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Farewells and Farm Sales

Barwicker No.23
September 1991

In my previous article (see 'The Barwicker' No.20) I described my life at Park House Farm from 1929 until after the Second World War. The period between 1947 and 1956 was a kind of new beginning for us as different views, ideas and ways were developing. The water system was greatly improved with piped Leeds water in 1948 and then followed by electricity in 1952, with a TV set, new modern radio, two electric underblankets, and electrical equipment on the farm. It was lovely to 'switch on' in the farmhouse and also in the farm buildings - the chore of lamp filling was over. The men's wages at this time were from £4.0.0 per week to £5.15.0. Some of the threshing men, such as the chaff men got payment of £4.0.0, straw men £4.0.0 and casuals £2.0.0. We still had Poles and German POWs working on the land. The winter of 1947 was very bad. My husband Harold and I took time off to go to Scar borough in a slack season on 1 February 1947. The snow was around when we were going and we then got snowed up when the time came for travelling home, but we ventured back on 7 February, as the buses had then started again. I might add that we went to the cinema every day on our stay in Scarborough, with occasional walks round the Marine Drive and Oliver's Mount. Oh, and I got chilblains - boots like today's were not then in evidence. When we eventually arrived back at Park House Farm, after following the bus tracks, we found a lot of snow at the farm and the drive up to the farmhouse had to be dug out. The phone was still out of order. We went shopping to Barwick-in- Elmet and nearly got stuck on the hill into the village. The road into Leeds - the A64 - was very bad and it Wu extremely cold. Down south there were power cuts and half of England was without electricity, so candles and lamps came into their own again.

We now had a milking machine and a cooling shed and there were approximately 24 cows and ten of their offsprings (calves), plus maybe 25 heifers. Fifty gallons of milk or thereabouts were sent away each day in milk churns.

It was not mentioned in my last article that we had also rented Bar House Farm, Kiddal Lane. We took over this in March 1935 from Mr Gerald Robshaw from Hazlewood and the owner was a Mr WaIter Womersly who I think lived at Fleetwood at the time. This small holding was about 50 acres of good land with a nice cottage, buildings, stackyards and paddock. As well as this, we had rented some land for a short period, running from the Fox and Grapes towards Becca. We gave up Bar House Farm in the early 1950s and then had two modern cottages built in a field near Park: House Farm drive. A family called Aldridge lived at Bar House Farm at this time and they moved into one of the the new cottages in 1951. When Grace got married in 1953, we had the problem of getting domestic help to live in, so we had a daily who came in by bus.

The rain, sleet and snow were still around in April 1947 when Harold and I moved to Bowcliffe Farm, Bramham. We said a gentle 'Au revoir' and TTFN 'Ta Ta For Now' (as originated by Tommy Handley in ITMA, 'It's That Man Again') to Park: House Farm, the old homestead.

At Bowcliffe, I reared twelve ducks, such lovely fluffy things, but the killing time upset me so much that that I gave them up and later turned to turkeys. These I found temperamental and nervous; I was not fond of them, except for Christmas dinner! Geese, although good burglar alarms, I did not like either, having been once chased by them. I must say we still had to go through the process of the beetles, rats and mice at Bowcliffe Farm, plus no electricity until 1951 and the water for a period went off at lO am until 3 pm. This was the time when I left the tap on and the plug in and 'Hey presto' the water came through the ceiling into our kitchen. I have had an obsession with taps ever since.

We sometimes let the men buy a pig on a weekly basis from us to help them with the food, as we were still on food rationing. We knew a good man we could bargain our clothing coupons with 60 that was great. Our men often went to Park: House Farm to help out and their men did vice versa for Bowcliffe Farm during the busy times. As we had no car the first year or so, we sometimes went by tractor or bike to Park House Farm, or I even walked to Bramham Cross-roads and caught the bus to Kiddal Lane. We got our new Fordson tractor in July 1947.

Things rapidly changed with the various fertilisers and up to date machinery and it was quite a problem keeping up with the new methods. We still had horses at both farms as they were still useful for carting the potatoes and turnips to the pies (or clamps) and also for ploughing, rolling and harrowing. We got a combine harvester at Bowcliffe and we combined the barley for them at Park House Farm as it was dusty and awkward to do. The oats and wheat were still cut by the binder at Park House and we then had two tractors - a Fordson and a Ferguson. In the early 1960s the milk was collected by bulk tanker at Bowcliffe Farm and it was kept in a cooling shed and the milk lorry driver was able to help himself and record the collection.

After father died in November 1955, Mr Jonathan Gomersall, the owner of the Park House Farm, decided to sell it. It was sold to Messrs. Healey Bros. who have farmed there ever since. The sale of the farmhouse, cottages, buildings and land was on 20 December 1955, a snowy day. I still have a copy of the catalogue with a full description of the sale. The farm was described as follows:

'PARK HOUSE FARM is a very desirable residential agricultural holding, ideally situated in a much favoured and fertile agricultural area, eight miles from Leeds, six miles from Tadcaster and seven miles from Wetherby. Approached from the main Leeds- York Road by a short drive, the farm lies in a ring fence. The land is mostly good bodied limestone with fields of useful size. Farmed to a high standard for a number of years it is capable of excellent yields of most cereal and root crops.'

A valuation was made to determine what the new owners would pay us for the away-going crops, any unconsumed produce, any farm yard manure, the unexhausted values of lime, fertiliser, etc. and for some buildings and fittings installed by my father. The inventory gives a short history of each field, e.g.

Field 550:
Potatoes after wheat after flax.
Fisons No.1 tillage applied for potatoes.
Now sown with wheat.
Allowed away-going crop.

The total valuation of these items was £1103.6.4. The 121.5 acres of land, shown in the plan below, were taken over on 2 February 1956.

On 14 March, there was a sale of our livestock and farm equipment which is listed in the catalogue shown on pages 50-51. The livestock was sold for £1961.10.0 and the equipment for £1911.8.0. The house and buildings were vacated on 6 April 1956. It was a somewhat sad time for us, as the farm felt part of us and it was a wrench leaving it after all those 27 eventful years.

When we joined the Common Market, things also Changed in other ways and we sometimes had 'the moody blues' with this or we could be quite elated with the prospect of 'the helping hand'. On top of VAT, we had controls and more forms and restrictions. However, we rallied through all this and really enjoyed our farming years at the two farms including 33 years at Bowcliffe Farm. There we had our British/Canadian Holstein/Friesian cattle until 1974 when we changed over to bullocks. One of Harold's achievements was winning Second Prize presented by the Institute of Brewing in 1979 for Porthos barley grown at Bowcliffe. Also he won the Herd Competition Silver Trophy for 1962-3 and various rosettes and prizes at the Cheshire and Wakefield County Shows.

My husband and I retired here on 10 October 1980. It was good then to sit back in our nice house in Barwick-in-Elmet and enjoy the various activities in this very pleasant and outstanding Village and we now belonged to the 'Kingdom of Elmet' again. Sorrowfully dear Harold passed away on 29 January 1984. However, the short time he spent here was a most happy and contented one.


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