Posts Tagged ‘farming’

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!

West Park Dairy tank wagon

July 20, 2014

Not all items in a museum are old and here is one that is brand new. Back in the 1930s West Park Dairy, based at West Park Farm in Market Lavington had six milk tanker wagons which ran milk from Wiltshire up to London on the Great Western Railway. We have featured a photo of one such wagon in the past. You can click here to read that page but as a reminder, here’s the same photo again.

West Park Dairy tank wagon of the 1930s

West Park Dairy tank wagon of the 1930s

Recently, Hornby produced an OO gauge version of this tank wagon – we’d like to think our blog was in part responsible for this model hitting the market. We have just been given one of the models.

Hornby model of a very similar wagon - 21st century

Hornby model of a very similar wagon – 21st century

And there it is, in its box and packaging – but we’d better take it out for a closer look.

The Hornby 00 Gauge wagon

The Hornby 00 Gauge wagon

We can see that, with the exception of the standard Hornby couplers, it is a pretty good copy of the original wagon. Let’s have a photo to match the one of the real wagon – sideways on.

Sideways view - like the photo of the real wagon

Sideways view – like the photo of the real wagon

It isn’t the same actual wagon and so the differences may be due to that.

What a delightful item to have in a museum – brand new, yet recalling the 1930s.

Crossways Poultry Farm

July 6, 2014


Recently we looked at a memo from Mr Walton about the Wiltshire Down Poultry Farm. Today we have a strangely similar letter from another Market Lavington Poultry farm, this one at Crossways.

Letter from the Misses Chambers of Crossways Poultry Farm

Letter from the Misses Chambers of Crossways Poultry Farm

Here we have the misses F and E Chambers of Crossways Poultry Farm paying their rent and then, like Mr Walton, saying the roof is leaking and could it be dealt with. It looks as though Mr Holloway had decided this was a job for the Hopkins to do. So it would have been workers from that Market Lavington firm who made their way up to the crossroads where Parham Lane, Drove Lane and Kings Road all cross.

We don’t know much about the Miss Chambers. They were at Crossways and running a chicken farm at the time of the 1911 census. Florence and Eleanor were both in their upper thirties and single and the head of house was their father who was a retired solicitor. The family came from Yorkshire.

The two ladies were still running the business when they sent this letter, in 1914 but had left by the time the 1926 electoral roll was drawn up.

We asked Pat, one of our stewards who lived, until recently, at Crossways and he came up with a collection of photos he had (all poor photocopies which is not Pat’s fault – it is what he was given) and the collection included this one.

Poultry at Crossways

Poultry at Crossways

This could be a little bit of a poultry farm but it is the greenhouse which takes the eye. That looks massive. We think this is more probably a photo of the domestic fowl of a 1920s resident, Mr Fairbairn.

We wonder if anybody out there can tell us more about the Chambers.

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.

Geoff Alexander and family

March 27, 2014

The Alexander family had a farm in the Southcliffe area of Market Lavington.

We think of Alfie Alexander as the founder of the Alexander dynasty, although, of course, the family really goes back years before him.

Amongst Alfie’s children there was a son called Deering and Deering had a son, Geoffrey, born in 1932. It is Geoff we look at today. The photo was taken in 1960 and shows Geoff with his wife, Val and baby daughter Mary Anne.

Geoff, Val and Mary Ann Alexander in 1960

Geoff, Val and Mary Ann Alexander in 1960

Geoff had married Val Baulcomb in 1954. Mary Anne was their first child, born in 1960. Paul was born the following year.

This branch of the family left Wiltshire for Australia. We know some of the family still live there.