Memories of Farming in the 1920's
Future of Farming
John Berry early
|On 3rd April 1987 the Tytherington
Local History Group hosted a panel of three Tytherington Farmers, Robert
Hetherington of Barmersland Farm, Bob Williams of
Brook Farm and Bill
Cornock of New House Farm. The discussion was on the topic of
Farming in Tytherington and members of the
Local History Group posed questions
to the knowledgeable panel. The discussion provides a fascinating
insight into the development of a number of different aspects of farming
in the village. There is a legend of the participants at the end
of the discussion.
RP About early memories of mechanisation.
SG Before you had piped water to your fields how did you water your
RH Oh there was ponds, dew ponds. Dew ponds - that this if you have clay
in the bottom the water won't dry away.
RP And how did you cart that to the rest of the stock?
RH There's two wells at the farmhouse - they're 35 feet deep, they're
easy to get out the water for stock or anything like that but since well
let's see how long was it now since the water came up there about 1946,
I think it was, the Company water came down from the A38 and so now
we've got water and electric light and all the rest now.
RP Bill, what about your experiences down at New
BC Well they used to maintain the ponds on a regular basis. During a dry
summer they'd clean the ponds out regularly, my father always used to
say, to maintain as much water in the ponds on the farm they'd regularly
clean them out with horses and carts and well they also had the supplies
from the wells - that was the one they had to fall back on the well
supply. Our well's about 35 foot deep as Mr. Hetherington said and it's
about the same depth as the house is high. We measured it and it's about
18 inches from the .top of water so you wouldn't have to go down very
far at present - it's only about 18 inches before you hit 30 odd feet of
water, I measured it the other day.
RP And would they have moved the stock to the water or moved the water
to the stock?
BC Well it would vary you know, they would either. If there was any
the farmhouse they'd bring it to troughs in the yard but they'd also
haul water away. There was water carts ready to haul the water, in metal
carts. Well we just scrapped ours, well the last week or two. I never
used it, but they'd haul water with water carts.
RH And the more you hauled the more they drank.
RP How did Brook Farm fare?
BW Well by the very nature of the name 'cos we were fortunate in having
a brook and most of the cattle drunk out of the brook if the brook
didn't run dry. But the one in Lattinwell, which is on the lower end of
the farm, that very, very rarely run dry. So the cattle - the brook did
run through the lower fields and that's where they drunk from then but
in all my living memory there's always been piped water at our house, at
the farm, but there is a well there as well as Robert says and ours is
about the same depth. I put the longest ladder I had down there and had
a job to reach the top to get on the top rung you know.
RH There was. some epidemic in Tytherington and then the Squire got the
BW Is that what it was?
RH Yes that's what it was.
PG There was typhoid in about 1903- it's in the
School Log Book.
RP Jean, do you have a follow-up to that question at all?
JG Merely how you got the water from the wells, you presumably got it
out by hand
RH Yes with a chain, there was some pumps but a chain, you put a bucket
on the end of the chain it was as slow as that.
JG How much does a cow drink in a day?
BW If she's heavy in milk she'd drink 40 gallons I'm sure.
JG How many buckets full would that be?
BW Well, quite a lot.
BC But until Company's water they didn't have so many stock on the farm
that was one of the great, especially on the dry land up on the hills
there wouldn't be so many stock. There'd be more sheep.
RP So in comparison with today then, in terms of your herds, how many
would you say you would have had in your herd 60 years ago, well 50 years
ago? What would the sort of nature of the herds be as far as trying to
get the water supply to them?
RH Well it was limited to how many hand milkers there was. If you had
too many cows you couldn't get the milk.
RP Is that much the same on New House or no?
RH The new machines will milk any number.
BW Ours I know as far as I can remember was around 20-25 head now we're
up over a hundred.
RP And would that be using much the same amount of land?
BW Well, almost or not much more.
WH Look, Mr. Chairman, unlike many of the villages round Tytherington
had its water supply in 1900. It's quite a long time when you think that
places like Rangeworthy and Cromhall and parts of Thornbury didn't have
water supplies til after the Second World War. Tytherington were very
fortunate in having a water supply as early as that and I expect it was
to do with that typhoid epidemic and Mr. Hardwicke fortunately
BW Could I ask Mr. Humphries where would you think that water came from
WH Well I was always given to understand that our water came from
Chippenham Moyne up on the Cotswolds where the pub is the Cat and the
Custard Pot and it Was hard, You know you had a lot of trouble with
corrosion on ball valves and things like that as a result. But now it's a
circular circuit and it's not, it wouldn't come from any one place. They
can more or less bring it in from wherever they like now.
AB Could I ask Mr. Hetherington - you've got two big ponds up there,
haven't you? Now are they natural or artificial? Were they dug out to
begin with do you think?
RH Well they were probably dug out, dug down to the clay - you must have
clay in the bottom of a pond or the water will soak away.
AB There isn't clay in your soil is there, isn't it all limestone
straight down? The clay must be brought in mustn't it?
RH Oh they usually slope down to the bottom, to the centre - they don't
usually go straight down.
RP No, but were the materials actually brought in to build the pond?
RH Some of it may have been brought in or moved from one place to
another. Supposing one side of the pond had clay and the other didn't
you'd move the clay from one side to another and then once you'd got
water in there it would gradually increase with the cold and the dew and
all the rest of it. But you know there's limits to what amounts of water
you can obtain like that without having a run off from the fields
somewhere as well as the actual dew working as an added quantity for
BC Another thing interrupting, they used to conserve the water from all
the buildings as much as possible, from the houses and they made, which
was a great laborious task, stone troughs out of solid blocks of stone
to catch the water. We've got several stone water troughs.
RP And would your stock come to drink from those?
BC Yes, when it was available.
RH A tremendous amount comes from a Dutch barn if you catch it all as it
BC Even in ordinary small houses they used to save all their water but
now it goes straight into a drain and away - they don't worry about it.
They always used to save the water especially for feeding the pigs 'cos
every old cottage had a pig, if you look round the village,• had a pig
sty originally. Every old cottage - that was a familiar sight a pig sty
attached to a cottage.
Mechanisation of Milking
RP Right well I'll move on to a different subject now or much the
same theme I suppose from Mr. Humphries, I have one already earmarked
for him in terms of the horses related to the machinery.
WH Yes, well all I put down here is horses to tractors. You know my
memories of farming, I've got a number of things down here that have all
happened when we were really Just growing up. I mean, I can remember
going up to Brook Farm and being allowed to milk a poor old cow called
Diana and I never got very much out of her I'll tell you and I've never
tried since but I mean that was the days when you hand milked and my
question is, for the benefit of people, the change over from hand
milking to machine milking.
BW Well, we had our first milking machine in 1939 that was really the
start of the mechanisation as you say. Other farmers, Mr. Kingston our
neighbour, he'd had one in before we had. I know my uncle living way up
in Evenlode by Moreton-in-Marsh he had one when I was quite a small
,boy. That's when we started ours 1939.
WH About 16 then, well 18.
RB I think the milking machine of that time was made by Lister's of
Dursley was it not?
BW Most were, yes quite a lot.
RB And, as Robert can bear me out, old Martin Andrews, he's dead now -
he used to live under the Hill and he used to go round selling milking
machines in somewhere round about 33-34, something about that 1933-34,
and he had his living in milking machines. I don't know whether you ever
Robert or not.
BW You didn't get a milking machine too early.
RH We didn't get one until about 1945 or something like that.
RP And when did New House get its milking in the 1950s?
BC Dad didn't favour milking machines.
RB A lot of old farmers didn't, did they?
RH Of course, more people started with buckets and then changed over to
more modern methods.
RP How has milking machine methods changed? Have they developed el lot
or is it basically still the same principles of the past?
BW Well the actual milking principles are more or less the same but, of
course, as Robert said we started with buckets and you carried the milk
and tipped it through the cooler and let it run into the churns and
wheeled the churns out and put them on the stand and put them on the
milk tanker. Well then they said "Well this is all very well but we'll
get internal milking." and that was the next thing that came through
milk direct into the churns and that saved a lot of carrying you Just
had to put an internal cooler in the top of the churns and put the
churns up on the stand and then, of course, the great thing is and that
is what has made the Job so much easier and well made so much more milk.
That's where the butter mountains and the milk mountains and
subsequently, of course, the quotas which we are now all faced with has
RP How much more can you get from a cow. now than say in the days, when
you used to hand milk or can't you?
RH It depends on what breed you're using. A Friesian cow can give a lot
more milk than the ordinary white ones. They can even get ill and lie on
the ground for two or three days or a week and get up and not be milked
and then get up on their feet again and come back into milk the same as
if nothing happened. I've known that happen once or twice. With lame
feet you know and they couldn't stand. It's most extraordinarily
wonderful how a Friesian cow is for giving milk and if you give her all
the food she needs the milk's just as good as it was from the brown cow.
If you buy your cow that might give seven or eight gallons and then you
only give her enough food for four or five gallons well then it's very
RP Bill how much would you have got say from your average cow before you
had milking machines and how much would you get nowadays?
BC Well I suppose the maximum was about three gallons a day in the olden
days with a shorthorn, something like three gallons a day, but now it
can be about eight or ten gallons a cow, with a good Friesian.
WH But is that to do with the milking machine or the
BC Not to do with the milking machine, it's breeding and feeding.
WH It's because everything's come up.
BW Artificial insemination, of course, is another thing.
WH I had a question on that but I think that was ruled out.
RP No, no. As we're on the subject perhaps you'd like to expand on that
and explain how it's developed.
BW Whereas years ago farmers just couldn't afford it to pay the amount
of money to keep a bull good enough to increase the yields of his cattle
but, of course, now this artificial insemination has come in they keep
the bulls, you just pay for what you use. They breed them for more milk
and butterfats and all this sort of thing, better shaped cows, quieter
cows, you name it
WH They've got it.
BW Well that's right but they don't always work out right
nevertheless, do they Bill?
BC No you still get some kickers, wild ones but they tend to run in
families like human beings - you know you get a quiet family, you breed
from the quiet family or I hope you will.
RP We're talking about the cows?
BC Yes, we're talking about cows but they are a bit like humans -
they're variable the families you know colour, eyes, legs, shape.
RP Anybody want to follow up on that?
WH I'm not saying a word.
BC Next question, please!
Changes in Farming Practice
RP I'll ask Ambrose if he might ask the question he mentions about
changes in practice and how it's impressed.
AJ First, I must say it's obvious that the panel are just getting into
their stride. Right, what change in agricultural practice has affected
and impressed you most during your farming life?
RP Bill, if we could start with you on that one.
BC I thought Bob might like to answer that one.
RP He's started all the others.
BC Well not in my farming life, because it changed before, but I think
the greatest invention to the farmer would be the wellington. That's a
bit before my time but having to put up with all the sort of weather we
put up with this winter in just leather shoes through flood, you know,
tempest, snow, everything, they must have had a pretty rotten time at
times, you know. I think the wellington was the greatest thing on the
farm. You don't see a farmer without a wellington on now. Well not until
the summer comes anyway, which is about July now I think isn't it, it
seems to take until July before it warms up now.
RP The wellington as we know it today - I know it originates from the
Duke - but the wellington we know of today as being the farmer's
wellington when did that really come into vogue?
shows Arthur Clements & Ken Brown on Eight Acres c 1946 with Baden Hill
quarry in the background
BW Well I can remember wearing boots and leggings myself.
BC They used to have a pair of leggings on there that's what they used
to wear, from the boot upwards you see, to keep the muck and wet off.
RB I believe the wellingtons came in in the early 30s, wasn't it.
RP So it's this century.
RB Yes very, very slowly.
BC So if there was cattle the other side of the stream and the stream
was in flood and they had to wade through they just got soaking wet and,
you know, they had to go home and change and what have you but
wellingtons - up to a certain limit and tractors to drive through - they
just had to go through it regardless years ago.
RB They had to walk everywhere then, didn't they?
WH That's the last answer everybody expected, that's quite interesting.
RP Mr. Hetherington what has impressed you most in the changes or
affected you most?
RH I think there's several changes that's very important the electric
and water, oh many others. Well the tractor is a great help and, of
course, the milking machine again, that's since the war all those things
have taken place, though I think that is p great boon compared to what
it was with a pair of horses. Trying to plough with a pair of horses -
they didn't plough many acres in a day with horses and they weren't able
to get over the fields quick enough at the right time to kill weeds of
all description. The tractor's very quick, you can use the day and night
if you wish to if you want to get a job done very, very quickly while
horses have only done a day's work and then that must stop. I think that
is a great help.
RP When ploughing with a pair of horses how many acres could you expect
to plough in a day?
RH Well you'd want good horses to plough three-quarters of an acre as
far as I remember.
RP And with a tractor and plough these days what could you expect to
RH Oh, with a large enough tractor you could plough 8 or 9 acres I
BC I expect David has done as much as that.
RH Four or five furrows.
DN Well I would say you aren't far off of 20 now with big tractors.
RH Well it depends on the fields really doesn't it.
RP Bob, what changes have most affected you?
Well I would say that the question has already been answered - the
coming of the milking machine I would think has been the greatest
change. It made such a difference. As someone said earlier it depended
on how many men you had on how many cows you kept but you see one man
now he can milk a hundred cows on his own in a modern parlour whereas if
a man was a good hand milker he could reckon to milk eight an hour. So
you can see the difference. That has made such a tremendous difference.
RP Ambrose, have you got a supplementary
AJ Yes, I'm sure Bill's wellingtons shook us all and how true. My only
comments would be to top panel and others most of us have a knowledge of
the last war when the subs were sinking boats and the food position and
now today we're in the position we are today - exporting. One of the
things that has impressed me and thinking 'three Sundays for oats',
isn't that right Mrs. Howell? Three Sundays oats stood in their stooks.
(General assent) Well now the one that really strikes me is the combine.
AJ Especially as the weather as it is. ,
BW During the war, soon after the war, during the war. I think the War
Agricultural Committee came round contracting during the war didn't they
and that was in the days then of bagging. Someone rode on the combine
with bags and you filled them up and let them fall off and then when the
combine had gone home at night you had to turn round and load them all
up again. That's right 2 isn't it.
RP So before that you used to flail it, did you?
BW Oh no a reaper.
RH Two and a quarter hundredweight in a bag.
WH Moxham's thrashing machine.
RP Another question that really relates to this, that's been partly
raised already, was when can you remember the last lot of corn stooks in
Tytherington? General view Beginning of the war, after the war, 1950s, we
used to have them in the church for Harvest Festival brought from the
RP What was the purpose of the stooks themselves?
BC Well, to leave the corn out to dry out in the (summery conditions?).
As Ambrose said to stay out three Sundays for oats or to hear three lots
of church bells my father used to say.
RB I expect the stooks were still in the fields in the 50s wasn't it, in
the late 50s?
DN After that. We used to have to corn.
BW The idea of the stooks at one time, you know, were for tithing
purposes and you stook them in tens and the church had one out of ten
that was the - that was right, Mr. Baddeley, wasn't it?
RB God help your arms if you had any thistles in your wasn't it?
DN Well going back to stooking though and what was the last time you
seen stooks a lot did grow wheat a purpose for thatching. General Yes
BW The wheat didn't have to stand very long if it was clean. 'If there
was weeds in it, of course, they had to dry out before you put them in a
stack. Oats would sweat if you put them in. As Ambrose said they had to
stay out three weeks otherwise they'd sweat when you put them in. Of
course, nowadays only the grain goes in, you know it doesn't go into a
rick any more. Straw is left out until it's baled.
BC They still grow a limited amount in Dorset for thatching purposes.
There is still some straw used apart from reeds.
RP And would they use it in this area or would they use it in the
vicinity of Dorset though?
BC Well, they'd move it about the country, you know. It would be
specialist farmers growing it but the area in Dorset where there's a lot
of thatched cottages and they'd use it a lot and there'd be thatchers in
RP Would that depend on the quality of the stalk itself?
BC Yes, there's a certain breed. In fact, they said there's a shortage,
they're very short of straw this time and they're urging farmers to grow
more this time in that area. Holdfast is the breed of - Holdfast wheat
is an old traditional wheat they used to grow and they still grow now
for going through the thrashing machine. It still maintains its long
length of straw when it goes through the thrashing machine but once it
goes through a combine, a modern combine, it's all beat up and it's no
longer straight so they can't use it for thatching.
RHo They used to thatch the ricks too, didn't they?
BC Yes, in fact we've got some thatching sticks, I nearly brought some
tonight. We've still got some sticks made by Mr. Percy Alway - you know
Perc down here. I can put a bit of information if you want it on Perc.
He was the last thatcher in the village and going back to the corn Mrs.
Hollingsworth, you all know, she was the last gleaner in the village.
She used to glean in between the stooks.
DH I can remember her quite well, I can remember her clearly.
RH Some told me she would glean in between the stooks and
the little stooks as well.
RP Anybody else have a particular question on this theme that we're
dwelling on at the moment?
PG Yes, Mr. Chairman, could members of the panel expand a little bit on
when in their particular recollections machinery came to the village -
the first tractors, whether they were steam tractors or whether they
were petrol driven tractors, whether they were metal tyred or rubber
tyred tractors. We mentioned the first combine but what about the muck
spreaders for instance. I mean years ago it used to be a man on the back
of a dray with a fork, wasn't it?
BW Well, of course, talking of tractors I suppose you call a steam
tractor a tractor and a thrashing machine would come round with a steam
tractor pulling that round as long as I can remember and as someone said
RB And Reg (Hand?) he used to have one, didn't he?
BW Yes, that was after Moxham's.
RP There was (Mr. Perry's?) over at Stock Hills, they used to have
threshers as well.
RB Moxham's was the first and farmers used to have to buy the coal,
isn't that right, half a ton of coal or whatever it was.
BW And haul the water.
RB And then you had the chaps walking around looking for a job to sleep
on the farm in the hay or the straw and they'd have a gallon of cider a
day and a few shillings or what have you, didn't they?
RP Mr. Hetherington when did you get your first muck spreader up at your
RH About 1945 I expect - an old fashioned , not holding a very large
quantity of manure at each working but they were very good improvements
on the old method.
RP Which would have been just manually charged out?
RH You could get out manure much faster now with a spreader at one shot,
you can use little ones or large ones. Certain types you can back them
into a shed and fill it with forks into the shredder. If you use a large
one you leave it in the open and it will hold four tons or more and then
it beats it out with chains. It beats it out nice and finer than the
more modern types and spreads it very, very evenly.
RP Peter, do you have a follow-up to that?
PG No that's fine.
BW Well, I would say we bought our first tractor - I remember it coming
to our farm a Fordson Standard on spade lugs on iron wheels, iron front
wheels and iron rear wheels - back in 1943 and the cost of that tractor
then was £177 10s. - that was what it cost. We've just taken delivery of
a new one - I'm sorry I can't tell you what - not much change out of
RH Well we bought a rotten old tractor - the first old tractor we bought
was something just after 1940 and it was £40.
RP You got a bargain.
RH We drove it for two years and it done all the ploughing and
everything we needed it to do and cut corn with the binder on several
other farms and then about 1942 or 3 we did buy a newer type with on
spade lugs, for £172 I think it was, at Bennett's over at Chipping
Sodbury and that was an improvement then until we got tired of spade
lugs and rubber tyres had to be bought for it and they were about £100 I
think Just for a set of four and the cast iron centres to hold the
BW Nearly as dear as the tractor weren't they - to put rubber tyres on
was nearly as dear as buying the tractor.
RH Nearly as dear as buying the tractors as you had to get the centres,
the cast iron centres, to put the tyres on.
RP What about Newhouse, Bill? Was that much the same situation?
BC Yes, our first tractor was a Fordson with spade lugs, that was metal
spikes that would stick in the ground to stop it slipping and you had to
put special bands on if you went on the road 'cos you'd sort of dig into
the tarmac and make a mess and then you gradually advanced to rubber
tyres. Our first diesel was in 1956 and we've still got it - a little
grey Fergie. I just use it for yard scraping now but prior to that was
the use of horses and I remember using horses and I expect you can but
we've also got evidence that I've found at Newhouse Farm that they used
oxen in the village. They must have been quite common at one stage 'cos
we found ox shoes in a smoking chamber by the fireside. I mention this
because you're a historic society and they were discarded in about - we
found a newspaper 1769 so they were using oxen up to 1769 at least at
Newhouse Farm and probably other farms.
DN When I was ploughing, that was Mill Farm, occasionally one would come
up you know they would gradually work out.
RP Right, if I might move on to a different subject Beryl has a
question relating to fertilisers I think.
BF What is your opinion of modern day fertilisers as opposed to organic
farming of earlier years? Do you think lasting damage is being done to
the soil by the use of fertilisers?
RP Which one would like to start on that?
RH They're produced with chemicals back from more or less the same as
fishes, birds on the rocks. You see it's more or less the same only it's
got to be treated before it can be made back into a fertiliser and it's
most useful really. Some say it's wrong for your system to eat food
which is grown from fertilisers but I don't really believe there's
anything in that. I don't think so long as you can get the stuff to
grow, I don't think that what you do if you can get it to grow and look
natural, I think there's nothing wrong with it.
BC Well fertiliser as Robert says has been a great improver of soil,
especially poorer soils, to get good crops from them and it has made
bountiful supplies where nothing hardly grew before but we seem to have
got to the stage where perhaps we're using too much when people don't
want it. Perhaps it should be more rationalised and conserved because
it's a fossil fuel which is not endless or unless there is an
alternative supply 'cos there doesn't appear to be any form of planning
ahead in the Ministry of Agriculture to my mind. I'm just speaking
personally, the others may differ with me, but there's no long term
planning as to what's going to happen when these fossil fuels run out.
They say that oil's going to last another 30 years, perhaps 40 years,
what's going to happen after that? We're using so much and they talk
about dumping butter in the sea and all that sort of thing because
there's a surplus in Europe. We can produce the stuff because it
nobody's mentioned before it's a great thing that's been inv nted or
made from fossil fuels fertilisers - it's why we're keeping 50 cows or a
100 cows instead of 20 30 years ago. Have we gone too fast in too short
a time? - I don't know but there doesn't seem to be any planning for the
future. What's going to happen when the fossil fuels run out? Is there
going to be an alternative supply from the sum to produce growth?
Perhaps we are using too many nitrates. They say nitrates are getting
into the water supply and could cause cancer. I don't know, I may be
wrong. Organic farming in itself I think can be damned hard work you
need - like I said • on some poorer soils you'd probably have to cut 10
acres to get a wagon load of hay 20 years ago whereas you put fertiliser
on and you can take 10 wagons in to that field and fill them. So it's
been a great thing to provide plentiful supplies but I've just told you
what could happen and is there any planning ahead when it all runs out?
Are we going to have to go back to organic farming or is there going to
be an alterna ive substitute?
RB The thing is the public going to pay for the organic to be there, are
we going to produce enough, can we produce enough with organic farming?
BW No, not at the moment we couldn't - at the moment there's no way we
could produce enough with organic farming.
RB The farmers would be broke. The danger is that is what's in
everybody's minds and what is that's poisonous in the water and the
streams and a different thing all together, we don't know what out of
the sprays at a later date.
RP Bob, how has it affected you, the fertiliser? the nitrogen. Really I
think in Beryl's, it’s the nitrates what have you. The sprays is
sidekicks we are going to get
RH Well, I don't think the fertilisers make anyone get cancer or
anything like that providing you didn't eat it from tins and it was
preserved with other preservatives after it's grown. Eating from tins
and that sort of thing I think that's what really more likely to give
you cancer than anything else.
BF Do you think sprays are harmful to the wildlife like the birds and
rabbits and things like that?
BW Not really, if properly applied I don't think they are. The worse
thing, of course, is bees you must keep them, as Mr. Grudgings will tell
you, you must not spray when bees are around. I don't think it makes any
difference to any other wildlife provided you use them as directed on
the cans. But to go back to the organic side have you ever tried eating
organic food in large quantities. I doubt if you'd ever get enough
because you'd find all your potatoes had wireworms in them and eelworms,
the butterflies and caterpillars in all the cabbages, the corn would be
full of mildew and any goodness knows what. So if. you want organic food
you certainly will have to pay for it.
RP That seems to be the bottom line.
BW Well there are organic farms about, aren't there, but they only
specialise in certain things.
AB And they charge' more.
BW A lot more.
RH Without the modern fertilisers and sprays and that I don't think
you'd have enough food to keep the people alive unless you bought it
RP Anybody else have a question on the fertiliser and spray theme at all
or any thoughts? If not I'll move on to a question about orchards.WH
When I was a lad again - coming up to Brook Farm, Bob, there was always
the orchard down over the steps and there were - you could go out and
have a. Morgan Sweet and nobody complained and my question is 'Orchards.
have they disappeared and if so why?',
RB Does Bob doesn't make enough cider.
BW In this part of the country they have but in other parts of the
country they have expanded - particularly cider apples and dessert. In
other parts of the country they have but not here. Our own poor old
orchard unfortunately has nearly had its chips completely - in fact, we
lost four trees now and that I think was through laying the hedge up the
side, which we thought we'd do as a bit of conservation here then and
make the place look a bit tidy. We layered the hedge, in comes the' snow
and fetched down two and in come the wind and fetched down two more.
RP A two edged sword.
BW Well that's it but certainly I did plant 15 apple trees myself a bit
back, well 20 years ago I suppose, but the cows got at them. We didn't
fence them properly and we've only got one left now.
RH The haymakers won't drink cider nowadays though they want beer
BW Yes, well they don't work as hard now, Bob.
RH Well one man we had there years ago when cider was available - I know
one chap as used to live just over the road and he'd drink a quart or so
to start the morning for spreading manure with a fork and then he'd fill
a half-gallon jar with cider you see to use as he was doing the
(filling?), he'd come back and have another great jugful to have with
his lunch and then he'd fill the half- gallon jar again and then he'd
come back and the strange thing about him he wasn't the least bit
affected, he wasn't the least bit giddy or drunk or anything, not in the
RB He'd work it off Bob, that's what it was.
RH And he was spreading as much as two men.
RP Do you have any orchards on your farm?
RH There's very few trees in the orchard now. There's a few Bramleys
that I planted about 35 years ago but the other, the cider apples is all
fallen down. You see without the proper apples made for cider, bitter
sweets, the cider you make from ordinary eating apples can be quite
bitter and nasty tasted,. it couldn't be very well drunk.
RP Bill, what about your farm now? Have you got many orchards on that
lot or none at all?
BC Well we've got three but only a small one has got apple trees in less
than sort of 25 years old and they're mostly eating varieties and a few
RP Bob, you actually do some cider pressing yourself up on Brook Farm,
do you still do it?
BW Yes, well up to now yes. I've threatened to back it „st'" cider, yes.
BW Well I can give you a rough estimate - that you get 140 gallons of
cider from a ton of apples. That's as near as I can tell you.
RP And how many trees would it take to get the 100 ton?
BW Well according to the size of the trees.
RH It varies from year to year very, very much.
BW We have made as much as 60 gallons from one tree but that is, of
course, very variable question. We buy most of our apples in now for
cider making - they come from Hereford.
RP What can you do to an orchard to help it grow more trees or have you
Just got to leave it to stand?
BW Well you've got to plant more, haven't you.
RP Well I mean to produce the fruit from the tree.
BW People, of course, with apple orchards and there are acres and acres
about mind of apple orchards, not in Tytherington, near the cider
factories up at Bulmers in that area there are and at Whiteways down in
Devon, there are any amount of apple orchards but then they tend them
properly like we would tend our other crops. They go out and look at
them, they prune them in the winter, they greaseband them and they spray
them with insecticides and fertilisers and all sorts so there's no
maggots in the apples and they farm exactly the same with those things
as we do ours.
RH Certain types of soil won't grow fruit of the proper quality to make
cider, will it?
BW No it won't.
RH (Coalpit Heath?) won't.
BW No and tell you why 'cos there's too much iron in the soil and your
cider will come out black.
RH And taste very bitter.
BW That's right, yes.
RP Have you a supplementary
WH In those days that I can remember when you had your own orchard, Bob,
and you made cider were there various sorts of apples that were planted
deliberately so that they would blend into
BW Yes, you're quite right there were and there still are. To give you
an example up at Kite's Nest up between Wotton and they were Greaves,
they were cider makers years and years ago and we've been up there and
had a look around and the rows of trees in their orchards were planted
in such that if they walked across them they would pick up a proper
blend of cider apples - some bitter sweets, some bitter sharps and some
sweets and all sorts of things like that and if they walked down the
lines they'd get all one sort but if they walked across the orchard they
would get a proper blend of apples and that's how it were used.
RP Anybody else got a question on the orchard and fruit theme?
DN Do you still put beetroot in the cider now, Bob, you know
BW Well that is not an artificial colouring, is it? I can say our cider
is free from preservatives, free from artificial colouring - we do put
beetroot in sometimes but that's not artificial,
RHo Well my father used to say that the best manure for apple trees was
from the old privy.
BC Well I think they say potash, don't they for trees, potash. You put
the old apple musk round trees but potash chiefly for trees, I think.
The reason why it's gone out the village is because we're too far away,
you know cider making and fruit growing, is because we're too far away
as has been mentioned from factories like at Hereford or Somerset, we're
too far away and our own cider mill's gone in the village as you know
from Mr. Curtiss' at Duck Street where we all used to go before Bob had
BW It's the same mill, Bill.
DN Cider mill, yes.
BC It used to be quite a concern you know and people always used to go
and have their cider made and there used to be one down at, I think
there used to be a press down at Pendick's I believe.
RB At Miss King's, yes.
BC They used to treat it with esteem. We've got a collection of cider
taps I discovered in one corner of the cellar and Janice has polished
them up and discovered they're all brass or copper and bronze of various
designs and most of them lockable so they used to lock the taps. So I
don't know whether they had their own particular cask so that one
wouldn't pinch from the other or what, I don't know. This must have been
before the Cornocks were there perhaps when the Pullens lived there
before us, I don't know but I don't know what these taps they are
RP Bill, Just for those that aren't all that familiar with
Tytherington's layout where exactly was that cider mill.
BC What in Duck Street? Well they call it the Malt House now.
RB Where Mrs. Brundrett lives.
BC Mr. Gibbons bought and had demolished.
RB They made cider there every day, six days a week.
WH And you could get your petrol as well.
BC All the farmworkers used to drink cider and the ladies used to drink
teaand tea being a very expensive commodity 'cos they always used to
have little tea caddies in the houses and they were lockable you know so
that the maids wouldn't take any home and I think with the state of the
well water very suspect with, as you said, typhoid in the water you know
cider ?1as probablypurer than most things to drink and everybody drank
cider and the maids would go down to the cellar - I'm talking about
farmhouses 'cos there was usually a housekeeper or a maid in the big
farmhouses or houses where they made cider and they'd fetch Jugs every
night for farmworkers if they lodged in the farm, for the farmer and his
wife and the rest of the family to drink. They would drink cider rather
than cocoa or tea before going to bed.
RP They would drink that in much the same way as we drink tea these
days? BC Yes.
RH There was a slight drawback with getting men to the thresher and one
thing and another because some of them had so much alcohol in them that
a lot of them would be getting drunk.
RHo At Stidcott they used to put a piece of beef in the barrel to give
it body they used to say. Did you do that?
BC That's right.
BW No, I don't. General Dead rats.
BW But I know someone who does or has and it took me a long time to find
that secret out from him but I suppose he must have had a drop too much
himself one day and I asked him what do you do to your cider or how do
you get this and he wouldn't tell me for a long, long time - he doesn't
live too far away now. It was beautiful cider.
RB (It's the bones you see?) in the bottom of the cask isn't it, Bob?
RP Right, well if there's no other questions on this theme then move
on to another tack. Jean, you had one on timber.
JG Did you grow or do you grow timber for fuel on your farms or timber
for use on your farms? Did you or do you now?
RH Well it's not especially grown for use of any description - otherwise
most of it you'd use would be old trees, crooked trees for firewood or
fallen apple trees but there would be oak trees standing here and there
all over the farm that would be used should be need arise but it
wouldn't be large quantities.
JG I mention this because close to us there is an oak tree that's been
pollarded and it was done many years ago because the branches , but it's
done what six, eight feet high so that it would be out of the way of the
cattle presumably but it's not a practice that's done now, I presume,
but I presume then it was for fuel or for use on the farm - I don't
RH Mostly for fuel is what we'd be using but if the occasion arose we
would have one of the trees sawn down. I did saw one down about the
middle of the war time and made a wagon from it.
PG You made a wagon yourself. •
RH Yes an oak tree and made a wagon from it. We made the wagon in the
winter and it took three weeks to make it and it rained almost every
day. We'd feed the cattle in the morning and then go in the barn and
start hammering up the wagon.
RP If I may just cut in, I've been asked by those at the back of the
hall if members of the panel and those at the front of the hall could
speak up a little bit because they do find i a little bit hard to hear.
I know it's difficult and I'm perhaps the worst enemy at this so if you
could speak up a little bit it would help those at the back to hear
what's being said and Bill have you got any thoughts on timber growing
and use on the farm?
BC Well I think they used to use it not Just for fire years ago. They
used to have specific purposes for the different trees. They used to
shroud the ash trees for stakes, that was before these tannalised stakes
came in, they used to definitely shroud them for stakes, ash. The withy
trees, the willow trees, they would use for sticks and rods. As I said
Mr. Alway was a stick maker - used to live at Itchington - and I've
still got a bundle of his sticks on the farm. Hazel and apple would be
made into faggots - you know what faggots are? They're sort of bundles
tied up with either string or cord of some description for the bread
ovens in the village and I remember my father saying that dad used to
take faggots of wood up to the bread oven , I can't remember, and he
used to take faggots of wood up to Mr. Cassell on the Hill - that was
going up the old road before they built the new road - he said he went
up there years ago with faggots of wood.
RB Mrs. Powell, wasn't it, used to have a bakery on top by
RB No, but before she went to Callicroft - up by West Quarry, wasn't it?
WH Yes, up by West Quarry.
BC I think it was Callicroft.
RB But she had her bakery up above by Bob Williams
DN Weren't faggots used under where they used to make the, you know
DN (Saddle?) that's what I couldn't think of.
RHo And spicks and didn't they used to winnow with spicks ready for
thatching. Did anyone make hurdles ever at Tytherington for sheep?
BC I hadn't heard. Of course, another tree that we haven't mentioned
tonight is the walnut tree. Most farms had a walnut tree in the village
you know to provide walnuts for the winter. If you look in the school
registers you'll see all the children in October would come to school
with brown stained fingers where they'd been getting the green coatings
off the walnuts and that would stain their fingers like as though you'd
been smoking cigarettes you could still do it nowadays if you wanted to.
RP How many walnut trees are there around in the village these days?
BC Not very many but there used to be one at the back of the school here
in Pearce's field. Bob says he's got one at West Street. There's some at
Bishop's Farm, there's some down at Stidcott.
RHo There used to be four or five - I think there's two or three now.
AB And you've got a lovely one.
BC We've got about five. I planted five or six,
RH I don't think trees are growing as well as they used to. I think
they're talking about the acid rain. I know of several,trees dying that
didn't seem to die 20 years or 30 years ago.
BW They're 30 years older now Bob.
BC I now what he means though. Some of them seem to be sort of dying
RH They fade away, don't they?
BC They do.
RH Even though they're not old.
RP What about the problem with the elm? Did you have many elms on the
farms that suffered or
BW Yes terribly, terribly. I think we were talking earlier tonight about
how cold these winds are and I think a lot of it is to do with the loss
of the elms.
RB It sounds like your hedge, Bob, when you were talking about cutting
your hedge down in your fields.
RB I mean all the elms are gone all the way through the country.
BW Yes, I think that's got a great deal to do with it.
RP You mean the loss of a windbreak?
BW Yes, the loss of the windbreak. Even in the winter when there were no
leaves on there was so many elms and so close together that they'd still
stopped the wind from
RH Yes, I think they will - trees are wonderful things for stopping the
BW They are.
RHo There were more hedges too, weren't there and smaller fields?
BW Well not according to what Mr. Baddeley said, what, how long ago that
was, there were three big fields then.
RP Yes, you must remember that hedges, I suppose, is a modern
institution in that sense.
RH A wall or a bank won't really stop wind much but strangely trees
AB We're not planting many new ones, are we?
AB Are we planting many new trees to take the place of the elms?
RH Well we hope to plant some new hedges in the next year or so if I
live long enough.
RB I don't think you see the trees growing in the hedgerows like you
used to because of the modern hedge trimmers.
RH Well there's an occasional one here, you get them in the hedges - you
can't do much about them, you don't wish to chop them down.
RB Yes,,but nobody grows them, you know puts new trees in.
RH Oh, it's difficult to plant new trees like that. If you grub the
hedge right out and then you make a whole fresh planting all the lot
grows better but if you try to put one in where there's a break in the
hedge the roots of the other parts go underneath and take the
nourishment and stop the new tree growing.
BC The only way to get trees in a hedge, if there's that type in there
anyhow, is to let the hedge grow up.
RH Yes, that helps with it.
BC And then you can leave the tree.
RH You can leave one that's looking straight.
BC But like you said if you try to put one in - I tried to plant several
in hedges the roots come in and choke it out. But if one comes out
naturally and the hedge is left, but there aren't many left nowadays
they're all sort of trimmed down low, but if a hedge is left - say for
10 or 20 years there'd probably be, rather than just the whitethorn,
you'd probably get another species - elm or sycamore or an oak come up
in it - then you could leave that one when you laid the hedge the next
time but mechanical hedge trimmers they Just don't want to stop to leave
them, anything specimen in there. What I have done is if I see an oak
coming up in a hedge, or a particular one that I wanted to leave, I
would tell the hedge trimmer, because I have a regular man to do my
hedges, and I leave a bit each side of this particular or mark it and
put a stick up and then you get your tree coming on because it's much
better to have one naturally grown in the hedge than to have to plant
one in there - they just won't take.
PG I was going to ask Mr. Hetherington, Mr. Chairman, if that wagon that
you built is it still there? Is it still in existence?
PG Well we ought to have a photograph of that, Mr. Chairman, surely?
RH And still in use.
PG My word.
RH And it looks quite well.
PG You did the wheels yourself, the wheels and the wheelwrighting?
RH Oh, the wheels were bought from lorries you know because the boy that
worked up there a few years ago he told the blacksmith down in Thornbury
that we made a wagon up there and he said "That you bet, that is a
wagon!" because sometimes you make things at home and they wouldn't turn
out as well as you'd expect.
Hedgerows and Dutch Elm disease
RP Anybody else any other questions on the theme of trees and hedgerows?
BW Well over the last three or four years we have laid three of four
hedges and as Bill said they were up 20 or 30 foot high. We have left
elm trees growing and I hope they will stick it now because the elm
trees and ash and sycamore. If you want to walk along the lane along
towards Itchington and Southmead Lime you can see them growing on either
side and I hope they will continue to grow. We do need them, we're not
all rough and mow everything down in front of us.
RH There is a few young elms coming up on the farm above.
RH They look quite healthy so far.
RP Has the threat of Dutch elm gone now or is it still about.
BW I don't know, I wouldn't know. I was very pleased to see that the
little copse along, just this side of Jack Pullen's, that's gone up very
well hasn't it, on the right? That's grown up very well. Let's only hope
that I haven't seen any Dutch elm in the last couple of years, whether
it's gone or no.
BC Well we just had, we thought it was Dutch elm and I reported it to
the N.F.U. Secretary but we did cut them out straight away. We laid a
hedge, like Bob said, about 30 foot high along by Mr. Baddeley's on the
left hand side and there was about six or seven elms in there and the
next year they were failing just typical Dutch elm disease - half way
through the summer they were going yellow in the leaves - so we cut the
offending ones out and the rest seem alright up to now. As I said I
mentioned it to the N.F.M. that we thought we had Dutch elm re-occurring
and he made a note of it but we haven't seen any since but I hope it
doesn't get established again.
RP Right then if that's the case we'll move on to another subject.
Ambrose has one on our European connection.
AJ How do you feel the EEC has affected your livlihood, I'd
best say ours as well probably?
BW Over the first ten years very well but since then it's gone very
quickly downhill - that's in a nutshell. We've had quite a lot of grants
and things like that to put our houses and places in order and if you
haven't taken them it's been your own fault because there's been nothing
there now. So if you've seen a lot of new buildings and drainage and all
this sort of thing going on over the last, well ever since we've been in
there, until now then that was up to us so if we didn't take it then
it's not there now. So what the future's going to be I wouldn't like to
say. There's more grants on things like conservation, fishing pools,
golf courses, tree planting than there ever is now on any drainage or
putting on new buildings.
RH Our biggest input is costing fantastic compared with what it did 15
years ago - I think that's our biggest enemy at the moment, anything you
buy is what 20 times as dear as it was 15 years ago?
BW Yes, I expect so.
RP And is that as a result of the E.E.C.?
RH The milk's only twice as dear.
BW About that. That's why you've got to make such a large, a lot of milk
for a small profit to make a living.
RP Bill, how's the E.E.C. affected your situation?
BC Robert's covered most of the ground. It seemed to start off quite
well. They were encouraging people to produce more. They didn't say
there was going to be a stop, they said we want more, food is needed and
we went along with that you know and now they suddenly say there's a
surplus in Europe. There's not a surplus in England of milk and I'm
putting the farmer's point of view as fairly as I can without being
political. There's not a surplus in England at present - I think we're
about 80% or just over, or 85% self-sufficient but because we're part of
the E.E.C. their surplus that they've created over there is going to be
allowed within two years to come into this country - French milk, etc. -
and we're not allowed to produce what our own requirements are and
that's why we've got quotas because of the over-production in Europe and
we're part of Europe so the British farmers got to suffer because of
Europe basically now but we weren't told this before.
RH Robert Hetherington
BW Bob Williams
BC Bill Cornock
RP Roger Pullin
JG Jean Grudgings
PG Peter Grudgings
WH Wilf Humphries
AJ Ambrose Johnson
AB Mr. A. Baddeley
RB Reg Brock
DN Dave Niblett
RHo Roger Howell
BF Beryl Fisher