Posts Tagged ‘farming’

Cow and piglet

June 18, 2016

We have posted this photo once before on this blog – a charming shot of a cow suckling a piglet.

A cow suckles a piglet in Easterton

A cow suckles a piglet in Easterton


When we published this back in 2013 we reported what we had been told – that this was Frank Potter’s cow. A small news cutting has been given to the museum which tells us where the piglet came from.


News item to accompany the picture

So it seems that the piglet belonged to Ron Kyte of Easterton and it was his aunt, Mrs Agnes Maddick who spotted what was going on but thought the piglet was a little dog worrying the cow.

It is a delightful photo and, dated by the news article to 1950.


A new car in the 1950s

January 24, 2016

Back in May 2015 we looked at an Austin 7 car which had belonged to Betty Gye of Homestead Farm. When Betty was ready to take her driving test, her dad decided she couldn’t take it in the old Austin which, with poor brakes wasn’t really roadworthy. A new car was bought – a Ford Popular and here it is.


Betty Gye’s Ford Popular in about 1954

The design was still very much pre-war. We are no experts but we believe this was little more than a revamped Ford Anglia of the 1930s. It was built on the cheap – you might note only the driver has a windscreen wiper – and they were, as a result, very popular. This car would have had semaphore indicators which emerged from the bodywork just behind the door but this one also has an extra – a fog lamp has been added.

Betty was proud of it and a photo was taken.

But look at the background. Behind the car is a lovely loose hay stack which looks to be a bit crudely thatched to keep the rain out. That would have been a real labour to build that stack by hand.

The item between car and stack may be some kind of hay tedder – something that puffed up the hay to get air to it to speed drying.

The old car – it would now be over 60 – is a real reminder of times past but so too is the chance agriculture captured in this shot.

A ploughing match at Market Lavington

January 20, 2016

The following extract appeared in The Cottagers Companion for September 1837.


This appears to have been quite a local concern judging by the premium winners. But it seems even the losers were awarded five shillings which is 25p in present money. But someone getting an income of 25p in 1837 would be getting something like £350 now – not a bad sum for losing!

But perhaps the big winner was the farmer who allowed his land to be used. In a few hours he has had quite a few acres ploughed – about 10 if most of the 21 entrants completed their half acre.

It is interesting to see that oxen were used for two classes and clearly were not as speedy as the horses.

There are still ploughing matches in Wiltshire. The Bath and Trowbridge Ploughing Society are holding one on 4th April at Oxstall Farm, Bradford on Avon.

Threshing in 1976

November 5, 2015

We have seen something of this occasion in a blog post in September 2012 but this colour snap catches the dust and grime of the threshing process.

Threshing in Market Lavington - 1976

Threshing in Market Lavington – 1976

Now let’s be clear. This was not normal back in 1976 although it would have been back in the 1950s. By 1976 tank combines, similar to today’s leviathans but much smaller, held sway. But a few farmers then (and now) saw a profit in the straw which could be kept neat and tidy and bundled for thatching. One such farmer was the redoubtable Roger Buckle and this is his threshing kit in use alongside Spin Hill back in the summer of 1976. Threshing wasn’t usually a summer job but then 1976 was the year of the drought and there was no need to leave stooks out to dry and then stack them for attention later. Sheaves of binder cut corn were carted straight from field to threshing machine. A part of a trailer with sheaves can be seen behind the thresher.

It was a labour intensive process. Roger Buckle is the big chap up top and he was feeding the sheaves into the thresher. A chain of chaps were making sure sheaves arrived as needed by Roger, some pitching them up of the trailer and Roger’s assistant would have them ready so that he never stopped feeding them into the machine.

The sacking man made sure sacks of grain were filled and fastened and then joined the stack of sacks.

At the far end of this thresher there is a device called a reed comb which gathered the de-grained straw, made sure it was neat and tidy and tied it into suitable thatching bundles. Another person was needed to manage that end of the machine.

And some poor chap had the grotty job, working in the dust of the chaff which fell out of the bottom of the threshing machine. It was important to keep that under machine space clear so that the threshing drum did not clog up with rubbish.

What a grand sight.

The Williams’ hay rake

September 4, 2015

There are some items we just can’t take at our museum. To comply with ‘rules’ all items must be protected from the weather so we cannot take items which won’t fit in our little cottage. We’d have loved to have been able to take this hay rake which has survived, pretty happily, in the great outdoors above Court Close Farm in Easterton. Sadly we have to make do with photographs.

Hayrake used by the Williams family of Easterton

Hayrake used by the Williams family of Easterton

Well it certainly looks like something from a past age, with its all metal wheels and little seat for an operator to perch on, but this was certainly used in the age of tractor haulage.


Definitely a tractor hauled item by this stage

The view from this direction shows the towing connector narrowing down to fit a point on the tractor, rather than having parallel bars to fix either side of a horse. It may have been converted, at some time, from horse haulage to tractor towed.


It really is a hefty piece of engineering. The seat carries the name of the manufacturer.

The manufacturer is named on the operator's seat.

The manufacturer is named on the operator’s seat.

They were W N Nicholson and Son of Newark, England.

We think, but without certainty, that this rake dates from the 1920s.

Tractors: Market Lavington leads the way.

June 26, 2015

Today we are looking at an article published in the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald on April 19th 1973. But it is about an event which took place in 1916 – the first use of a tractor in South West England.

The tractor was being trialled by T H White and Co, originally a Market Lavington company and the 1973 article was to mark the company moving into newer premises in Devizes.

Back in 1916, a tractor was clearly worthy of a photo and here is the photo, as published in 1973.

The first tractor in the West of England - Market Lavington, 1916

The first tractor in the West of England – Market Lavington, 1916

We are reminded, of course, of how much newspaper technology has moved on in the last 40 years. But the caption is clear to read.


The article was written by T J Witchell who was an apprentice with T H Whites back in 1916. It’s well worth a read.


Click the image to see a larger version


Of course, the Market Lavington interest is that Mr Watts was the farmer at Church Farm.  Does this mean Knapp Farm?

Now we’d love a real copy of that photo. Has anybody got one they could let us copy?

Work at Homestead Farm in the 1950s

May 27, 2015

Homestead Farm was just beyond where St Barnabas School now stands up Drove Lane which was once called Cemetery Lane because there is a cemetery just below the school.

It was never a big farm but in those days of yore a small farm could support a hard working family. The hard working family at Homestead Farm was a branch of the Gye family and in the photo below we can see that they had enough income to run to a tractor.

A loose hay stack looks to be under construction, brought in on a trailer which might well have had a horse drawn origin.


Work at Homestead Farm in the 1950s

Work at Homestead Farm in the 1950s

We believe Mrs Gye is standing on the stack whilst her husband is forking material up from the side. A girl, probably Betty, is standing on the right in front of the stack.

There is clearly a small pen surrounding a hen house. This doesn’t look much like egg production for sale, but rather for domnestic need. In the distance we look over the top of Northbrook, down into the village centre and then up to Lavington Hill and Salisbury Plain.

Let’s take a closer look at the tractor and people.

That looks like a grey Fergie!

That looks like a grey Fergie!

The tractor looks like a Fergusson, the ubiquitous tractor of its day and these days often called ‘little grey Fergies’. Mr Wordley, the agricultural engineer based in the Market Place certainly sold these tractors but possibly not this one with registration LWV 899. That would seem to have been first registered in Wiltshire. Possibly somebody can tell us a date of manufacture.

It isn’t the clearest of photos but it certainly tells us a story of times past.

The Farmer’s Guide of 1925

April 13, 2015

Commercial companies exist to sell their products or services. The Farmer’s Guide was really an advertising magazine produced by Carters, the seed company. It was quite lavish back in 1925 with a colourful front cover designed to imply that you’d get prize winning crops if you used Carter’s seeds.

The Farmer's Guide - a Carter's seed catalogue for 1925

The Farmer’s Guide – a Carter’s seed catalogue for 1925

That’s a fine picture of Carter’s pedigree roots – awarded the premier prize at the London Dairy Show of 1924.

Inside the pages are all black and white, but still well illustrated.


One of the joys of this 90 year old farm magazine is the reminder that farming was very different back then. In 1925 the horse still reigned almost unchallenged and the scene of the farmer loading his trailer with enormous cabbages seems like something from a near forgotten country idyll.

Apart from the reminder of just how many horses there were, modern people would do well to realise that grass is a major farm crop and may have cost a considerable amount to plant.


One more page – the autumn harvest!


Here we have horses and children at work, harvesting the oats

This is a lovely item. Sadly it is a tad fragile and so doesn’t come out on display very often.



January 8, 2015

Flax is a field crop not grown all that much locally although we understand that the need for cloth – linen is made from flax – meant much more was grown during World War II.

In more recent years flax made something of a comeback and its gentle blue flowers, for many of us, compared very favourably with the garish yellow of the oil seed rape.

Here we see a field of flax in the year 2000.

Flax growing in Market Lavington in the year 2000

Flax growing in Market Lavington in the year 2000

This field, behind the former petrol station where Shires Close now stands, had once been the village ‘rec’ or recreation ground

This field had once been the village Recreation Ground

This field had once been the village Recreation Ground

It’s a pretty looking crop so it’s rather a shame it isn’t grown more.

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.