Duration: 1 hour 14 minutes 51 seconds
Judith: My name is Judith Walker and I was brought up at Plaish Farm, Carisbrooke.
Lisa: Thank you. What would you say were your earliest memories of being on the farm?
Judith: Um, my father he had a cart horse named Prince, no tractor when I first was small. We didn’t even have electricity in the farmhouse. That was about ’52, ’53 we had that fitted I think. Each Monday morning my mother did the family wash and we had, downstairs, sort of like a back scullery, we used to call it the back house and they had a boiler which, well, my father used to fill the boiler up with water. It had a wooden top across to keep the water hot as it heated and he had to light a fire underneath it. We had a very old stone sink, there were no washing machines and my mother had an old wringer which we used to turn and my father used to feed the cattle sweeds and things, or turnips and we used to turn a handle and grind those down and flake them I suppose you’d call them now.
Lisa: What sort of cattle were they Judith?
Judith: He had Ayrshires. I don’t know if he had when I was born but he went over to Ayrshires. He got them from the Mainland and he built up a herd and he kept them until he sold the herd in 1973. I’m trying to think what else I can remember. We had … we didn’t have sheep, and we had cattle. He had, as I say, he had the cart horse, we had calves and we had some pigs. No sheep although there was a sheep wash down there which I remember people bringing sheep to, to have them dipped and there was a lot more water in the front of the house at the time.
Lisa: The Lukely Brook?
Judith: The Lukely Brook. The Water Works was still there and I presume it still works, I don’t know.
Lisa: I think so yes, they do the extractions.
Judith: At that time that was there but later on they used to pump the water up to Alvington and down the Moor there is like a well and the Water Board, perhaps they still do it, there’s steps right down to make sure how far the water level is and if it’s very low they release something and then they can pump more up to the well, to the reservoir up at Alvington.
Lisa: How many cattle would you have had at any one time do you think?
Judith: Well he didn’t have that many to start with, I suppose about 20 but I suppose he built his herd up to, I don’t know, 50, 60, 70, don’t even sort of think about that.
Lisa: And what acreage would you have had?
Judith: It was only about 60 acres at the time and then later on he took Goldings on as well.
Lisa: Oh yes.
Judith: He was a tenant farmer and after that he took on Apsedown, the other side of the hill for a time. He didn’t keep that but he took Goldings on after John Cheek who farmed at Buckham Barn retired he took some of that on from Clarks.
Lisa: What do you remember the cart horse being used for? Did you grow fodder for the cattle? Could you afford a plough for that?
Judith: Yes. I suppose he must have done, he must have done that. I remember him hoeing with a sort of manual hoe and people used to come down wanting sort of piece time work and just, they would do the hoeing as well. Um, cart horse, he used to pull the tip-up trailer. I remember him sort of, with mangles and things in the back and then just tipping them up, or with the cow manure, taking it to the heap at the back of the barn. We used to ride on his back sometimes I know, I can remember that (laughs) but I suppose in the early 50’s he must have got a tractor and, just one tractor, mostly David Browns because he liked those.
5 minutes 5 seconds
Lisa: Did you have siblings Judith?
Judith: Yes I’ve got a brother, Cameron, who lives in Carisbrooke, who you probably know, who lived at the farm when dad and mum moved to the cottage next door.
Lisa: And what sort of things did you do as children around the farm?
Judith: Oh all sorts of things. When I think of health and safety these days (laughs) but we survived. Well we used to clean out the cow sheds. We were never allowed to stay in bed after half past nine because that’s when dad came in to have his breakfast and we had to be up by then. They would milk the cows. He used to have a small breakfast first, go out and milk the cows and then come in and have a cooked breakfast which my mother always did for him. So yes, we cleaned out the stables. He used to have a bull at one time, I remember holding on the pole of the bull, not right close to it. He would be there as well, my dad. Well we used to feed the calves, we used to pick mushrooms out the back in the fields. We used to play with the children opposite, the Eldridges, the Solicitors, who used to live there. Dad used to … he built us a trolley out of the old pram wheels and planks of wood and we used to hurtle down this lane and to see if we could end up in the sheep wash. There wasn’t much water at the time you see and whoever got furthest, oh it was such a proud time and we never thought about cars coming up and down. We used to … he used to feed the cows in the winter. They were mainly turned out if the weather wasn’t too bad and this was when he had a tractor and he would throw the hay out from the bales on the field and we used to drive the tractors from about seven onwards, we’d always be driving. Whatever there was to do, you know? If the cows had to go along the road and in the field opposite we used to help take them along the road. Calf the cows, used to help pull the calves out, anything that needed doing.
Lisa: Did you keep chickens?
Judith: Oh yes we had chickens, yes, free range mostly unless the foxes got them. He used to keep some out in the hen house out in the back field by the brook that goes down at the back, you know the little stream that goes down at the back. I remember one Christmas someone stole the lot so nothing new happened, but he used to keep some in deep litter, he would call it. He’d be ranging around out near the tractor shed near the house, you know, oh yes. Although I can’t bear eggs, I don’t like eggs at all (laughs). I don’t like milk either.
Lisa: What can you tell me about the house itself Judith? What sort of cooking arrangement did your mother have for example?
Judith: Well my Grandmother also lived in the house so we usually lived upstairs, she lived downstairs until latterly when she went to live with her elder daughter. Cooking arrangements, I think mum used to have an old oil stove at one time before we had the electricity and then she had an electric cooker, that was alright. Remember about the house, it’s supposedly haunted. I’d never seen a ghost but my brother and everyone else had but they always seemed a friendly house to me and we had front stairs and we had back stairs and we would get long lengths of baler tie, tie them together and we’d hurtle round the house, one one end and one the other or friends, and run up and down, run up one lot of stairs and round the other. Yes I remember, I suppose it was cold because when I was born it was ’47 and things used to freeze. There was, oh, wash-downs you see, although we had a bathroom, a great big old cast iron bath but before the electricity went in we had to carry the buckets of water upstairs you know, which was a bit heavy but then you got used to it but yes, I suppose it was happy memories because you had a lovely view of Garston’s out the back window which was where I slept in the back and when I was younger it was covered in ivy, I’ve got a photo actually and then dad removed that and put climbing roses on the front instead. I always liked the hall because it sort of, although it was stone floors we had carpet down as well and that was nice and we used to play hide and seek a lot. That’s what I mainly remember about the house, you know. I don’t think you appreciate the size and where you live until you’re older.
10 minutes 43 second
Lisa: Yes, possibly, yes.
Judith: You know, and then downstairs there was a, my Grandmother wouldn’t have it uncovered but there was a great big open fire but when she moved out it got uncovered and my brother liked it. You know it was a great big, big stones. Lots of rooms and lots of back houses all attached to it.
Lisa: Did you go to school in the village?
Judith: No I went to school on the Mall in Newport at Westmont.
Lisa: Oh yes. So were there other farming children at school?
Judith: Yes, because Jane, she would have been latterly Kingswell, when she was older she went there and she lived at Rowborough and her father also farmed Idlecombe and we’re still friends today. I don’t know if there were any other farmer’s children.
Lisa: You mentioned your father was a tenant; who would have owned the land?
Judith: Clarks, yes. Because I suppose once upon a time it was part of the Seely estate wasn’t it …?
Lisa: Yes, yes it was.
Judith: … so I presume you still don’t pay water rates.
Judith: Isn’t it lucky (laughs). I remember my father always saying, always run the tap a lot in the morning first because they’re lead pipes and you’ve always got to be careful of lead pipes and he was right wasn’t he.
Lisa: So do you know if you were a part of a large estate, with other farms through the valley?
Judith: It must have been at first. It must have been, yes I would think so because it was only part Plaish Farm I think. Perhaps as tenants came and went then it would have been divided a bit I think, I’m not sure. I mean although when they moved they bought it and then they sold it on so that’s what happened in the end.
Lisa: Where there things around the farm that Cameron was allowed to do and you weren’t, while you were growing up? Sort of boy’s things and ‘no, bit too much for you Judith’?
Judith: No I don’t think so.
Lisa: Oh, that’s good.
Judith: I wasn’t allowed to stay at home and work. Cameron was but I wasn’t. My mother said no, it’s not fit work for a girl. I mean I was never as strong as him obviously but one thing I do remember, we had a big garden and we used to grow loads of … dad used to grow loads of vegetables and my Grandfather used to have a patch there as well. He used to come from Newport. That’s my mother’s father and we used to have what’s called a potting shed and they would grow loads of potatoes and then they would just put them on to the cobbles, like the cobbles up at the castle.
Judith: And cover them with sacks and you used to just go in and take them all through the winter, you know, almost a winter supply and then dad one day decided he was going to build a fishpond where there was a bit of a dip in the garden, so he did and he dug it out and he dug right round a well that had been covered in and I think there was another one in the garden as well. There also were about, before the days of the bathroom, there was what we would call lavatories at the top of the garden and we always called it the lavatory garden and there were about five toilets in there, all side by side. Of course they got dismantled after the indoors bathroom sort of took over.
Lisa: And were any of the cottages still occupied by workers at the farm when you took it on or was it purely a family farm?
14 minutes 57 seconds
Judith: No, next door cottage, Mr Civic used to live in there, Doug Civic. He used to come down and milk the cows on a Saturday afternoon so he did actually used to work on the farm although he didn’t work for dad except on a Saturday afternoon, if I remember rightly and it was always funny because he always wore a cap and once he took it off and dad came in and said, “Do you know he’s bald! I’ve never seen his head before!” But the other … the first little cottage down the road where, I don’t know who lives there now, it used to be Harold Humber. That was called, he was Jake Downer and he worked at Froglands Farm and he used to walk across the back field and you could always see his footprint because the Pluto line ran across the farm as well, I don’t know if you knew that?
Lisa: Oh, no I didn’t.
Judith: That farm, the field at the top, just at the top of the road, or across the road, on the right hand side, if you looked in the bank you would find, it’s like an H. Concrete posts and that came all down that field, across the road and into the field opposite Goldings. Then it went … there’s two fields at the back of Plaish farmhouse and it went across the left-hand back field and there’d be another post in the hedge up there and it went up over the top after that. Sort of the top of Whitecroft.
Lisa: Oh, I never knew that. Do you actually remember hand milking?
Judith: Yes, because that’s why they didn’t have so many cows.
Lisa: I suppose you were about 10 were you, when electricity came in?
Judith: No, I’d be about five or six I think but dad always used to wear a cap, oh and we used to wash the cows off, you know, wash their udders as well and he’d always put his cap into sort of the thigh of the cow, you know, and do that and milk. I mean I could hand milk, you know, because sometimes you had to if the cow had mastitis and you couldn’t put the milk … you couldn’t sell the milk, you’d have to tip it away until it was treated. So yes I do remember all that, yes.
Lisa: And what sort of people would have visited you at the farm, sort of tradespeople?
Judith: Sorry which people?
Lisa: Tradespeople, did the Blacksmith come or anything like that you can remember?
Judith: Yes, I don’t think dad used to take the horse in so it would be Prince. The Blacksmiths were called Prince. They used to have a, I suppose Blacksmith’s shop you would say wouldn’t you, in Sea Street.
Lisa: Oh yes.
Judith: I would say it would be where the, what is there now? There’s number one Holyrood Street and there’s a hotel there and you go round a corner, it was just past the corner there.
Lisa: Yes, there’s car parks mainly there.
Judith: Yes, well between the car park and there, there’s a building and I can’t think what it is. Is it the probation or something like that? Well that was where it was and there was a Blacksmith called Willy Old and didn’t have a roof to his mouth and he spoke very gruffly and he was a bit frightening but I think he was alright. I think there were two Mr Princes, there was a big Mr Prince and a little Mr Prince but I’m sure they would have come to the farm because dad also had a hunter at times, you know, he used to go our hunting on the horse, one horse he had. Then we used to have, did the Grain Merchants come? I suppose they would because they were mechanised by then. I think there was Lee Thomas’s because I worked for them when I left school and Silcocks, Mr Burton, Rex Burton. There was also Fisk & Fishers who … farmers trading because I expect the reps used to come to the farm, you know, try and get some business, then we’d have a Vets, Calper Blake. Let me think who else. Then we always used to have tradespeople down the road because the Baker came three times a week, Harveys and then they got taken over by Rays I suppose. Who else would come? The Butcher, the butcher’s boy used to ride his bike. Well the Milkman used to come down the lane but we didn’t need one but we drank unpasteurised milk obviously. There must have been others I suppose. The milk lorry would come, used to come up and down the lane unless it was very snowy and then it used to be a milk stand at the top of the lane and we used to put the milk churns on that. The other cottages, no, because it was the Plucknets, no he didn’t work and then as I say the Civics and then someone else called Lacey came to work for dad so they moved into that cottage next door. Beverley and her father used to work for dad, Lesley. The Whitewoods lived here, the Leopards next door, Branscombe’s at the top, oh and Mrs Smith. The Branscombe’s are still there aren’t they, at the top of the lane. Mr Branscombe, they used to live in the cottage before Harold Humber and after the Downers, that’s right. Yes, Mr Branscombe, the family lived there and then when Mr Smith died they moved up there with Mrs Smith I think. Eldridges were there and Heather and Frank, they’re still down the bottom I think. It was Mr and Mrs Hillier, that’s Heather’s parents and then Heather and Frank and during haymaking time, Mr Hillier and his son-in-law Frank, Harold Humber, Bill Leopard next door, they all used to come and help with the haymaking or the harvest.
22 minutes 14 seconds
Lisa: How would haymaking have gone then? Did you hire in a piece of equipment or did someone?
Judith: Yes sometimes, I think until dad got a baler. They’d come … when I was born they wouldn’t have baled it, they used to have ricks in the yard at the back and he used to thatch them, because that’s what dad was doing when I was born, thatching a rick, so he couldn’t move until he’d finished doing that (laughs) and then we got to bales and we used to have a wagon and used to load it up so high and we’d be able to … we were allowed to climb up and ride on the wagon you see. Wouldn’t now, but it was tied down. Yes and everyone used to come and help. There was Ted Willier from up at Goldings as well.
Lisa: So when yours were done, would your father have gone off to help someone else?
Judith: Possibly, his brother in law lived at Sandpits Farm at Calbourne, he used to go and help him and sometimes, well others would help. John Cheek who I said lived at Buckham Barn and if he wanted, they borrowed each other’s machinery at times as well, instead of buying one dad would ring up and say, “Can I borrow one of your implements?” And when the bull went, it was artificial insemination so the AI people used to come and inseminate as well, I do remember that.
Lisa: Did you get, oh yes you did mention Judith, you helped with the calving. Did you often have to call the Vet out do you remember or, where there many crises?
Judith: Yes, well, we did have trouble, this would be back in the late ‘50’s, ‘60’s. The Waterworks fence, I think that was their fence down to there and it was a chain-link or something like that, it went rusty and dad kept on to them, “Look you must replace this fence” and we had two cows with wire in their stomachs and I must admit I like watching the ops (laughs) and each cow, not at the same time, they’d eaten the grass and of course ingested the wire and they had to have it removed and I remember Gerald Wells was the Vet at the time and he came and he operated on both of them and took the wire out of the stomach so they saved the cows but yes, and the Water Board would have had to pay for the operations because it was their fence you know and that’s what caused it.
25 minutes 33 seconds
Lisa: The period you were living at home, do you remember any substantial changes in how things were done, apart from the tractor arriving? Did the way things were done change; were different crops grown or the type of animals change?
Judith: Yes, well my brother never liked cows. He didn’t like milking, so dad sold his herd in 1973, I was looking it up, and therefore they went to a suckling herd, beef and they grew corn as well until ’99 when things really got pretty tough so therefore they didn’t need so much labour but they had more machinery. You were always hearing, “Oh the combine’s broken down” or something but yes, so I suppose, well there aren’t many milking herds now anyway are there, and then they went from milking buckets to a sort of piped system. I think that’s when he sold his herd, it was quite sad to see them all go but it did save them a lot of time and then they had quite a bit of grain you know, and they used to sell that through, I think they were a member of the Island Grain, there used to be a sign down at the gate, that’s what there was.
Lisa: Were, because the fields now are, so many of them are full of rape, was that around then?
Judith: No, no. I can’t remember them ever doing rape. It was either … it was mostly barley they had, they had a bit of wheat I think. Usually they ploughed up there and they had a field further over which you couldn’t do much with because of a great big dip but when it snowed, oh it was wonderful for sledging. It used to be quite a walk but oh yes. So I suppose yes, times had changed and … which was why they gave up in the end because, well I suppose dad was getting older any way.
Lisa: Were there many changes made to the house itself?
Judith: As I say they were tenant farmers.
Lisa: Oh of course.
Judith: They couldn’t do that much themselves but my brother did a lot because they did B&B in the end and he’s clever with his hands. I mean my father, a six inch nail and that did for everything but my brother, he’s good with his hands, I’m like my dad (laughs). He put in central heating and everything but when they sold it I think they took it all out again which was most peculiar. Yes, I mean my mother was always decorating, she always kept the house neat and tidy. They always looked after the garden and yes, I suppose they did certain things in the house which over time, you don’t really notice. They sort of uncovered the beams which had been painted over and they went back to being wooden beams again, you know, but yes, I’ve never really thought what they did you know (laughs) but they must have done quite a bit mustn’t they? They didn’t have central heating when I was there and of course you don’t miss what you never had. Stone floors downstairs, but, because a side bit was the older bit, the front bit was the newer bit and then we had a game larder as well there so I think Cameron did most of the stuff that needed doing.
Lisa: So do you recall, you mention game, did you have pheasants, rabbits and whatever for meals?
29 minutes 57 seconds
Judith: I remember when I was little we had rabbits, dad used to have them because I used to like the kidney. It was always nice to have kidneys and we used to have some pigeon. No, as he was a tenant farmer he didn’t used to have shooting but they used to have tenant shoots and he used to go elsewhere, to a friend’s in Calbourne and we used to often have pheasants, you know you’ve got to hang them for a bit haven’t you, so we’d have hooks, there were hooks in the game larder to sort of hang things up and of course we didn’t have fridges when I was born so we had a larder, you know and it was quite cold anyway, it was much the same temperature all the year round really out the back. Whether any of that’s still there or not, I doubt it.
Lisa: What other wildlife do you remember? Birds?
Judith: Well obviously foxes and owls, used to see hooting at night, bats. I don’t remember badgers, I don’t remember any of those. Quite a few rabbits but not too many.
Judith: Yes because they used to have hare-coursing at Froglands.
Lisa: Oh did they?
Judith: Yes, when, Harry Morris was there then. Yes that was sort of on a Saturday, I don’t know how many times a year but I remember seeing that there and the Hunt used to exercise round here and Teresa West’s riding school. They used to come round there and there used to be a gate across, I’m not sure it is a footpath now is it? In front of the house, go in front of the house and then you can go, meet the lane. Is it still a footpath?
Judith: It is still a footpath and dad used to have a low gate there and they were always knocking this gate down and he used to be cross. “Oh no” you know, “they’ve done it again” you know, “she’s knocked that gate down” but yes they were always coming round, she was a riding school. Can’t think of, yes there were definitely hares around then, you don’t see them now do you really?
Lisa: I haven’t seen them recently, no. When we first came here we used to see them in the field at the back.
Judith: But I don’t remember sort of daffodils growing like they do now, everywhere, that’s sort of the last 30, 40 years, but the snowdrops in Buckham Lodge, I don’t know if they still have them there, in the wood.
Lisa: Yes, that’s a lovely show, yes.
Judith: And we used to climb the trees in there and they used to have a rope from a tree, just out there. Yes.
Lisa: So, you went out to work rather than worked on the farm, once you left school.
Judith: Yes, as I say I wasn’t allowed to stay at home because my mother thought it wasn’t a proper place for a girl. I wouldn’t meet anyone if I stayed at home so I worked first at Lee Thomas’ Pawn Merchants so I met lots of farmers there anyway and then I went to Silcock’s in the market buildings and then I worked for vets, Peters, Newbury and Taylor. I don’t know if Sally Newbury still lives along the road next to the chapel. I don’t know, she probably does.
Lisa: Right, so once you were out working did you still help at home?
Judith: Oh yes, yes.
Lisa: Little jobs there?
Judith: Yes. I used to mainly cycle to work, it was easier, and I still do (laughs). Oh yes I used to … dad always used to mow the lawn, he always used to moan and he could never get the mower started and used to have to pull it, you know, petrol engine thing. But oh yes, I used to still help at home.
Lisa: Was there a particular time of year that you thought of as a favourite?
Judith: Primrosing, up round the back lanes, I mean it might be all grown in now. Just at the back of the house and then you go up towards Froglands Way. Used to go primrosing and they’re my favourite flowers, even now, and violets are up there, so yes, it was … I mean we used to just walk up there, we had a Corgi and just used to go anywhere with, you know, “Oh take the dog with you” you know but there was never any fear of anyone around, you know, never thought about it, but yes, spring. Dad liked the winter I think because the dark evenings meant he didn’t have to work so late (laughs). Whereas summer and autumn, you know.
35 minutes 22 seconds
Lisa: Yes the long days.
Judith: Hay and the corn.
Lisa: Yes. So did you actually have haymaking as well as harvest?
Judith: Yes, always haymaking, I mean silage came in a bit later, you know. Didn’t have corn as much until they got rid of the dairy herd but always haymaking and that’s when all the people turned out and then dad always belonged to the NFU and we always used to go to the harvest Thanksgiving at what’s Newport Minster now. I mean I originally, mum and I used to cycle along to church in Carisbrooke.
Lisa: Were you ever a young farmer?
Judith: Yes I used to go to young farmers on occasions, yes with Jane Read over at Read’s farm, and her brother used to go, Kay, but I’m afraid he died and Peggy Flux who used to be from Gurnard. Yes, I didn’t go that much but yes, I used to go a bit.
Lisa: How often, when you were younger, did you get in to town? Did you used to go down for the market?
Judith: Well yes, because dad always went to the market on a Tuesday and he used to go to Harvey’s, to lunch and when Harvey’s closed they used to go to the Wheatsheaf. My Grandmother lived in Newport so mum and Cameron and I used to go to my Grandmother’s for lunch. We called it dinner then because it was always a cooked meal, you know (laughs). So yes, we used to go quite a bit and then sometimes in the summer we’d go out for a drive on a Sunday evening because dad said, “Oh I never get out if I don’t go, I’m a prisoner here” you know (laughs) but he used to belong to the Agricultural Show Committee, Hampshire Stockbreeders and he always seemed to be going out to a meeting most weeks. He liked going to Whist drives and things like that with my mother, right through (laughs), all I can remember, yes.
Lisa: What do you remember of the agricultural shows?
Judith: Um, well I remember working in Lee Thomas’ tent, you know, when I worked there and sort of serving the farmers. Um, I always remember the Hunt, all the cattle there and the horses.
Lisa: Where were they held then?
Lisa: Blackwater, yes.
Judith: Yes that was, yes where there’s a cricket ground. Yes, and used to go round to all the tents and they would give you refreshments as well (laughs) and I remember dad was always on the Show Committee so he was always in the ring with, I don’t know if it was light horses I think he used to do.
Lisa: Would he have shown cattle?
Judith: No he didn’t usually show cattle, he always helped. He used to like going to point to point you know, he was very much into hunting you see. I know it’s, not so much these days but he was, one time, Chairman of the hunt supporters as well but I didn’t really ride. Cameron did at times but I was not so keen on it.
Lisa: And the agricultural shows, would there have been peripherals like there are now, sort of double-glazing and all this sort of thing, or was it more of a purely farming day?
Judith: I think it was more farming. I mean there might have been double-glazing but I don’t suppose, no there wasn’t double-glazing then was there.
Lisa: Possibly not, no (laughs)
Judith: But no, no I should think it was mostly…
Lisa: Produce tents and that sort of thing?
Judith: Yes, WI and things like that. Yes I’m sure it was more that and it was always in July, about the 3rd July. Standen it was called wasn’t it, agriculture show was Standen.
Lisa: Yes, and gymkhana was part of it perhaps?
40 minutes 1 second
Judith: Yes I think there was, yes, they used to have show jumping there I remember, yes and we did used to, on occasions, go to gymkhanas, dad used to help. My cousins were more into that I think. Penny at Calbourne, she used to, she didn’t have horses, but dad only had one hunter.
Lisa: So the milk, was it a milk, the Milk Marketing Board in those days?
Judith: Yes it was a Buckingham’s lorry so I suppose, and the milk cheque used to come in once a month I remember, you know.
Lisa: Yes, so where would it have gone to, your milk? The Creamery in Newport?
Judith: The Creamery in Newport, yes, oh yes it used to go there and I presume it was bottled, it must have been mustn’t it. Yes, dark green lorries I think they were (laughs) if I remember rightly.
Lisa: Do you remember what sort of yield you used to get from the cows?
Judith: No I don’t remember that, not so good with Ayrshires probably as Friesians which is probably why most people kept Friesians, my dad one of them. Certain cows gave a lot more than others, you know and some were more prone to mastitis than others which is, um, no I wouldn’t know what yield they were, Cameron would probably know better than me but he wasn’t very interested in the cattle.
Lisa: When would you have stopped using churns and the lorry? I don’t know, I suppose the lorry sort of takes it directly from the Dairy doesn’t it, after that.
Judith: Yes, yes. I suppose, I don’t think, I can’t remember if they did have a tanker. I got married in 1970 and I’m still, I think they were probably still in churns then because they had the churns outside the Dairy. I mean first of all, when I was little, the milk had to go through a cooler. They put it down through the top, obviously because we had no electricity you know, just used to sort of run down into a churn and be cooled but then we had a great big cooler with water in it and you’d put the churns in there to keep them cold, if I remember rightly. That was in the Dairy and then we had to wash everything up. That was another thing we used to do, wash up the buckets for the milk you see and hang up the machines, you mustn’t get the machine, the actual pulsators wet but apart from that had to wash everything else and had to be renewed regularly, the rubbers. I haven’t thought of that for a long time (laughs).
Lisa: Did you keep milk to make butter, or cheese? Did you ever have a go at that?
Judith: Mum didn’t make cheese but I do remember she had a butter churn and we used to have to turn it, it was an old wooden thing. You turned and turned and turned and then she would pat the butter and make patterns on it and I presume they would have given the milk to the cats, you know, what was left over, but yes I do remember her making butter you know, churning. Yes, we used to do that out in the old backhouse (laughs) because of the stone floors and then we could keep them clean you see, just wash them, because they got washed once a week, when the washing had been done as well you see.
Lisa: If you needed things, either for yourselves or actually for the farm, that weren’t available locally, how did you find out about where to order them?
Judith: I suppose they would have looked in the Farmer and Stockbreeder, or word of mouth or something. We used to have … there was one rep that used to come from the Mainland. Oh and they always used to use Formal plant hire a lot as well so they would have got things from the Mainland or if it was cattle, I mean when Newport market closed they used to go to Shaftesbury so they had the expense of shipping stuff over to Shaftesbury which must have been pretty costly and I presume they would then sort of, talked with other farmers to see what was available. There was no internet then was there (laughs).
45 minutes 2 seconds
Lisa: No, no.
Judith: But I mean the Farmer and Stockbreeder and then latterly the farmers went in with Farmers Weekly I think so dad was always reading that, every week so that’s how they would find out about things.
Lisa: And if he wanted new stock, would he have started in Newport or would he have gone to a particular breeder?
Judith: Um, I expect they would have, I’m trying to thing. I know when they first went all Ayrshire they went onto the Mainland to get them and of course they bred a lot of their own because of AI, the artificial insemination, they could have different sort of bulls for, you know, from different farmers for the cattle. Um, I think they must have bought a lot locally but they bred a lot. But yes they bought, I’m sure they must have bought locally but then perhaps they used to bring some back from Shaftesbury. They might have sold some and it would come back in the same lorry as the other stock went.
Lisa: Did you used to go to Shaftesbury?
Judith: I didn’t used to, my mother always used to go, they used to take the car over to see how the stuff was selling and she would walk round the town and have lunch while dad was at the market and of course he got to know a lot of the farmers on the mainland as well.
Lisa: You said you had pigs I think?
Judith: Yes at one time.
Lisa: Did you used to butcher them yourself?
Judith: No, they had them done, after we had a deep-freeze you see (laughs).
Lisa: (Laughs) yes.
Judith: Um, Wessex Saddlebacks mainly and yes there were quite a few pig sties there and they used to let them out in the field to root around at the back. I like pigs (laughs). Yes but we didn’t have masses, they had more cattle than pigs, yes, and of course was farrowing as well. I remember they used to have big lights to keep the piglets warm in the winter when they’d just been born, and farrowing rails so that the mother didn’t lay on them to suffocate them.
Lisa: We get a lot of riders down through here of course. Were people riding purely for pleasure then?
Judith: Yes, I would say so because once the cart horses went it was just the pleasure ones you know, as I say the riding stables or the Hunt. Didn’t see quite so many in front of the house, what I would call in front of the house. They would come round from Buckham and you’d see them go round at the top of the garden. Michael Clark, used to see from, he used to be at Buckham Farm then. Um, oh I can’t think who else but yes, as I say, because if they came up the lane they’d have to go along the road so yes.
Lisa: Fertiliser and soil types it mentions here (laughs). You aware … ?
Judith: Sulphate of ammonia, dad used to use and I know that because where I worked at Lee Thomas’ that’s what he always had. He didn’t believe much in spraying. He had to on occasions I suppose and he used a lot of manure you see, so the manure spreader, which was the best thing, he always liked that, the sort of natural stuff, but yes, sulphate of ammonia, that’s what he used.
Lisa: And actually going down into Newport, was there, sorry, some of these questions make it sound as though I’m talking about hundreds of years ago (laughs).
Lisa: I mean was there a bus service for a start?
Judith: Yes, better than it is now I think.
Judith: But as I say, I used to ride a lot on my bike, because when I worked at the Vets we used to have late surgeries anyway but yes, we’d often, well, I sometimes cycled to school, I sometimes bussed and to work. Yes, it wasn’t a bad bus service, I think it was seven pence it used to cost to go into Newport, if I remember rightly. We used to get weekly tickets and they used to be punched. If there wasn’t a bus we used to walk to the Waverley and catch a bus, well, what is now Dave Death’s opposite there or down by the bottom of the steps of the church. Yes, so I don’t think a lot has changed. I mean they widened the road by the chapel when I was young because it was always very very narrow there and fortunately they did widen it so that was, that would have been in the ’50’s I remember because there used to be Gubbins and Ball lorries and they used to hurtle along this road. Well, stuff still hurtles along there doesn’t it! (laughs).
51 minutes 10 seconds
Lisa: It does. Was Newport particularly busy on a Tuesday? Yes?
Judith: Yes, with the farmers in but one thing I would say about my father, he always cut his hedges. He didn’t like high hedges, he didn’t like, I don’t know what the trees are like here now but he always had to cut the hedges because he said it made the roads bad because the roots bring up the tarmac and he always religiously came round and he used to cut some of these hedges up here as well for people because he eventually got a hedge cutter on the tractor and Cameron was the same. September, October, the hedges had to be cut because that’s the time of year to do it obviously because they stay tidier the longest. Now, I see they have cut the hedges up here a bit which is good. Newport was quite busy, Clatterford Road was better than it is now (laughs).
Lisa: You had a telephone at home?
Judith: Yes we always had a telephone.
Judith: Yes, from even when I was born in think because they did need it if they wanted a Vet quickly or anything like that, to order things, yes. 52270, or 2270 at the time it was, I don’t know if it still is (laughs).
Lisa: Were you aware of there being any sort of schemes, like the have the conservational schemes now, was there anything like that in those days?
Judith: Mm, those trees, here, at the top of here…
Judith: … that’s why they planted a tree in ’73 or something like that, or even before that, that’s why those trees were planted there to keep it from, well it wasn’t going to be developed I don’t think but, anyone else using it, they wanted. Are the trees still there? I didn’t take a lot of notice.
Judith: Yes, well that’s why they were planted there. Um, conservation, yes I suppose there were certain things.
Lisa: Were you aware of any bureaucracy shall we say, like you have now with your ear tags and passports and all this sort of thing?
Judith: I think the ear tags came in, not sure about the passports but, I don’t think, because it was after the War. I don’t think there was that much during the War, it just sort of, I can remember several cases of foot and mouth all around here, you know, several times. That last time was terrible up North wasn’t it but I can remember WARAG they used to call it, War, and someone used to come round and they used to have movement books and the police used to have to come and sign them every so often.
Lisa: What for selling? Movements with selling?
Judith: Yes, so that would be a bit wouldn’t it and then the dreaded foot and mouth, oh, we used to have to dip our feet and mats.
55 minutes 2 seconds
Lisa: Were you ever affected?
Judith: No, touch wood. It was over the hill but no. So fortunate you know. The farmers were really worried and obviously things had to be put in place then and all the footpaths were then closed but … I’m trying to think about conservation, you know. My father was always at war with the ramblers I think because he once, you know, he had a field of corn and they went straight up through them instead of going round. It doesn’t take a lot of gumption just to go round but they said, “No there’s a footpath there so we’re going through them”. So they used to have to always sort of mow a pathway up through when you could easily just go round, it’s not that far. I think he was into conservation, you know he liked to see all the things around and yes, very soft-hearted farmers are underneath.
Lisa: You mentioned owls just now, did they actually nest in your barns, and swallows, bats?
Judith: Oh the swallows came back every year, the same thing, because I remember dad always saying they used to nest under the eaves, “Never ever disturb a swallow or a martin’s nest because it brings you bad luck.” He used to say that and he used to come in, “Oh the swallows are back!” They flew straight in to the same place and they used to go in the cow shed, yes. I used to love to see them coming back, yes, and cuckoos you see. You don’t get those so much now do you, unfortunately, I don’t know if you hear them here now.
Lisa: I haven’t here, no. Not heard one at all for a couple of years, anywhere.
Lisa: It’s such a shame. Would you have thought of yourselves as reasonably prosperous or was it, did you feel it was always a struggle?
Judith: Well, if it was a struggle they hid it well (laughs). A farmer would never say they were prosperous, the weather was never ever good, you know but I suppose we lived pretty well but we always had to be careful, you know. Don’t waste, nothing was ever wasted. We had to eat our food up mostly unless it went for the cats, you know but, well I suppose we always had a car so we always, you know, but yes (laughs).
Lisa: You would have still been at home for the, what we might call our big freeze in ’62, ’63?
Judith: Oh yes.
Lisa: How did you cope on the farm?
Judith: We used to have to … the milk was up on the stand, it couldn’t get up the lane. We went up round the field on the tractor and there is a gateway in that sort of middle field and then it goes up to the end, well it did then and they had the tractor and a transport box and the milk came up and was put on the stand there. I think it was about six weeks we had to do that, but you couldn’t get up the lane, you just, it was just blocked. We must have had water, but everything had to be carried by tractor and I don’t know how many buses there were because Shorewell Shute is on this route isn’t it? I remember walking to the Waverley a lot, you know in boots, so that was the easiest way to get out, that way.
Lisa: And the animals would have been in presumably?
Judith: Yes, I think they probably, did they have the covered yard then? Was that the one that went up in smoke? We called it a covered yard, or barn. I’m so pleased it wasn’t the old stone barn that caught fire. That would have been so sad but yes, they were kept inside and, well the feed must have lasted out mustn’t it, because I can’t remember that it didn’t, but yes, so that’s how we got out.
60 minutes 2 seconds
Lisa: Is there anything else in particular that comes to mind? Anything you remember being particularly excited about or any other sort of major changes?
Judith: Gosh I can’t think (laughs). When it was the Silver Jubilee, the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, mum had a party out the back and I remember when it was the Coronation so that’s going back to ’53 isn’t it? We had flags all across the front of the house and it was quite a big garden down there so, yes I remember we celebrated the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, a BBQ in the garden and various things. When I got married we had a marquee in the garden you see, because it was big enough for that. I suppose when you look back on it it’s all the friends we used to have that we used to play with, you know and they used to enjoy coming down. My brother fell in the sheep wash when he was about four. You sort of think, well it must have been so dangerous, although they hadn’t dammed it up, you know it was just the river running through but I remember him sort of bumping his head. He had a bump on his head and an old panama on and he just stood there like this (laughs). And just seeing all the people around here who, you know, you sort of think time sort of stood still almost. You knew all the people and, I’m trying to think. I suppose we used to have, yes, lots of friends around and there were always children around when we were younger.
Lisa: Lots of space.
Judith: Well yes, I mean I just took it for granted. There used to be a great big beech tree in the garden, well that came down in the storm of ’87. Yes, the beech tree fell down, ah it was such a shame but yes (laughs), I remember looking at that all the time. That was sad when that went.
Lisa: Did that come down safely?
Judith: Yes, they were lucky, and I remember there used to be an air service that used to go over every night, just after 10. A sort of air, like a car ferry aeroplane. You always used to hear it coming from Southampton I presume. Used to always go over, every night and when I used to get off the bus on the top of the lane, when I caught the bus, if you ran down the road you could see it going through part of the sheep wash, through Buckham, if you were quick enough (laughs). When it was really dark in the evenings, you know, a bit dark going down there isn’t it? If you keep in the middle of the road then it’s gravelly and then if it was really muddy you had upturned boots by the wall, had to put them on to get through the mud (laughs). It’s things like that, only little things but (laughs). I think dad was sad when they moved out, well they both were, out of the farmhouse and moved up to the cottage but then they moved out to Apesdown and I think they had more space again then but we found the rooms so small (laughs).
Lisa: Yes it was tiny (laughs). Do you remember marathon baking sessions or anything like that at home?
Judith: Oh mum was always cooking, yes. I mean she used to cook dad’s breakfast every morning and then they always had a meal lunchtime, she always cooked at lunchtime, unless it was a Tuesday and then we had tea and then she used to cook us supper as well. Yes, we must have always been eating. Well I still eat quite a bit anyway but, yes and then she used to bake masses of cakes, you know, chocolate cakes and sponge, yes, pies. She didn’t work as such but then she was always busy with fruit cakes you know and pies and tarts and things. Oh yes, always busy baking.
65 minutes 24 seconds
Lisa: Did you used to go out with the haymaking or harvest?
Judith: Yes, yes, used to go and sometimes stack the bales, put them into heaps so that they were easier to pick up. Eventually it sort of seemed to go more on a low loader or something, not the waggons. The waggon, they got rid of that and then of course the harvest there were big rolls. Got rid of that. Well they just sort of stacked them then. Yes we used to go. Sometimes we’d go out and take the food out to the field to save them coming in, you know, you’d sit on a bale and have your tea, flasks and things like that, oh yes.
Lisa: And did you have a big meal for everyone once everything was gathered in?
Judith: No I don’t think we did actually. That was when we went to the harvest supper, just the harvest supper at the, well St Thomas’s, you know. I don’t think we ever had sort of a harvest home, it’s just sort of, no, it’s a shame (laughs) but no, we didn’t, no, not then but mum used to take the food out for everyone, you know so that everyone could have some.
Lisa: With everything being so weather-dependent really, did you used to hear the forecasts on the radio?
Judith: Oh yes.
Lisa: Did you have special ways of sort of checking things?
Judith: We used to have to watch the farmer’s weather on the television and we mustn’t speak because it was most important and on occasion, yes, it was just so weather-dependent and then you had to get the, the grain had to be dry and they had to test, had to take that and have it tested or, I remember once or twice bringing the hay in, and it started overheating in the barn and you’d have to, combustion built up and you’d have to move the bales and make sure that they cooled down a bit so silage sort of sorted that out more really you know but they used to do that latterly but oh yes, always, I think even on, was it a Sunday there used to be a farming programme on a Sunday. I know there’s Countryfile now but there used to be a farmer’s weather and things for the week and you mustn’t talk (laughs). Then of course, before they had a combine they had to wait for other people to have theirs done and then come over here and get it done. Then, I don’t know if that’s still there, Whitchers Pit, which wasn’t on their land but there was a pit where all the rubbish got thrown in, you know, bits and pieces. Everyone seemed to go to Whitchers Pit (laughs). Who Whitcher was I don’t know but, it’s just along the lane a bit (laughs).
Lisa: Did you marry a farmer Judith?
Judith: No, I didn’t (laughs), no he was an engineer (laughs), but my brother, her Grandfather was a farmer at Haven Street so she was sort of more into it (laughs). No so I didn’t (laughs). I suppose there were farmers around, because there were Morris’s and then there were Kings wasn’t there, David, I can’t remember his name, er. Newman. The Cheeks down there and the Morris’s over that way again (laughs).
Lisa: Do you remember any big changes after you’d married and weren’t actually living at home? Do you remember discussions about big changes down there, “Shall we do this?” or new things coming in?
70 minutes 13 seconds
Judith: I suppose mum and dad moved up here and Cameron changed the house a lot. Yes I think it was just lack of manpower, a lot of it, you know, all being done mechanically so that, you know, where there used to be a lot of people, like with haymaking, it’s just machines doing a lot of it. I think that’s most of the things you know. We used to have, and this is going back again, this isn’t sort of different things, watercress beds at the stream at the back. I don’t know if you know they’re there, or they were and they were looked after by Daniel Lee and Mrs Brodie. Daniel Lee had a bad knee and he used to, Hoppy Lee I think we used to call him, and there was Mrs Brodie and she had quite a brood of children and they used to come and pick the watercress and sell it and they had a fight out the back once, over whose watercress it was and dad had to stop them, on his land, his watercress, but they were fighting over it but I don’t think any injuries there but mmm, yes it got a bit fraught. Then I remember one time a prisoner escaped; Foxy Fowler and he was around this area because mum had seen him, you know, walking along the road and she said hello to him. He’d escaped from Parkhurst I think it was, yes (laughs). That brings back memories too, that’s a long time ago.
Lisa: Well thank you very much.
Judith: You’re welcome.
Lisa: That’s it. Just finally, what was your favourite thing, doing on the farm? Was it collecting eggs or feeding calves or what? What might it have been?
Judith: Yes I quite liked collecting eggs because I had to wash them as well, you know, if they were mucky you had to wash them to be sold. What did I like most? I suppose I liked driving the tractor and dad feeding the cattle, you know, throwing out the bales of hay, I liked doing that. I didn’t used to mind mucking out the shed really, you know, just, I suppose I’m an outdoor person you see so just liked doing most of the things, yes.
Lisa: How old would you have been when you first drove the tractor?
Judith: About seven I expect (laughs). Dad used to put it in gear and just said, “You just drive straight”, you know (laughs). Yes I suppose about that age because he used to work a lot on a Sunday because it was cheaper because if you had some, you know, the farm labourers, you had to pay them extra and I suppose times were quite hard because he had his mother to look after at the time as well. They were in partnership at that time and she was a widow. Yes, so yes, I liked doing that and I just liked walking round the lanes sometimes, you know, and walking back through the fields and mushrooming (laughs), but yes, feeding the calves, collecting eggs, yes it was all good. All these things you just took for granted, you know, and then you look back on them and think oh, those days are gone which is an awful shame but…
Lisa: Well thank you very much.
Judith: You’re welcome.
End of interview.
74 minutes 51 seconds
Transcribed September 2017 by Chris Litton