh the flagstone floor, Sandra, I remember scrubbing that a time or two.
Sandra Yeah, that was my job. I can always remember the weekends when we weren’t at school. I’d start at the top up in the attics and work my way down and ended up with the flagstone floor to scour. Gosh that was cold.
Dianne I used to occasionally help with the housework but mainly outside.
Sandra You were outside, the older two. You were helping outside because you were bigger.
Dianne Yes I guess so, yeah.
Sandra And then when the little ones came along, I was sort of looking after them while mum was back out helping dad.
Margaret So what sort of jobs did you do Dianne outside?
Dianne Mainly dairy and cleaning out the stables. After the winter, the calves would obviously be young calves. They would probably be coming up for six months, nine months, probably a year, they would go out …
Sandra Because they were all weaned off weren’t they and we fed them by bucket didn’t we so that the milk…
Dianne Weaned off after a few days.
Sandra Yes because we … that’s a job we used to do, feeding the calves, mixing up the…
Dianne Used to help granny do that. Can you remember in the big old barn, one side of it had what we used to call calf stable with the wooden loft above it and the stalls for the calves were made of wood and they probably had like a concrete trough and …
Paul Sorry about the interruption.
Sandra She was describing all about the calf stable wasn’t she? Yes, I do remember feeding the calves out the buckets and as I was saying, the hay was stored in the loft above and we used to throw it over to feed the …
Margaret Did you ever have any other stock apart from the cows?
Sandra Yes, there were chickens. Yes, of course on a farm always chickens. One of my first memories is going round with granny. I mean, typical granny with her old sack apron and all the old farm building were just made of wood and they were all dilapidated by then and the hens used to lay eggs anywhere and it was great fun to go and collect the eggs. There were also pigs, because there were the old fashioned pig sties built into the farm. I can remember large whites and Wessex. Also, as Paul said, there was always a bull on the farm because of course AI was only in its early stages then, late ‘50’s, so there was a bull pen, another place which we were told to keep away from which we did. Yes, so cattle, a few pigs, hens, that was about it. No ploughing in those days, I can’t remember ploughing being done. I can always remember hay making though, ‘cos it was just producing grass and hay for the dairy herd, self-sufficient almost.
30 minutes 18 seconds
Margaret And would you have helped with haymaking or would you have been too young?
Sandra I was too small but I do remember sitting on my grandad’s knee on the old Fordson tractor, bouncing up and down on the old spring seat, the old metal seat.
Paul And the TVO and sweat.
Sandra Oh, the TVO tank. I can still …
Paul TVO and sweat is what I remember from those early memories.
Sandra And when the tractors weren’t in use, I can remember as kids we used to love and go and sit on the seat and bounce on it, you know the old metal … yeah I can remember going out into the fields and they were grass cutting and the old turners would come in, the first with four or five wheels on to turn the grass.
Margaret Was it then baled?
Sandra Yeah, I don’t remember it before baling but I do remember all the excitement of the new David Brown baler that was bought. That must have been early ‘60’s ‘cos dad had a David Brown tractor. He was really proud of that, brand new and we had a baler and I think it was different to the usual balers because it was a side baler. The bales would come out of the side instead of the back and it was fascinating as kids to watch that. I can remember back before the balers. It’s coming back now, I can remember the old elevator that was used for the hay to go up onto the top of the ricks and I can always remember it being stuck outside shop, as we used to call it, grandad’s workshop, and it would never go and I can always remember the frustration and the swearing trying to get this elevator going each year. So that’s a memory so it was just brought in from the fields and made in to ricks. And another thing for, you see memories come back when you start talking, is cutting the ricks later on. My mum was brilliant at it. They had the special knives and they used to cut it like squares, start … you know it fascinated me because it would then be stepped, you know to get from the top and down and it must have been sharp, those implements because it was always so neatly cut down.
Margaret What sort of tradesmen would come to you at the farm?
Sandra Well, being in doors most of the time, because I still only quite small then, the one I remember (laughs) was dear old Mr Faulkner. I think he worked for McLeod’s or something. I remember he used to come and mum used to order box loads of these huge bars of soap and also tea. I’m talking about … because I didn’t know about the farming side. This is just what we used in the farmhouse and I can remember him coming about twice a year and mum ordering and get these box loads of soap and McLeod’s tea. I wasn’t aware of the tradesmen for the outside.
Margaret How about getting to school from back at the farm. How did you do that?
Sandra Well out at Porchfield, we had the little village … it was a van wasn’t it, a bus come van. We used to walk down lanes, a 5 or 10 minute walk and wait down in the village opposite the Pub, opposite the Sportsman’s and we’d be picked up by I think it was an Isle of Wight Council van in those days. I remember it was driven by Mr Barns. We always remember him and we were then taken to Gurnard Primary School. That went on until I was about 10 or 11. I always remember Mr Barns with great affection because on a Wednesday afternoon, he used to drop me off at my gran’s place in the village, at Brook Glen in the village and I’d have my knitting lessons. A little childhood memory (laughs). After that it was school buses. We’d catch the school bus to Cowes.
34 minutes 51 seconds
Margaret Did you find that there were a lot of farming children at the school?
Sandra Quite a few. It’s a job to say really. No, it’s a job to say. I don’t really know the ratio because we went to Gurnard so I suppose it was kids from outlying … I mean Porchfield was the extreme of the bus I think and then there was Thorness, Rolls Hill, Marks Corner, so yeah, there would have been a bus load of us. But not all of us were from the farms. Some were from the village.
Margaret Did you eventually go to Young Farmers’ at all?
Sandra Yeah, I did but never as seriously as Dianne did. Use to go along with her. Younger sister dragged along, you know? It was somewhere to go. It was the only place to go really. I can remember going to the first Young Farmers’ Dinner and Dance. I think we all … Dianne went. I must have only been about 12 or 13, it was so different to me (laughs). I can always remember mum and dad dressing up. They used to dress up one or two occasions a year for the NFU Dinner Dance or the Ayrshire Society Dinner and Dance. That used to be great excitement you know …
Paul Yes, Cattle Breeders …
Sandra … because those days instead of staying up at the farm overnight when they would be out, we were sent down to grandparents in the village at Brook Glen for the night and that used to be great fun for us as kids because I think there were about 3 or 4 of us in an old brass feather bed (laughs). Memories.
Margaret What can you tell me about the Markets or the wild life on the farm?
Sandra Tuesday was Market Day. I can remember we often used to go in. I mean I still think of (laughs) Morrison’s as Market Place. It’s funny isn’t it? You just never forget, that stays in your mind because it was a fantastic place. It was a small country market and it was wonderful. The animals penned in, the Auctioneers, we used to love going. I suppose it must have been school holiday time we went in with dad on a Tuesday to the Market ‘cos there was quite often something to be sold.
Dianne Talking about that Sandra, we used to sit in the back. Can you remember sitting in the back of the van or the Landover with the little bull calves that used to have to go Market and they were about a few days old?
Sandra Yes, that’s right. We used to hold onto them didn’t we?
Dianne Well not too long …
Sandra No just for the journey in.
Dianne Oh yes. Milk churns one side, calves the other, and you’re right, we held onto the calves, or the churns, or ourselves.
Sandra Yes because after a while they didn’t collect the milk churns. Dad had to take them in himself didn’t he, into the Creameries. Do you remember the Isle of Wight Creameries? Use to fascinate me.
Dianne Oh, the Isle of Wight Creameries, oh yes, with the big white tanker lorries that used to come over to collect the milk and we used to get bored sitting in the back of the Landover or the van and we used to watch the tankers fill up or be cleaned and they all had names. Can you remember that?
Dianne A busy area, the Creameries if I remember rightly. Do you remember that Paul?
Paul Dad probably had to take the churns in because by then they had gone to bulk tanks and that’s probably the reason …
Sandra That’s right and the outlying farms or the farms that weren’t big enough we had to take our own milk in because they come and collect, that’s right.
Paul … the smaller farms you took the churns in.
Margaret So would you have had swallows and owls in your barn or hares in the field or …?
Sandra Oh yes, we had a rich … didn’t we?
Dianne Oh yes.
Dianne I remember the barn in Lower Stable … it again had calves in over the winter, and I had to go up the wooden ladder to get some hay down for the calves and I can remember being frightened rigid because there were two eyes looking at me and I can only believe that it was an owl. It was quite common to have the barn owls around the farm buildings. It lent itself wonderfully to that.
40 minutes 6 seconds
Sandra Always cuckoos, wasn’t there? Oh, the cuckoos, swallows, swifts …
Sandra … loads of sparrows.
Dianne And hares, can you remember the hares? They were round the rick yard because it could be quite overgrown, there was quite a lot of hay around of course and the hares I know lived there. Lots of rabbits of course but they would come and go because of that dreadful myxomatosis disease. That was our staple diet as a child, rabbit pie.
Sandra Pheasant at Christmas.
Dianne Yes, or at other times. Used to be fascinated. The kitchen table was covered in lots of newspaper and we used to sit around. My grandpa or dad used to butcher the hare really, take it’s innards out.
Sandra The rabbits, yes.
Dianne The rabbits, yes, sorry, rabbits not hare. And the pheasants.
Sandra Yes, I can remember watching granny skin the rabbits.
Dianne Oh, did granny skin the rabbits as well. I can’t remember that.
Sandra Yes and of course we all used to muck in and help pluck the pheasants and of course wood pigeons, they were part of our diet. Always had a roast wood pigeon each on a plate. Can you not remember that?
Dianne I can remember pigeon, not much meat on a pigeon though Sandra was there? Can you remember it was a bit disappointing.
Sandra We did in the winter, yeah. The breast of a pigeon.
Dianne But I always have a vision of granny coming out of the stable with her hat on which was made from a parachute, which was obviously a silk parachute that was thrown down during the Second World War, and her old twill Land Army coat on, covered in feathers because she’d been preparing birds, ready to give some. I guess she gave them to people in the village, either as a thank you or just as a Christmas present. I do remember that was a ritual every year for a while. Can you remember Sandra, grandpa when he was milking the cows when we were really small, especially on a Sunday because he could be quite religious, and he would sing, ‘Abide with me’? We sang to the cows and I guess too, in the ‘60’s, I remember our cousin Derek, it was his excuse to have the radio on. He thought the cows would milk better if they could hear the radio. It was supposed to …
Sandra Well they do say that don’t they? (laughs).
Dianne Well they did. I expect it was an old wives tale. Did you ever milk the cows with the radio on Paul?
Paul Not with the radio on, no. It was usually two of us milking the cows, because the time I can remember was ’58, ’59, ’60 dad was milking quite a lot of cows. We’d really grown the herd by then and so there were two milking cows and my job generally was to wash the teats and make sure that they … and dry the udders and check for the mastitis and uncle Eric was a good milker with lovely patient gentle man who almost soothing to the cows. The cows were calm and because of that, yielded well. He would put the clusters on and take them off and I would run up and down and in those days we used udder cream that we used to rub in to keep the supple and stopping them …
Sandra You saying that …
Dianne It made very good hand cream.
Sandra … I can remember doing that for Dianne. I can remember ‘cos we used to go out and milk together sometimes at the weekend. I can remember washing the cows down first and then you deal with all that and then I’d do the udder cream afterwards and I also remember of course you had to go along with the shovel if one of them intervened as well while milking was going on and making sure everything was kept clean. I can remember, yeah, yielding the shovel, shovelling the shit.
44 minutes 55 seconds
Paul Tied in head first, against the trough, and of course when they came in they were given their concentrate and bits and pieces and you’d just get them nice and clean and then a load of poo or urine used to come down and you’d have to start again. And that was then all in … there was a gutter and we used to have a number 7 shovel, which is quite a large shovel, and swoosh it down the gutter and then …
Sandra Which was lower down ‘cos they stepped up, that’s right. It fitted the gutter, yeah (laughs). Hose it down.
Dianne And that all used to go into a pit at the end.
Paul And then carrying the milk up to the dairy. I could barely carry it a can of milk but I used to. I couldn’t tip it into the tank, it was too heavy.
Dianne No, I remember when I started milking I couldn’t lift the milk into the can …
Sandra Those buckets were heavy.
Dianne Very, very, heavy.
Paul I don’t know if you did but we had a toad, as a small boy he fascinated me, a big toad, a great big toad. There was a drain that ran out of the dairy and he used to live in there. I used to put my hand in and hook him out occasionally. He was a great big boy, he really was.
Dianne Yes, they used to live in the drain outside the stable.
Sandra It used to run through. There was a gap wasn’t there and then it would all fall down into the drain.
Dianne That’s right, you had to be very careful because it used to get blocked and you find toads or frogs there.
Sandra Oh, yuk!
Dianne And of course there were unspeakable rats at certain times of the year which were not funny but there you are.
Margaret Would any of you helped with calving or …?
Paul Oh later on, yes. We had … at one point there were between 80 and 100 cows on the farm and of course the heifers were usually put to either an Aberdeen Angus bull or maybe a Hereford bull because they would calve that little bit easier. The calves were smaller and easier to get out and there was never much value in an Ayrshire bull calf.
Dianne They used to cross them with Aberdeen Angus was a favourite with the Ayrshire if I remember rightly.
Sandra Yes, ‘cos it was a smaller breed.
Dianne That’s right. Certainly for the first calf.
Sandra Herefords they used to cross with the bigger Friesians later didn’t they and you’d get the black with the white faces.
Paul Most of the cows used to calve quite naturally, you never had any problem with them.
Dianne Oh Sandra, do you remember Alice? We had one particular cow she was a Red Poll Cross. Quite a character and we knew every time she was due to calve she’d go and stick her backside into the corner and we had … it was our job … dad dealt with most of the calving, when we were quite young. He used to have to go continually move her around so that if she needed some assistance he could, you know, be able to help her. Yes, we used to help with the calving. Tried not to interfere with it but if the calf was …
Sandra Dad was brilliant wasn’t he?
Dianne … usually dad was always very good with it.
Sandra We always said he should have been a Vet (laughs).
Dianne Yeah, he was a good Stockman from that point of view, he really was. I remember one day that had gone to Newport for some reason, and another cow, Brownie, she was a Guernsey cross. I think she actually looked a bit like a Jersey as well. She always calved no problem at all and I was left to look after her and just go and check her from time to time. Well out popped one calf and I thought she’s still uncomfortable, the afterbirth hadn’t come away. Uh oh, what’s going on here? Out popped another calf (laughs), much to my surprise. Luckily it was trouble free so I just made sure she was with … you know the calves were with mum and the mucus was clear from their noses and mouths and let them get on with it. Yes, occasionally you had to have the Vet out, but dad …
Sandra Usually in the middle of the night. Can you remember as kids after they’d calved, hearing them down in the kitchen with the whisky bottle out (laughs).
Paul Of course the Vet was very expensive and you used to try and avoid it if you could but …
Dianne If you could, but sometimes, yeah.
Paul … and if you could get the calf away and get round to mum so she could lick it, generally speaking they’d come back. Of course the little ones, the heifers, you’d want to rear for replacements and that was my mum’s job.
Dianne She looked after the heifers there.
Paul There’s something special about a woman rearing calves I think. There is a natural affinity there.
Sandra Yes, you’re right there. Weaning calves is a lovely thing to do. You get them to take the milk from the bucket. Mind you they chew your fingers.
Paul I loved that feeling of the calves …
Sandra Quite rough the tongue wasn’t it?
Paul It could be. And you get them going and I think back, if you remember the calves pens and bits and pieces as they grew up, so the manure would rise and they’d be bedded down on top of it sort of like a deep litter situation and of course when it came to the spring …
Sandra Oh, that chore was horrible.
Paul … you would end up having to cut out, something like, I don’t know, four foot, maybe even four foot six of compacted …
Dianne Soul destroying job if you were doing it on your own,difficult.
Paul And dragging it out by yourself …
Sandra Barrow load by barrow load, tipping it over the old dung heap, oh …(laughs). I do remember that too.
Paul When I was, well from 10 onwards, I suppose I was considered to be big enough to use the fork and cart the flipping muck out (laughs). I’m sure it didn’t so your back any good or you … heavy manual work that was.
Dianne I can remember when there were jobs to be done outside and they had to be done, we all used to just go out there and muck in, didn’t we? The youngest would have the lightest jobs and … it was still hard work.
Sandra Certainly haymaking time.
Paul Haymaking was like that. I mean it used to take them, and my father finally trusted me with the Ferguson. We had a little Fergie T20 and also a Massey-Ferguson 35 with a four later on but that was quite a bit later but the Fergie T20 was a great tractor, very light but super for mowing with and we used to have the reciprocating finger mower, so it had diamond type shaped cutting blades that you had to sharpen by hand and the whole section was called a knife and it would be, I don’t know, maybe 30 of these little diamond sharp edged cutting blades. Some would get broken and you’d have to cut them off and re-rivet them on …
Dianne That’s right. Grandpa was responsible for that …
Sandra In his shed.
Dianne That’s right.
Sandra Put it in the vice.
Paul Well we had five knives for the mower and before I went out, and I talking out at 6 o’clock in the morning to take five sharp knives with you. And so you take five sharp knives out and we would mow, or I would mow, until about 11 o’clock and stop for a cup of tea and I I’d quickly touch up a blade or two, just quickly with a portable vice, and then mow again until lunchtime and at lunchtime, properly sharpen two or three blades so you worked while you were having your lunch. You were sharpening the blades prior to getting back on the tractor. The tractor used to get so hot that you could light your cigarette off the manifold. It was a petrol TVO tractor and, yes, absolutely …
Sandra Health and Safety (laughs).
Dianne You weren’t smoking then Paul were you at that young age?
Paul Well no, not quite.
Dianne I remember the old Fordson tractor with the bouncy seat, sitting on the tool box which was on the right hand side of the steering wheel because grandpa was responsible for raking in the hay when we were still making hay ricks and that was great honour, sitting there and smelling of TVO and petrol and sweat basically. Fond memories,freedom.
Paul Long hard days, absolutely bone tired at the end of it but satisfying because you maybe mowed 20 acres. I mean today they go out and in an hour, they mow 20 acres, but then it was a good solid hard day’s work to mow 20 acres.
Sandra Blink and it’s done, isn’t it today?
Paul And then of course you’d turn it and so one and the baler. Oh, the baler.
Sandra Always breaking down. The string.
Paul Usually the knotters. Usually the string. Sometimes you would get a bad batch of string and it just would not … the knotters would not work and it would know on one side and not the other and so when it came out the back you had …
Sandra It was so complicated. You had your curved bales.
Paul And you know you’ve got to be careful with a baler. It’s got a power take off and everything is whirring round and so on. A very dangerous machine but we used to take these broken bales and feed them back through the baler, all highly naughty and illegal really and would be frowned upon today. You think of what we used to do.
Sandra No guards on them, just …
Paul Well, rudimentary. So quite a dangerous time as well. It was not unusual to have a little fire.
Dianne Talking of that, we used to have an elevator when we were bringing the hay in, when we were making ricks so I’m thinking back probably early ‘50’s again? Middle ‘50’s, there was an elevator with a big belt on it. Obviously there was a motorised engine at one side to turn this thing and it had no guards on it whatsoever. We were again told not to go near it, but this belt was quite wobbly. It looked as though it could fly off at any time and there used to be a couple of chaps on top building the rick and grandpa was definitely in charge because he’d been building ricks for quite a while, and then he used to finish it off at the end.
Paul And if you remember Di, the chaps taking it off, they didn’t want the hay coming up too quick so the poor bloke down the bottom, sitting on top of the trailer, shovelling or forking it …
Dianne Or sending it up the elevator.
Paul … he had to put it up at the right time and the language could be quite blue if he got it wrong and swamped them.
Dianne But I guess, and you know it was quite a craft to get it right, you know to build it properly.
Sandra It was an art.
Paul It was also an art with picking up the hay out the field on the trailers that had been baled. Two of you with a pitch fork each, one on each end of the bale, when the load got high, pitching them up high and if you were putting them up too quick, you know it would only take a foot on a bale and knock one off and you very soon slowed down because you realised he was going to knock ‘em off if you gave them to him too fast. And there was an economy of labour in picking those, and it was manual labour and you’d put your pitch fork in at a certain angle in order to be able to bend it over you knee, drive the butt of the pitch fork into the ground and then lift it and then put it up onto the trailer. It was an art, and if you hadn’t been brought up to it, you could do it buy you’d end up working very hard doing it.
Dianne Neil could do that. We didn’t do that. We could roll the bales up …
Sandra We were rolling the bales into stacks.
Dianne … or if we were very good, and we felt trusted, we could actually drive the tractor. I remember driving the tractor, especially at muck spreading time when we used to put it up on the trailer and we had a chap working with us on the farm at that time called Tony Murray, he came from the village, and Tony would be knocking off the heaps of muck on the field in the autumn, and I’d be driving the tractor round and it was quite a responsible job because you had to get it just about right, otherwise Tony would tell you off (laughs).
Sandra He was only a year or two older than you (laughs).
Dianne I was all of about eight or ten, but there you go. We had to behave responsibly.
Paul You’re absolutely right. There was lots and lots of dangers and the belt was one, the power take off on the tractors or any machinery in the field. We were always taught that you go to the gate, and you go into the field and make sure that whoever is driving the tractor had seen you before going up to them, because it was very dangerous. Adding to the fact that we also quite steep cliffs (laughs) and the cattle used to … they delighted in trying to get out of the wind and so on. They would go down some pretty steep old places because there was always a bit of sweeter grass down there and would they come up? No. I wasn’t supposed to, but I used to go down and get them.
60 minutes 6 seconds
Dianne Now can you remember the winter of … when was it? ’63? Yes, that’s right. Gosh!
Paul I was working for Albert Steadman at Kingsbury Farm. I was doing a year’s practical work prior to going to Agricultural College and I’d been working down there and I’d ridden … in those days my pride and joy was a bicycle, a good bike, a racing bike, light, and I’d ridden from St Lawrence to Kingston and got there in the morning and fed the pigs as I normally did and then fed the chickens and found the chaps and they were riddling spuds and we riddled spuds until lunchtime, had a bite to eat. It started to snow a bit, didn’t take a lot of notice and then we riddles some more spuds and by the middle of the afternoon, it was laying quite thick and Derek, his son said to me, “Happen we’d better get off lad” so off I get on me bicycle and I get out the farmyard and up to the main road where it runs on from Chillerton to Chale and it was absolutely full of snow. The snow had been blown off the fields and it all drifted into the roads. There was no way I could get along. Anyway, I went back to the farm and Derek, who is quite a fierce sort of Yorkshireman, he looked at me and said, “Happen you better come with me lad int Landover” so we get int Landover and of we’d go and he was banging along like … going far too quickly, and he’s trying to charge these drifts that were forming across the road, and eventually he managed to jack the front wheels off the ground and we were going no further. And that was it. I stayed there for a fortnight , couldn’t get home.
Paul The Council had rung up Mr Steadman, the Old Man as we called him, and said … I think the money he was paid was 35s 6d an hour and would he start digging towards Chale with his foreloader (laughs). And we had the tractor and foreloader going virtually day and night for that sort of money (laughs). And as fast as we dug the snow out, and it’s not easy with a foreloader ‘cos all you could do was dig and then turn the tractor and drop it over the top. It was being blown back in again so you’d dig yourself into a hole and then you’d have to turn yourself round and dig yourself out so you could go home. I mean it was ridiculous. We weren’t going anywhere. It wasn’t that it snowed very much more, it didn’t, but we had a huge dollop …
Dianne It just drifted about didn’t it?
Paul … and they eventually got me some digs at Keepers Cottage, which is near Emmett Hill, and Mr Green ran the pub and I used to walk down there ‘cos I was smoking in those days …
Sandra Was that the Star at Chale?
Paul … walked down to the Star and I’d have half a pint and pick up some rolling tobacco, and I could walk along where the hedge was and run my hand down the telephone wire which really … absolutely full of snow. Never seen snow like it.
Sandra I can remember dad, ‘cos he eventually took pictures of the cattle ‘cos some of the cattle were still out.
Dianne Oh mum was extremely worried. The morning we woke up and her first priority was to go and see the cattle, the young stock that were still out …
Sandra And they were in a cave …
Dianne … down near Mesh, weren’t they?
Sandra … they were right the way across
Dianne But they were in 10 acres Calvesground Corner weren’t they?
Sandra And it sort of formed a cave over them hadn’t it?
Dianne A bit like an igloo and they were all huddled in there, no worse for wear, which was marvellous, but the cows were a different story. Constantly, obviously they needed water, we were milking cows…
Sandra Everything was frozen …
Dianne …so we had to thaw out the pipes with the blow lamps …
Sandra … or hosepipe. Oh it was a nightmare really.
Dianne It was a nightmare. The only thing that wasn’t a nightmare was cooling the milk because you just put the churns in the snow in the yard and that was fine. But it was so cold, you know it was freezing.
64 minutes 55 seconds
Paul There were no cows at Kingston Manor and Derek had another farm called Billingham and he had pigs there, and we had … the frost got into the pipework and of course froze everything up and we had one tap that was working and so you’d get a bale of straw in the morning and you’d get a little bit of diesel and you’d chuck a bit of straw around the pipe and thaw it out. And after a while that didn’t work and so you would dig down to get the frosty soil out of the way but we had whole lot of stand pipe that was going on for two foot six deep, you know and it was the only pipe on the farm and taking water to the pigs and making sure they had enough was oh, something like a two and a half, three hour manual job with buckets.
Sandra It was so cold it was freezing over virtually again wasn’t it?
Paul It was a huge job, morning and afternoon. Very, very, difficult and very cold.
Dianne Sandra, can you remember people from the village, you know from Porchfield needed to do some shopping and of course the buses weren’t working, and dad had one of those old fashioned trailer muck spreaders so he put it on the back of the tractor and asked if anyone wanted to go into Newport when he took the churns in.
Paul Of course he cleaned it out first, didn’t he (laughs).
Dianne Oh I don’t know about that. It was probably frozen.
Sandra They were quite happy to jump in muck spreader and go to Newport, yes. I do remember that.
Paul My dad eventually broke through and picked me up and as I say I hadn’t been home for a fortnight, quite amazing.
Dianne I don’t think I washed for a fortnight. I wore the same clothes it was so cold at Lambslee.
Paul Well bearing in mind I only had the clothes I stood up in (laughs). It was a question of air and turn.
Dianne I don’t think mine ever got turned, but never mind. The cattle got looked after, that was the main thing.
Margaret So how did you manage with the milk? You were milking but then not able to get off the farm?
Dianne Do you know I can’t remember properly.
Sandra I do know at a later stage, as I say, dad used to take it in the tractor and the muck spreader.
Dianne I think it was two or three days before …
Sandra We were actually snowed in.
Dianne I don’t know.
Paul Well you probably lost it.
Sandra We just distributed it around the village I think.
Dianne We must have lost some of it Sandra.
Paul Fed the pigs with it and …
Sandra That’s right Paul,fed the pigs with it because we did have pigs as well.
Dianne But I don’t know if we had pigs at that time Sandra. I can’t remember.
Sandra Yes, we always had two or three pigs, Ann. I seem to remember two or three pigs there most of the time, only because one of my jobs was feeding them. I used to love mixing up their swill with the milk, that’s it or the milk from the first three of four days …
Dianne Or vegetables was good enough. Definitely not now.
Paul We used to feed the pigs … Derek’s pigs were fed on the … use to buy it in.
Sandra Sort of an oat meal sort of meal stuff wasn’t it you mixed it with milk.
Paul Yes, and you’d mix it with whey that had come from the butter making. You could buy it back from the Creamery. Always a bit stinky but boy did the pigs go on it, they did very well on it. ‘Course they had sheep there and I learnt … it was my first experience with sheep, never had anything to do with them but I learnt quite a lot about sheep and lambing which stood me in good stead because having lambed at Kingston with Barry, when I went to the Farm Institute, they had over 300 ewes there to lamb, that was Easter time and they’d asked for students with lambing experience to put their names forward and I was the only one.
Dianne Gosh, so you were shepherd for a year were you?
Paul Only one at the Farm Institute can you believe that had lambed any ewes so I worked on the ewes.
Dianne We had lambs at Lamblees later, after, long after I had left the farm. Can you remember Sandra when dad had the sheep?
Sandra Yes, that was more or less after I had left as well. I think things were changing, things weren’t paying so they just swopped over and tried something else.
Dianne That’s it and they had the beef animals and started to breed …
Sandra They went from fairy to beef didn’t they …
Dianne … and started to breed the Herefords …
Sandra … yes because it was Aberdeen Angus first wasn’t it and then the Herefords.
Paul But you still had a horse on the farm. Our horse, I can remember right at the beginning, we had the sweep and the hay rake and do you remember the big brush that they used to sweep the hay up with? Maybe you don’t.
Sandra Yes, the sweep. I do remember the sweep.
Dianne I do. We had a sweep. We just had forks out front.
Paul We had a hay rake as well. And the horse, I just have a vague childhood memory of the horse but he’d gone by the time I was there and horse drawn implements had been converted to draw behind the tractor. I mention it because I know that you had …
Sandra That’s correct, yes. We still had a horse …
Dianne We still had Judy and it was lovely because I was the eldest and I used to … we were living at the farm then with grandpa and granny and we were living then for … I was born in 1947 and that would have been about 1957, 1958. So I must have been about three or four and I used to go with grandpa in the morning and look after Judy, who lived in the Lower Stable and we used to groom her and feed her and make sure she was watered and then put her harness on ‘cos she at that stage was doing light duties. I think during the War she did other duties. We might have some photographic evidence of that still lying around but it was definitely light duties and that was during hay making time and she would pull the cart of the hay back into the farmyard.
Paul And of course the clever thing about a horse is that you don’t need somebody to drive it when it’s hay making time because they know, they just move up don’t they? You know you walk ahead and the horse sort of moves the cart along and …
Dianne She was lovely. I used to be able to sit on her back and hold onto to her greasy mane but she was a lovely docile … I want to call her a pet but of course she wasn’t, she was a working horse. Fond memories. I feel very privileged to have been there at that time because it was right at the end of horses on the farm, or working horses on the farm anyway.
Paul There was huge change going on. The mechanisation was just starting to come in and I mean to have a tractor with a forloader in the ‘60’s was quite something.
Sandra Oh gosh, yes.
Paul My father had sold the cows by the time I’d sort of left school, and he was pig farming, a lot of pigs and a lot of manure (laughs) and I used to shovel from morning till night.
Sandra Not nice manure either was it, I seem to remember.
Dianne Runnier than cows.
Sandra Quite liquid.
Paul It is what it is.
Dianne Mid you when the cows went out to grass, it was pretty liquid as well.
Paul But the foreloader made a huge difference from the wheelbarrow and you could … it did help. But the pigs were interesting. They said they’re either … its muck or money, or where’s there’s muck there’s money and well for five or six years it was good money. Then they went into a bit of a decline and crept back out again and so it went on, but those cycles became quicker and quicker and much more difficult.
Sandra Yes, they did because there was no money was there in farming, not at all then. It was a big decline.
Paul It was a difficult time. My father … I’d gone away to Farm Institute, and when I came back, all I wanted to do was work on the farm of course and Bunny had hurt himself. He’d put … we had a big barn and it had double door, two and then two above, and one of the, what do you call it, I don’t know, the door post that hold these double doors had moved…
Dianne The trailer hit I expect.
Paul …and it had moved at the top and Bunny put a long ladder ‘cos it was quite high, extended it to its full height, climbed up it (laughs) with a sledgehammer and he’s hit the door post as hard as he could and much to his surprise, instead of going back into its socket as it was supposed to, it fell over completely and came off and knocked him off the ladder. He fell and he’d got very bad sciatica, he already had a bad back, and he had a bout of sciatica. Now at that stage we had 90 breeding sows and we were producing pork. Bunny used to look after the sows and farrow them and up ‘till they were weaners and I would take them from weaners through to the pork stage so we both had our separate jobs to do and suddenly I had it all with no help. After three days, I was so far behind with the cleaning. I could feed everything and make sure the water was clean and keep up with chores, the castrating and the injecting the little piglets and so on, but I couldn’t keep up with the cleaning and going to be in trouble. So, Bunny had rung up what was then the Labour Exchange, I think it was called, and they sent a chap out. He was a heavy smoker and we started pig cleaning together which was really just a shovel and a broom and the foreloader and you carried on with it and you put some straw down and when you finished that pen, you moved on to do another and we were already a long way behind. Well he lasted a day. He said, “Paul, I just can’t do this. How do you do it?’ So he lasted a day, we had another chap that lasted two days and eventually we found somebody that was reasonable and we kept going until Bunny was better , but it was very, very hard work and I still carry a bad back from it I think (laughs). It’s just …l as a young man, I was putting two and quarter hundredweight sacks of wheat on my shoulder. I’d be16 at Steadman’s, two and quarter hundredweight sacks of wheat. They were up at five foot or so but you’d take them and put them on your shoulder and walk them across and put them on the back of a lorry. I mean your bones aren’t even formed at that age. Manual handling …
Dianne Well you didn’t think twice about it.
Paul Well no, you were expected to keep up …
Dianne It was part of what you were doing, you were expected to be able to do it, within your limits.
Paul … do it and keep up, keep up with the blokes. I mean lifting potato sacks in the field, we used to have (laughs) … there was the ‘naughty boys school’ at Yarmouth called St Swithun’s, and they used to like to come out and pick spuds. It was good for the boys and it got them out …
Sandra Out in the fresh air, doing something physical.
Paul … out in the fresh air and my job was the little Dexter tractor with a potato spinner on the back and a Fordson Major with a trailer on the back and some hessian bags and the boys were paid a fag a bag and these were hundredweight bags. These weren’t little paper 70 pound or 56 pound bags, these were hundredweight bags. A fag a bag, Weights he used to pay, this was Albert (laughs), so I’d spin a couple of rows out, one up, one down or maybe two rows and the boys would start picking. Well, they put clods in it, they put stones in there, they’d put anything that would fill the blasted bag up and it wasn’t unusual, as you were driving the tractor, spinning some more for a spud to clang in to the mudguard (laughs) and the Master was quite hard, he had a stick, because the boys, rather that pick them up, they’d just put a heel on them and push ‘em in the ground, you know, and he used to go along with his stick and just flick ‘em out and they’d come back and pick ‘em up and they were a real education to a 16 year old. But not as much as an education as a gang of spud picking ladies, or so called ladies. Boy, I learnt a thing or two when we had them out there. They would think nothing …
Dianne Was this at Steadman’s Paul, at Kingstone?
Paul Steadman’s yes.
Sandra Where did they come from then?
Paul I don’t know.
Sandra Were they local do you think?
Paul Oh yes, pretty much so but they were rough and tough and do you know they would bend down at the beginning of the road. They had what they called ‘skeps’, which was rather like a Tesco’s plastic shopping bin coming off the back of a Tesco’s lorry and they’d bend down, skirts up round there … and they’d just pick and fill this up and tip ‘em in the sacks and they’d be thumping along, they’d hardly straighten their backs from one end of the road to the other, and of course when they wanted to relieve themselves, they went off. They didn’t bother too much to hide, they just went off to the corner of the field, and as a young man I do remember they made some dreadful remarks that still embarrass me to this day (laughs) and I wasn’t … I’m not easily embarrassed but boy they were naughty. And of course it was fine sitting on the tractor and spinning the spuds out but my other job was to pick these bags of spuds up. Now the trailer would be four foot six, five foot off the ground and the spuds weren’t all grouped in nice little bundles of five or six, there was about … there was a bag here and a bag there dotted down the field and so I’d get on the tractor, drive up to the spud, get off, lift a hundredweight up, manoeuvre it on the trailer, get back on the tractor. By the time you’d done that by the end of the day, you knew you’d picked up a few bags of spuds. And so it’s very different now.
Dianne Talking of sacks I do remember we did grow at the farm, some cereals. I think it must have been barley, Sandra, if you …
Paul You grew oats I remember in my day.
Dianne … and we were in 12 acres. I remember 12 acres in particular, nice day and we had that dinosaur of a Claas combine harvester with a sack fill, and I was … it had two chutes and you had to fill the sacks and then sort of tie them off and then throw them down … well the trailer was nearby.
Paul The chute?
Dianne No it wasn’t a chute, I think you just dropped them off. Gosh, they were heavy, off onto the trailer if I remember rightly.
Sandra It didn’t shoot it into the trailer, it shot the grain into the sacks if someone was … yes, that’s it.
Paul Tied them and then you pushed them off the combine.
Dianne That was heavy work as well.
Paul And then somebody had to come along and pick them up. We used to pick those up, and you’re right, they were heavy, two of you, and it was an old trick but it used to work very well, you’d pull the sack upright so was sitting up and one of you would have a stick and you’d put the stick across the back of the sack and the guy on the other hand would get hold of it there, so it’s about halfway down the sack, you’d bend down and grip the sack at the bottom and you could lift the sack between the two of you, one on the stick and one here and when it came to putting it on the trailer, you just pushed the stick forward and it flicked up on the trailer. As I say there was a huge amount of manual handling but those little tricks would mean that you could work like that all day and you wouldn’t hurt yourself.
Dianne I can’t remember us employing those at Lamblees can you?
Sandra It was all a new game to us wasn’t it when we started growing …
Dianne Yes, I don’t know for what reason dad started growing oats and barley …
Sandra Probably the money had gone out of dairy.
Paul No, I can tell you why Di …
Dianne Can you?
Sandra He used to come and sell the seed (laughs)
Dianne That’s true.
Paul He’d bought a mill mixer. He was mixing his own dairy feed.
Sandra Oh that’s right.
Dianne To keep the cost down.
Paul Well every bit of starch and protein you can grow on the farm yourself and not buy in of course helps to reduce your costs, and even in those days, the pressure was on milk. I mean milk is … I think they’re getting 20 pence a litre for milk at the moment, the farmers.
Sandra Less than that I believe.
Paul No, for Gold … Mr Fisk’s Gold pint, I think Michael told me its 20 pence a litre at the moment but it was a lot more than that when your dad was farming.
Sandra Yes, he was trying to up … that’s right, you’re right Paul, I remember, up the grade.
Paul And it gave you control and you would know what was going in there.
Dianne So that you didn’t have the expensive feed bills, of course.
Paul And you’d buy in such lovely things as flaked maize. Do you remember flaked maize and locust pieces …
Sandra We used to go out the stable and eat it.
Paul Decorticated cotton cake (laughs), all those lovely things, you used to mix it all up.
Sandra We used to try it.
Dianne The flaked maize was lovely.
Paul But of course that was interesting because the linseed cake came from BOCM, British Oil and Cake Mills, and British Oil and Cake Mills were Unilever and they were buying palm and squeezing it for the oil to make soap, and it was the by-products of their soap making and their other products that they were making, it was the by-products of that were being fed back to the farmers in cattle feed.
Sandra … making that went into the cattle feed.
Paul And so whilst it was imported on ships, not in containers, but in bags ‘cos the Dockers were all manual handling and so those high protein products ended up back on the farm being mixed with the cereals that you’d grown and so on and they were put through a hammer mill and a mixer and you ended up with your own … and because it was dusty, do you remember the other thing, and that was the big 45 gallon barrels of treacle? Did you have treacle?
85 minutes 23 seconds
Dianne Can’t remember those.
Paul Well, we did. We used to drip that into the feed and more particularly onto the hay to take the dust out of the hay so it made it nice and sweet for the cattle to eat.
Dianne I do remember that meal mixer thing with the great big white balloon cloth over the top to stop the dust …
Paul My dad cut himself rather badly …
Sandra Do you remember that or had you left home by then?
Dianne I think I’d probably left home by then.
Paul When we had the pigs, we had a meal mixer, and in those days it was quite normal to feed the pigs with antibiotics, or to mix antibiotics in to the pig’s feed to try and control some of the e coli and so on and so forth …
Sandra Even then (laughs)
Paul … oh yes, and of course because pigs eat a lot and the quicker you can make them grow, the less they eat. And so we were mixing tetramycin and noromycin and so on into the cattle feed and it came in big sort of 30-40 pound drums …
Dianne I remember Noromycin, yes.
Paul … and you’d take the top off and it was encased in a plastic bag and you undid it and you had a little container and you measured it out and you put it into the mill mixer that was going round, and as you put it in it would go poof and you’d get this little puff of dust would come out of the mill mixer. Nobody thought anything of it. Dad cut himself rather badly on the farm, ended up with an infection, went to the Doc, prescribed antibiotics, didn’t touch it. Went to hospital, and they found an antibiotic that worked and then realised what was going on. It was the antibiotics going through the mill mixer. When you think back, we knew nothing of the effects of those things and what was going to happen in future and now we find ourselves desperate and having to strictly control antibiotics because it could be that we won’t have anything at all to beat off bacterial infection in the future.
Sandra I didn’t realise he was using it in those days. Interesting.
Paul That was the ‘60’s. ‘65-‘66 ish.
Margaret You mentioned the Farming Institute Paul. Was that locally?
Paul No, I went to … I should have gone to Sparsholt which is the Farm Institute at … I went to Kesteven in Lincolnshire, mainly because a friend of my father’s, bit of influence there I think, and I was fortunate enough to be accepted up there. I previously attended the farm school at Freshwater here, the Pre-Agricultural School. I wanted to farm and I just didn’t like the school and I left school when I was 15 and … only just 15, I might only have been sort of late 14 and no qualifications, but I went to Freshwater and suddenly things made sense to me because people were talking about… mathematics was perhaps calculating the area of a rick of hay which I was interested in and so it became focussed on my interest which was agriculture and I got my City and Guilds Stage 1and 2 there in a year. Did a year with Mr Steadman and then went to Kesteven in 1963, the year Kennedy was assassinated. That was an eye opener (laughs). Found myself up there with 40 other students, away from home, not for the first time. I’d left home when I attended Freshwater I was in digs and suddenly learning about something that I was passionately interested in and I just thoroughly enjoyed it. I couldn’t do enough and I got a good pass and came back to farm with dad. But that wasn’t to be (laughs). By that time the pigs had been through various stages in their cycle and my father’s health was deteriorating a bit and he decided that he was going to stop. And I wanted to farm and I wanted to take the lease and I wanted to continue. We never argued about it, but he just said, “No, no, no, absolutely not, you’re not going to do it” and so I again through contacts … its strange how things worked in those days but Colin DeFue worked for Mr Waldridge. Mr Waldridge was a grain and fertilizer and seeds merchant and Colin used to call on my dad and he said, “Well your lad is a bright lad and I’m sure we can find him a job” and that’s exactly what happened. Never applied for a job but was just was given an opportunity so I went and trained … I joined Waldridge’s and they were sold almost immediately to Scats, the Southern Counties Agricultural Trading Society, and they gave me a little red mini and I was on the Isle of Wight in my little red mini remembering as you do one afternoon, I think it was a Friday afternoon, I was motoring in Porchfield and I remembered a young girl with wellie boot marks on the back of her legs (laughs) that I’d seen at one of the dances and I went up to Lamblees and renewed my acquaintance with Di and well, the rest is history as they say.
92 minutes 24 seconds
Dianne Here you are (laughs).
Margaret I was wondering how you had met.
Paul Young Farmer’s Club. I suspect I was about 14 ish. The parents knew each other from the Ayrshire Cattle Breeders.
Dianne The Ayrshire Society, yeah that’s right because we both had Ayrshires. I didn’t realise that Bunny had Ayrshires as well.
Paul Yeah, they were both breeding Ayrshires so they knew each other but Di and I were Newport Young Farmer’s Club with oh, quite a lot of others.
Dianne Especially round here, yes.
Paul And Ann and Isobel, oh so many. And in those days, the young farmers and the agricultural community and the Hunt and so one, we were all quite active. There was lots of things going on. We would have Hunt dances and Young Farmer’s dinner and dances and socials and all sorts of bits and pieces so there was rarely a month went by without you weren’t out dancing and whatever. That was good fun and the little red mini used to get all over the place.
Sandra You mentioned Waldridge’s. Now did they have their warehouse along Little London?
Paul They did.
Dianne Right down the end.
Sandra Because I can remember … used to love going down Little London. A little step back in time to collect the cattle feed or to collect the maize or whatever, yes.
Paul Well I those days, I used to put it … it didn’t come on …
Dianne Used to come up the river did it? Yeah, the Medina.
Paul … it came up the river on barges so the fertilizer used to be packed in … used to come out of Avonmouth and it was hot in the plastic bags it used to get packed in. One hundredweight plastic bags, 300 tonnes in a barge and it would arrive at Sea Close, is it Sea Close?
Paul There’s a wharf just down from there anyway and we used to go down with the Bedford TK lorries , which were seven and a half tonners and … this is before Scats or Waldridge, it’s just a little after …
Margaret Wasn’t Waldrige’s taken over by Scats?
Paul … so these seven and a half tonne Bedford TK’s were sprung … we sprung them, we put stronger springs on them so they would take11 tonnes and we put 13 tonnes on them (laughs) so when they left the quay, they would go (laughs), columns of black smoke coming out the back and they would sort of lumber and lean drunkenly as they went round bends and delivered the fertilizer, but getting that fertilizer out of those barges was unbelievably hard work. I mean the sacks had gone solid, the heat had caused condensation between them, they’d been stacked one on top of the other and it was like almost sucked together, and then two of you lifting those out and then up onto the quayside and then onto the back of the lorry, it was enormously hard work. How we did it I don’t know but I was the Salesman and I was still down there digging them out.
Sandra You’d still help, yeah.
Paul And it was about that time, that as a concession to manual handling, they stopped putting cattle feed in one hundredweight bags and they put them in 70 pound bags instead, which was better and it was only later on, quite a bit later that it went down to …
Sandra 56 pounds, yes.
Dianne Yes, I remember that.
Paul … or 25 kilos as it is today, but those early days it was all manual handling. No wonder the backs bad (laughs).
Sandra Yeah, well that’s it. We all suffer and it was manual labour right back from kids wasn’t it? It was manual labour right through.
Paul Well Scats was an interesting company. It was an Agricultural co-operative and so though it was shared, it was owned by the members who received a dividend if they bought their bits and pieces that they needed from the co-op and agriculture went through quite a good period in the ‘70’s. Particularly dairy, it really started to pick up in the ‘70’s prior to us joining the Common Market.
Margaret So you were going to farms all over the Island?
Paul I did.
Margaret Do you remember any that were still perhaps stuck in a time warp in the way they did things?
Paul Oh yes, tied us too, oh yes indeed. Well not far from here, down at Brook, I would call to see a chap there, and I’d get there … agricultural repping I had to see quite a few people in a day, and you tended to adjust your time of arrival to when you knew that your customer was about, and so at breakfast time I knew that I could catch this particular chap, and he would be sitting down with a big fat piece of pork or bacon, I can still see the bristle on it now when I think about it (laughs) and a jar of homemade piccalilli and that was his breakfast and you know they were way back in time. There were a number of farms, I hesitate to name them, but I can think of a number of farms and so can you can’t you Di?
Dianne I can’t remember that many on the Island. When you went to the Mainland I can remember one or two that were in a time warp.
Paul I’ve got a couple of amusing incidents. I used to … having been brought up with pigs, I could castrate pigs and in those days, there were a number of people keeping pigs and they weren’t necessarily able to castrate their male pigs. They don’t bother to castrate today but in those days we believed that it tainted the pork and it was best to castrate and the pork wouldn’t be so strong. And so I would go to … there was a closed order of nuns at Ryde, a silent closed order of nuns at Ryde …
99 minutes 38 seconds
Sandra Did they remain silent while they were talking to you Paul?
Paul No, the Mother Superior was allowed to speak because somebody had to speak and the nuns never spoke, and I would go to the Convent and ring the bell and they … it always had a smell. It was incense that I could smell and I’d be silently shown into a lobby and the nun, the Sister would disappear and Mother Superior would come eventually, and, “Good morning Mr Whitelock” and Mr Whitelock was, I don’t know, 20 (laughs) and fairly naïve and, “Good morning Mr Whitelock, we’ve got a number of pigs for you to see to.” Yes, it was always to ‘see to’ and so I used to go and castrate the pigs, and in order to castrate a pig, you need someone to hold them for you (laughs) and with great fortitude, they used to catch the pigs and hold them up for me and I used to cut them with a razor blade. I didn’t have a scalpel, just an ordinary old Gillette razor blade, nick, nick and I used to cut them. But I used to have to take messages from the nuns down to Quarr Abbey because they also had a farm. I never knew what was in the messages but of course it used to amuse me as a young man. I was the postman between Quarr and the nuns and on one particular morning, I promised the nuns that I would pick up their chicks. In those days, chicks used to come by Royal Mail, or by post and indeed by Red Star which was a way of sending parcels on the train from town to town. It was a great scheme, used to work very well, why on earth they ever gave it up I don’t know, so the chicks would be packed live into their little boxes, do you remember them?
Dianne I remember being brave, yes.
Paul And they would be delivered to Ryde Pier Head, and I’ve got my little red mini and I’m thumping down through Wootton, going much too fast as I was won’t to do in those days and I was stopped by a Policeman. You know, “Never mind the rush sir, they will still be there” and he kept me for about half an hour. I went and got the chicks and it cost me, I forget how much the fine was but it was £20 or something. Anyway I got the chicks and I took them down to the nuns, yeah. Those images sort of stay in your mind. And we did have a character working at Scats. His name was Cab Castle. Do you remember Cab?
Sandra I remember dad talking about him.
Paul Cab was a fascinating man and he was always … he was a Salesman for Scats, but he was in business for himself as well and so he would buy and sell anything that he thought he could make a profit on but mainly it was eggs. And so in his mini, the back seats would have egg trays, two and half dozen eggs on a tray and they’d be stacked up, two lots on the back seat, big pile on the floor in the well of the front seat on the mini, and I always remember that he had a roll of notes in his pocket, well it would choke a donkey. Massive roll of old fashioned £1 notes on a roll, maybe some fivers in amongst it, and he always paid cash. He paid cash everywhere, lovely man, lovely happy man but a real wheeler dealer.
Dianne Talking of eggs, I remember washing the eggs, which is not heard of today, ready to take them into the Egg Marketing Board which was just across the road from Newport Market.
Sandra From the Market, that’s right Ann.
Dianne I remember washing buckets full for granny and putting them into the large egg trays. How much did they take? About 48 eggs or something like that, and stacking them up ready to go to Market on Tuesday mornings.
104 minutes 28 seconds
Paul Well the Market was interesting because my father didn’t buy a lot in the Market. He sold a bit but he did buy and when you think about it, some farmers weren’t that well educated and my father left school when he was 14, the same as me but he’d be buying a pen of pigs, they’d be sold … the price per pig, so £1.13 or whatever, or it could even be in guineas. There would be 13 pigs in a pen and he’d have so much money in his pocket and no more, and he’d fix a sum so he was doing a sum which was rising, moving all the time as the Auctioneer was … as the bids came in and the Auctioneer raised the price, he was calculating how much, if he could afford to buy them and those old boys were as sharp as you like. You could see them huddled … they’d be leaning on their sticks, they’d be leaning on each other’s shoulders, they’d put their hands on the back of the mate and you know, they’d be here, they’d be friends but he’s here bidding with his fingers so his friend can’t see him bidding. He’s hiding his bid behind his friend …
Sandra And the price is rising …
Paul … so he can’t see him bidding, yes, and the price is rising (laughs). They were really very, very cunning and they’d appoint a nominee to bid so that others didn’t know it was them buying and the Market was supposed to be run in a straight forward manner but ..
Sandra There were ways around it.
Paul … there were a number of dealers and they would buy pretty much anything and split ‘em up afterwards. It was called a ring, and it was illegal but those kinds of things went on (laughs). But the Market was good fun. The particular thing that I remember was the coffee and tea stand. Do you remember it was just inside the door?
Dianne I remember seeing but we never had one.
Sandra Didn’t have enough money (laughs).
Dianne We probably didn’t.
Paul I used to buy, particularly in the winter, I would buy a hot cup of Bovril with pepper in it and I’ve always loved Bovril with pepper in it ever since, and that love came from the Market because it was a good drink.
Sandra Warming on a cold day.
Paul Never drank it anywhere else, only in the Market and I used to go there of course because the farmers were there that I wanted to see and say hello to. And you used to do business there as well, quite amazing.
Margaret What did people do when the Newport Market closed? Where did they have to take the cattle?
Paul Cattle could be sent across to the other Markets …
Sandra Salisbury and Shaftesbury.
Dianne Some cattle were going. I mean Abletts at Elmsworth were farmers but also farmer Ablett was a dealer and even when Newport Market was still going, they would go to Salisbury or Shaftesbury Market so there was a certain amount were going.
Sandra One was Tuesday and one was Thursday wasn’t it, they were shifting animals.
Paul And finished cattle, the beef, that would go to the FMC, the Fatstock Marketing Corporation.
Sandra What about Biles? He used to have a slaughterhouse in Newport wasn’t it?
Dianne Well he was a dealer as well as the Knacker’s Yard.
Paul So it was pretty well organised. It’s a shadow of its former self now.
Margaret You mentioned the Fatstock Marketing …
Paul Corporation, yes.
Margaret And also Potato Marketing Board so were there Boards for every sort of …
Paul Milk Marketing Board …
Sandra And the Egg Marketing Board.
Paul Potato Marketing Board, it was all left over from the Second World War. If you think back, there’s a bit of social history here really, in the First World War the Germans submarines nearly starved us to death. In the Second World War they very nearly succeeded and it was ‘Dig for Victory’, ‘Dig for Britain’ if you remember and after the War the rationing continued and I can remember the rationing, I can remember National Dried Milk and …
Dianne So can I, remember the green rationing books.
Sandra Mum getting her rationing books out on Market day ‘cos that was the day we went to Newport wasn’t it, to but food and that?
109 minutes 30 seconds
Paul That’s right, both clothes and food because … we’ll get to answer the question, we’ve gone back in to rationing haven’t we, but at that time, I mean you mentioned eating rabbit pie, we used to live on rabbit. My dad was called Bunny. He was the Chairman of the Isle of Wight Rabbit Clearance Society. I’ve got a wonderful photograph kicking around somewhere of him in a huge old ex-Army overcoat and Owey Brayford, who was a deadly shot, unbelievable. I mean he could shoot a rabbit as it popped out of one hole and ran to go down another. He was a wonderful shot but there were 15 or 20 of them, you know, who were dedicated to clearing the bunnies, but was it rose hip syrup?
Paul There was other stuff that we had. We used to have this bloody treacle I seem to remember, I had to take as a child.
Dianne Cod liver oil, malt?
Sandra And orange juice in those funny little bottles.
Paul The orange juice was horrible stuff.
Sandra Malt extract?
Paul But all of that was left over. When did rationing finish? Was it ’56 or ’58? ’56 I think.
Sandra Mid fifties, yeah.
Dianne I’m not sure.
Paul But we were lucky, because we did have the rabbits. We had chickens on the farm …
Sandra We were lucky on farms, yes.
Paul Butter, and we weren’t short and neither were anybody that worked on the farm or knew the farmer really, because there was a lot of help given one way and another. But to get back to the Egg Marketing Board and the Milk Marketing Board and all the other … the potatoes and so on, they were there to ensure that farmers produced sufficient food quickly for people and that we never ran short of food again. It was that support that agriculture got after the War that got our agriculture going again and it meant that the people quickly forgot about rationing and things moved on. But something else had happened then as well. The discovery of chemicals that had gone on during the War and they discovered, I think it was called the Benzene ring, and they discovered a chemical called MCPA which would kill broad leaved weeds in cereals but wouldn’t kill the grass, wouldn’t kill a cereal plant. So it would kill a monocotyledon but it didn’t kill dicotyledons which were the cereal plants and that made a tremendous difference. All of a sudden, you could control the weeds in the crops and so the yield in the wheat increased and there was one other thing that had been discovered and it came about because of the War and that was the discovery of how to take nitrogen out of the air ‘cos air is made up of something like, I think it’s 70%, might be more of nitrogen but it was unavailable, we couldn’t crack it, we couldn’t get it out and a German scientist discovered how to do that. He was engaged in terrible work which was producing the gasses and so that were used in the Holocaust, but he discovered how to do it and that meant that suddenly we had nitrogen, and nitrogen in plentiful supply encourages plant growth, so we could grow more grass and we could control the weeds. And because the farmers were being subsidised, there was a market there to market these products in to because they wanted to produce more milk, more eggs and so on. More potatoes and so on, and so the companies like ICI and some of the big German companies that were broken up after the War like Bayer, who were primarily paint makers, but they started to produce chemicals and so we had better fungus … they started to produce more pesticides that could control aphids, fungicides to control the fungus and of course the weed killers to control the weed and all of a sudden, we got this great market going where products were being invented and we were growing bigger and better crops. And so we went on and the support that the farmers were getting meant that there was a bigger market, until we joined the Common Market. And we joined the Common Market, not the Economic Union, we joined the Common Market, not the European Union, and I remember it was put to us that it would make sense for us not to grow tomatoes in heated greenhouses which burnt fossil fuels and that we should allow the Italians to grow the tomatoes because they had wonderful sunshine and, you know, they could grow their tomatoes virtually all the year round.
115 minutes 32 seconds
Dianne That made sense, didn’t it?
Paul And we should be producing grass and cattle and milk and so on …
Dianne Because we have the water …
Sandra The wonderful grassland.
Dianne The butters and the creams.
Paul And so on and so forth. That was how it was sold to us when we were asked to vote for the Common Market and of course a lot of farmers, myself and my father included were against us joining because things were OK as they were (laughs), but they got even more OK and we didn’t see the sense of putting our very intensive … we’d developed a very intensive agriculture. We were monitoring our milk production, we were feeding according to the yields, we were producing high butter fats and high solids not fats because that what we’d been asked to produce. We were increasing the yield of our wheats and our barleys. I mean to grow five, three and a half, four tonne of wheat to the acre then was really quite something. Five tonnes seems to be the norm these days so we were increasing our yields and we were doing this on the back of high input so it was costing a lot of money for the fertilizer and the chemicals but we were growing more cereals and we being paid for growing them. And suddenly, from becoming very intensive, we went the other way and there was no point in feeding a cow expensive dairy cake. You might as well get the biggest cow you could, stuff her full with grass and silage that you produced on the farm, let the yield go hang because she would be more economical then, than she would be if you filled her full of expensive cattle cake. And nobody wanted the butter fat and the solids not fat. And so our agriculture went through a staggering very difficult period and it’s finally emerged and adjusted into a countryside management, where farmers are paid not to grow crops, or not to plough, or not to plant more trees or to improve access for people all of which is laudable and I don’t denigrate it but they’re still being paid subsidies, and heavily subsidised, something like 70 % of a farmer’s income comes from the payment…
Dianne Subsidies isn’t it?
Paul … that he receives and these payments are open to everybody. I think its 14 acres or upwards, anybody can get these payments and so here we are, back with uncertainty.
Dianne Yes, the day before we officially start Brexit, Article 50. You can write this out Margaret.
Paul Sorry about the political, but our agriculture … we’ve had the finest agriculture in the world, we were teaching the world and we went back and now I don’t know where were going and there’s a lot of quite worried families out there.
Margaret After the changes, and that’s obviously a huge change when we went in, and now we’re coming out. But can I ask you, aside from that, what the three of you think of the most important changes in perhaps the technological way, to make a difference to the actual farm itself?
Paul Oh, without a doubt, the fertilizer and the spray chemicals had the biggest influence on the farms. It allowed the farmers control. Up ‘till then, they had no control whatsoever over the weeds in their crops …
Dianne But together with the mechanical changes as well …
Sandra I was going to say, the mechanical changes …
Paul Yes, I agree.
Dianne But in farming there are still things that machines can’t do aren’t there so you still need your farmers, your young shepherds and so much …
Sandra Oh you do, so much.
Paul I mean if you were able to talk to a chap who used to get in to the Yarborough Arms at Whitwell back in the …
Paul Yes, just before, the late ‘50’s, 59-60 and Charley could tell you how long it would take to plough each field on a wheat farm with a horse and I dare say, on a wheat farm there would have been 10 or 12 labourers and I suspect that if you go to a wheat farm now, which is still farmed, there might be one or it might even be part of a much bigger enterprise and there’s just one chap looking after, you know, twice the acreage. The change has been huge. But the Yarborough Arms was the den of iniquity. Who was the old chap who used to get in there Di? Used to sing.
Dianne Um, I don’t …
Paul Arthur Wills was his name. Arthur was something of a character and Ted Owdridge who used to manage the Yarborough Arms, he’s gone now. It was a real old spit and sawdust pub with a flagstone floor, a rudimentary bar and a stillage behind, I don’t know what you call …the big barrels of beer would be put up on there to settle. So they would come from the Brewery and they’d be put on there to settle and there’d be four barrels of bitter sitting at the back there and maybe one of mild and they were covered in the summer with West of England sacks that were soaked in water to keep them in condition and it was brewed by Mews the Brewery at Newport, M E W S and they used to make something called ‘XP’, a wonderful bitter. And Arthur would get in the pub and Ted Andrews had a mallet and spiral for spiralling his barrels and he kept an old tin tray behind the bar for Arthur, who would beat the time out to his songs on the tin tray with his fist, and of course he would bend the tray and so Ted would bash it with a mallet and get all the dents out and give the tray to Arthur and Arthur would sing. And he’d sing all sorts of songs. Most of them were a bit naughty and every year at the Ventnor Winter Gardens, there was a talent contest, and after winning it three years in a row, they banned Arthur Wills from entering because the holidaymakers who made up the majority of the people who went, kept on voting for him, but he was quite a character, particularly when he’d had a couple of beers and was singing. But Mews, I can tell you an amusing story about Mews. We used to, I told you the Colin DeFue kind of recruited me into Scats and because I was the boy, I’d be sent out to take samples of the crops, the barley and the wheat and oats and so on and bring them back before we would bid on them. And so I would go with an auger and I would sample the crop in store, either in sacks or in the bulk and try and get a representative sample and I’d take it back. And the farmers were always interested in selling their barley for malting because malting barley would make more money. Generally speaking the yield was lower because you couldn’t put very much Nitrogen on it because it spoilt the starch in the barley and the old rhyme was ‘White and mealy, not grey and steely’ so when you cut the barley and you looked at it, if it was white and mealy, it was probably going to be good barley for malting. If it was grey and looked a bit steely, it wouldn’t be very good. So we’d take the samples back and I’d take them back to Colin, and Colin would say to me, “Take this one and this one round to Mews and see if he’ll make an offer on them.” That means buying for malting. So we put them in a paper sack. We wouldn’t identify them to the farm, we’d just give them a number because otherwise, well he might have gone round there and bought them himself, so we used to take them round to the Brewery. Now I never met Mr Mew, but he used to have a bloke there who sat on a high stool at what I think must have been a, like a counting house table, you know where they kept the accounts, this thing was really high and he had a high stool and so I almost passed the sack, used to have to look up to him and pass this sack of barley to him (laughs). It was all part of the thing and he had a machine which you could shake the barley in to and it would fit in to little slots and you could close the lid on it and then push a knife through it and take the lid off and you could see the barley would be cut and you could see actually what it was like. And according to what he thought, and he’d smell the nose, it was a big ritual that would go with this, he’d either buy it or not. He’d make an offer or not. And on several occasions I’d take barley in there and some he’d buy and some he wouldn’t, and some he wouldn’t (laughs), I am ashamed to say, we used to take back, put it in a different bag and take it back to him another day (laughs) and on several occasions he’d buy it (laughs) but of course he didn’t know about that and nobody at the time was ever told but it was Colin’s and my little secret (laughs). But the beer was wonderful and as all things happen and times change and he … I don’t know if he passed away or if he sold it before he passed away but he sold it to Strong’s of Romsey and Strong’s made something called Trophy Bitter and the barrels in those days were all burnt and they had the name burnt on them, the Brewery and the Bitter and the first barrels that came to the Yarborough Arms, bearing in mind they’ve just taken away the bitter that we were all weaned on, it was like mother’s milk as far as we were concerned, they delivered these barrels to the pub and whoever had been branding them , hadn’t got it quite right and instead of saying ‘Trophy Bitter’, it said ‘Ropey Bitter’ and it was known thereafter as Ropey Biter and it was, compared with our experience it was pretty ropey. But they took our microbrewery away but now they’re all back which is wonderful. We’re all back in fashion.
Dianne Things have cycles don’t they?
Margaret Well that was lovely, thank you very much.
128 minutes 5 seconds
Transcribed December 2017