Posts Tagged ‘Agriculture’

Grove Farm Plans

December 7, 2014

This plan has recently turned up at Market Lavington Museum. We do not know its origins, but it looks, perhaps, to have been part of some kind of school project display, produced by an adult. The plan shows the area we generally call Grove Farm.

A plan of Grove Farm, Market Lavington in about 1970

A plan of Grove Farm, Market Lavington in about 1970

Just north of the main road we can see the main farm buildings. This is the area now occupied by the Community Hall. The map is not strictly accurate. The church and churchyard do not reach Parsonage Lane (the road running roughly north) by quite a long shot. For one thing, our museum is in that area.

We can see the site of chicken houses, the pumping station and an area sold for housing. That must be Canada Rise, just above Beechwood.

The plan is somewhat textured. An area near the top has hay stuck on it.

The plan came with a second sheet with added information.


There’s slightly too much for one photo.


And then there’s a cross section map.


We are fairly confident this information dates from very close to 1970. Mr Ron Francis died in 1969 and Canada Rise was being constructed in 1971.

We also think it is a lovely record of a farm which has entirely vanished.

Pond Farm again

November 24, 2014

We looked at Pond Farm back in 2013 and you can click here to see that post.

Pond Farm was one of the hill farms up on Salisbury Plain. It was up above Easterton and the area remains in the Easterton parish. Although used for agriculture, until 1910, Pond Farm land was also used for summer camps by reservist soldiers for some years prior to 1910.

But as the Edwardian era ended the War Department decided that areas of Salisbury Plain in both Market Lavington and Easterton should become a part of a permanent military range. This scene, showing a farm, was to become history.

Pond Farm in Edwardian days - the loneliness of Salisburyn Plain is clear to see

Pond Farm in Edwardian days – the loneliness of Salisburyn Plain is clear to see

This postcard was recently acquired – an EBay purchase then donated to the museum. The card seller dated it as 1905. We’ll just call it Edwardian. It shows the isolated farm, with its shelter belt of trees.

Close up on the farm

Close up on the farm

We can see there is more than one dwelling – a house and a cottage at least. There are sheds and a large barn and a very neat and well thatched stack up on the hill.

A farm was sited here because it was possible to access water in this little valley. That also made it suitable for an army camp and Pond Farm took that role again in 1914 when Canadian soldiers were stationed in the tented encampment whilst training for front line duties.

But by then the farm had gone. It was used as a target by training UK soldiers and no trace of it remains today.

Sadly, too, the location is not now accessible to the public.




Frank Arnold remembered

October 21, 2014

It is a long time since we featured one of our agricultural cartoons that can give insight into the life of the small farmer in the mid-1960s. They were drawn by an artist who just signed EGL.

Frank Arnold lived at Anne’s Farm which is on Spin Hill although you won’t find it now because its name has been changed to Sandmartins Farm. This was Anne’s Farm in about 1979. Frank was still there then.

Anne's Farm on Spin Hill in Market Lavington

Anne’s Farm on Spin Hill in Market Lavington

And now a cartoon.

Mid 60s cartoon showing Frank Arnold taking a break

Mid 60s cartoon showing Frank Arnold taking a break

Here we see Frank taking a break, surrounded by drink, and musing on what might have been. Frank, of course, is attired in braces and a flat cap and clearly indicating he had a good life. In truth he worked hard but did always give the impression that he loved what he did.

There could be an implication that parsons have an easy life. That might have been true back in the 18th century when the vicar may have been very much an absentee with an underpaid curate doing the work. These days the local parson is that bit less local as parishes have been grouped into benefices and the cleric may have charge of five or more churches.

But the artist has caught the spirit of those mid-60s days which was still in the era of ‘you’ve never had it so good’. And before anyone comments, we know those words were never uttered by Harold MacMillan.

Haymaking in 1915

October 6, 2014

1915 was not an easy time anywhere in the UK. Men had volunteered to fight in the war – and they hadn’t got home by Christmas – unless severely injured. The men were not around when it came to agriculture in 1915 – and this was still a time when farming was very labour intensive.

But in Market Lavington, help was at hand for soldiers from the empire were trained on Salisbury Plain. Haymaking was as good a way of keeping fit as any other. And here we see soldiers, taking a quick breather whilst they posed for a photo which is captioned ‘Haymaking on Salisbury Plain – 1915’


Haymaking in 1915

There’s a mix of men, most in unidentified (by us) military uniform but some being local civilians.

Soldiers and civilians are at work

Soldiers and civilians are at work

Local lads have walked up the hill to see the work in progress.

Local youngsters look on

Local youngsters look on

This picture has suffered some of the ravages of time, and having been hung in a smoke filled pub and these images are enhanced to give us a better view.

The card was posted from Market Lavington on August 20th 1915.

The card has a Market Lavington post mark

The card has a Market Lavington post mark

The message suggests that the writer was not much affected by the war.

Nice weather!

Nice weather!

We think the sender may have been a nun, based on another card we have sent from Mona Cottage.

There’s no comment on the war – just the weather!

Trowbridge, Melksham and District Agricultural Show

July 7, 2014

Another acquisition from the closing museum at Lackham was a catalogue for the Trowbridge Melksham and District Agricultural Show which took place on Wednesday May 26th 1954 – just over 60 years ago.

Front cover of 1954 Trowbridge, melksham and District Agricultural Show catalogue

Front cover of 1954 Trowbridge, melksham and District Agricultural Show catalogue

Of particular interest to us at Market Lavington was the advert on the inside of the front cover.

Advert for Wordley and Co of Market Lavington

Advert for Wordley and Co of Market Lavington

Yes, this was from our very own firm, of A. S. Wordley and Co who were based in the Market Place in the village.

We have already seen on this blog photos of Wordley’s stand at this show, from other years in the early fifties (click here).

But these catalogues also give some other ideas of what went on in our villages, by seeing who was exhibiting what.

First we note that Mrs N R Harmsworth of Kestrels in Easterton was showing flowers. She was one of seven competitors who had tried for the ‘best geranium in pot’ class. She was also going for the best flowering plant of any variety, the best vase of cut flowers arranged for effect, and the best vase of three bearded iris.

Mrs Harmsworth also showed vegetables – the best three cabbages, the best three lettuces, the best six carrots, the best 12 strawberries and the best collection of vegetables – four varieties.

D E Alexander of Southcliffe Farm was showing pigs. He had entered two large white sows. One was called Southcliffe Beautiful and she had been born on 20th October 1952. The other was Southcliffe Beryl 2nd, born 17th December 1952.

Mr Alexander had also entered the best two pork pigs, any breed or cross and the best two pigs suitable for Wiltshire bacon. He also showed in the two carcasses most suitable for Wiltshire bacon class.

We have here yet another period document from a past age with plenty of local information.

100 years ago

June 24, 2014

May the luck be with us and perhaps we have good fortune here.

The bad news is the demise of the museum at Lackham – but at least other museums can benefit. Some may be able to take wonderful buildings like granaries. We stick rigorously to our ‘only Market Lavington/Easterton rule and have acquired just three agricultural show catalogues. We actually first bid for these items some time ago but were invited to collect them a couple of days ago. This one, we were reminded then, is about the show which took place 100 years ago.

Wiltshire Agricultural Association show catalogue for 1914

Wiltshire Agricultural Association show catalogue for 1914

Here we have the front cover of the catalogue for the Wiltshire Agricultural Associatioin show which took placed at Chippenham on June 23rd and 24th 1914. This was the summer before the war and just four days after the show was the day that Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, an event which many people believed fired the trigger which started the war. That’s an event to be commemorated in Market Lavington on June 28th 2014 when we hold a First World War concert in our Community Hall. We, of the museum, will take our part in this.

But for now let’s find out what some of the folks of Market Lavington were doing 100 years ago. That cluster of book marks, seen at the top of the image above, show the local entries in the catalogue.

Arthur M Walton, who was best known for owning the department store in the middle of Market Lavington, had entered eggs in ‘the best dozen white eggs’ class – both the open and the members section. Mr Walton also ran the Wilts Down Poultry Farm. From the same farm, white Wyandotte hens and White Faverolle hens were displayed. Mrs Walton, Arthur’s wife, was showing bantams both hens and cocks. Her variety was Belgian Barbes d’Amvers and her address was given as Ivy Lodge in Market Lavington.

Also in the poultry section, a chap called Kenneth Seaborne had entered white Wyandotte hens and cocks. Can anybody tell us anything about him? His address was just given as Market Lavington.

Two local brothers were competing against one another in various horse shoeing competitions. The two were John Hampton Merrit and Thomas Merrit. One of their competitions was for ‘the smith who can exhibit most skill in shoeing cart horses’. They were also involved in similar competitions for different types of horse like roadsters and hunters.

Two local companies had trade stands, one of which was W H Hopkins


Hopkins was displaying his acetylene gas generators and lighting system.

T H White became better known as a Devizes company but in 1914 they still had their roots in Market Lavington. They not only had a stand, they took out adverts in the catalogue.


Possibly the busiest Market Lavington person was James Welch. This was the grandfather of Peggy Gye, not her father although we know from his diary that he attended the show. James Welch senior was the secretary of the Wiltshire Agricultural Association and no doubt as the paid employee he was enormously busy ensuring everything ran smoothly.

Yes, we feel very lucky to get this catalogue.

Haymaking at Knapp

May 9, 2014

Farming always looks to be a lonely business these days with one person, alone, in his or her air conditioned cab. In the past some aspects of farming were much more social and one of these was haymaking.

This picture shows more than a dozen people during a lull in proceedings at Knapp Farm. This picture dates from the 1920s.

Haymaking at Knapp Farm, Market Lavington in the 1920s

Haymaking at Knapp Farm, Market Lavington in the 1920s

Clearly, another wagon, laden with the vital winter fodder is due to arrive at which point the chaps on the ground, contentedly leaning on their pitchforks in this photo, will set to, transferring the hay to the elevator which will carry it up, well above head height of the people on the stack who will work to hove the dried grass to the required position.

This picture is not sharp enough to allow us to recognise any of the people. We think Henry Davis may have held the farm at this time so he may be one of the men shown.

The Milk Producer

April 29, 2014


Our local people – and these days those from all round the world, have been absolute wonders at finding and saving documents of interest. That will be why we have some extracts from the journal of the Milk Marketing Board – a journal known as ‘The Milk Producer’.

Our extracts date from 1968 but refer to an item from much earlier.



In fact it dates back to 1933

A 1933 letter about milk prices from the West Park Dairy

A 1933 letter about milk prices from the West Park Dairy

It is a letter from the West Park Dairy company telling a supplier that the price for milk is being cut to 4d (less than 2p) per gallon and that it will probably have to drop even more.

West Park farm, the registered headquarters of the company was and still is, of course in Market Lavington and remains a dairy farm.

Two months after this old letter was published, a letter came in from the then owner of West Park Farm.

A 1968 response to the 1933 letter

A 1968 response to the 1933 letter

So now we get a 1968 milk price, for the producer of around 3/3 per gallon. That’s about 16p in decimal currency or more than 8 times the price given in 1933.

We think the current price is about 33p per litre which is about £1.50 per gallon.

Contracting Means Expanding

April 22, 2014

So read a headline in a 1981 issue of the Wiltshire Gazette which was about Clem Bowyer. Clem ran an agricultural contracting business from premises on Drove Lane in Market Lavington.


The article tells us something of the life of former local resident, Clem Bowyer who moved to the area from Bradford on Avon in 1928.

Let’s read the article first.




The article had a photo of Clem back in pre-war days.


Clem was born in 1916 and from 1928 until his death in 1995 he lived in the Lavington/Easterton area

It would be good if anyone could offer us a better photo of Clem.

Earthing up the spuds

April 3, 2014

Potatoes grow the tubers underground but they are shallow rooted and the new potatoes can be very near or even poking out above the surface. If that happens the new tuber turns green and is not good to eat. From the grower and consumer point of view it is important to keep those new and developing spuds in the dark.

The simple way of doing this is to drag earth from the gaps between the rows of plants and pile it up higher close by them. It’s a process called earthing up.

If you are a domestic gardener you probably earth up with something like a draw hoe. It may be a bit small for the job but with only a garden’s worth to do it just isn’t worth investing in a specialist tool.

However, if you are a market gardener, working on a field   scale then you need a proper tool for the job. These days, no doubt, you’d   have something tractor hauled. Back in the 19th century, potato   earthing would have been done by hand with a tool like this.

This long handled tool could be dragged between the rows   and its shape and angle moved earth to the edge, making sure those growing   tubers were well covered.


19th century potato earther

The length of the handle helped to make sure that the   metal blade did not dig deep into the ground and the slightly enlarged bob on   the end of the handle helped to make sure the earther didn’t slide from the user’s hands.

It was hard work. By the time this tool had been dragged   over an acre of land then the user would have walked some five miles or more,   all the time dragging earth.

No wonder frequent stops were needed and drinks taken.

After use the tool would have been carefully cleaned, the   blade would have been oiled and so, too would the handle, although the oil   used was linseed in that case.

You can see this late 19th century tool in the trades room at Market Lavington Museum.