Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Modern Granary and Farm Bothy.

Granary & Bothy #35 & #36.
The Granary and Bothy, buildings #35 and #36 on your farm map were additions that were purpose built when the Astors took over the farm and are adjacent to the listed barn and stables.
The word Bothy is of Scotts and North of England origin and was accomodation for single male farm workers, and can be associated with the North American Ranch Bunk House. Items #37. I will explain later in the next blog.

The side block view is to convey the layout and construction of the building. The Granary had two floors. The ground floor was for the milling equipment, which consisted of a rolling mill for oats, primarily for feed for the horses. The second and last addition was a hammer mill, which was used to grind up barley and maise for a diet supplement for the cattle. Grain could be taken up by two methods. Either by walking up the outside stairway, or by a chain block and tackle which could be swung out from a double wayway on the west side of the building. The grain was then fed into a chute to feed the machinery below.
The Bothy was used for the most time during the second world war, when four land girls from the Womens Land Army were billeted in it. As boys we had fun going up into the granary by the wooden stairs, going out through a window into the barn roof valley and onto the flat roof. Then we would tip toe across the roof to the chimney and make ghostly noises down the chimneypot. Of course we had sometime before spread the word among the girls that the Bothy was haunted. Just a devilish thing we got up to.
After it was occupied for the longest time by a Displaced Person and his wife who worked on the farm by the name of Fedor. Fedor was quite a gardener and I remember he grew his own tobacco.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Buildings # 33 and #34.

The Herdsman's House.
Building #34 on your farm map was the home of George Hughes the farm herdsman and his wife and two teenage daughters Helen and Betty. It was also the farm office where the herds records were kept and the doorway is marked with the white X. It is where the farm staff wages were brought to every Friday by Mr. Smith from the Cliveden Estate office and were distributed by both Bill Holland the arable foreman and George Hughes to their respective staff.

The Carter's House.
Building #33. I should have said was one of the Carter's homes. This is where Percy and Kit Emmett lived. Their son Geoffery was a chum of mine through school and part of our teenage years. He followed is uncle Larry Smith and became a cabinet maker and carperter. Sadly he died in a motor accident at a very young age.

After the horses were sold off Percy stayed on doing general work, as his knowledge of the farm buildings and drainage system were valuable when changes were made to the farm buildings and their uses.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Old Granary or Dove Coté, a listed building.

The old Granary or Dove Coté.
Building number 32. on your farm map is today a listed building and has to be preserved as such. The old stables and barn and this building fall into that catagory. Most of the other buildings were built by the Astor's as they perfected their modern model farm.

Ground level view.
Here is a quite recent view of the building as it is today. One can see the curved entrance door on the east side.

Cross section drawing
from memory.

This listed building has served the farm very well down through the years and is unique in its architecture and construction. Yes there was a dove coté at the top of the building. The basement was used for storing maincrop potatoes, as my North American readers know the term "Root Cellar" better. The next level was a grain store for both oats and barley in large wooden bins. There was at one time more oats stored there, as there was quite a large stable of carthorses. Then barley took over when the need for oats decreased and the farm switched to pork and bacon pigs in the later years.

Light on the granary floor was provided by two skylights in the roof sections north and south. The basement was in darkness, so one had to leave the two curved double doors open.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The two-ring Plough Press

Two Ring Plough Press.
I found the photo of a two furrow ring press, used to firm loose furrows in somewhat stony or sandy ground. After every second pass the team with the press would follow, thereby making a slot for the grain to fall into when being sown by hand broadcasting.

Here below is a drawing of my interpretation of the two furrow ring press. This of course was made obsolete when the seed drill was perfected and became available for use by most arable farmers. Two horses were used. One in a set of shafts and the other in front hooked on to the shafts with a set of trace chains.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Ernie Holland Story.

Ernie Holland Story.
The photograph is a photo-fit of the man himself, depicting his chubby smile and bushy eyebrows:
I come now to the younger member of the Holland family, Ernie, who was not only a very skilled mechanic on all types of stationary machinery but, his knowledge of automobiles was vast to say the least. Not only did he maintain the two Ruston Hornsby Twin Cylinder stationary pump engines that use to pump water up to the Cliveden Estate water tank hidden up in the clock tower, he also maintained the fleet of American cars belonging to the Astor family, of which I can recall him saying there was a dozen at one time.
He also looked after the milking machine vacuum pumps and engines plus all small portable stationary engines powering root choppers, hay and silage equipment, milk and cattle lorries, not forgetting the steam boiler maintenance in the dairy.
In his spare time he kept the farm vermin such as foxes, rabbits, rats and mice in check. I think as boys on or next to the farm we spent more time with Ernie learning country ways and how to catch rabbits using various methods. In the nesting season and when the early mowing for haymaking was taking place. The mowers would find pheasants nests, they would take the eggs to Ernie and he would put them under a broody hen and raise as her own until they could fly over the wall and into the woods as young poults. This way the pheasant population was maintained on White Place Farm. Young partridges were much harder to raise, so the success rate was much less.
When we boys wanted to go swimming in the Cliveden Reach in the summer, Ernie was always a good source for a large inner tube to have fun with. Also small empty twenty-gallon drums were good to have when building a raft on Widbrook stream.

A 1920's American Cord Tourer.
For several summers before the war Ernie brought one of the older American cars down from Cliveden and fitted it with a hay sweep. Boy did we have fun sitting in the big open tourer sweeping up the hay and bringing it into the rick with Ernie at the wheel. I often wonder if Arthur Ransome the author of "Swallows and Amazons." was watching at the fun we had.

When Ernie had time off or went on holiday, his place was taken over by Jack Exler, who kept a garage on Switchback Road, in Furze Platt. I wonder if any of my readers will remember Jack and his garage.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Arable Foreman Bill Holland.

Arable Foreman's House # 31.

From my earliest recollections in the 1930's Bill Holland was the Arable Foreman at White Place Farm. His wife was a very quiet little person and always dressed somewhat like Queen Victoria and always in black or dark brown dresses. Besides being very good at his job, both he and his son Ernie worked on the farm. Ernie was the estate mechanical engineer, more about Ernie to follow in another Blog.
Besides being very good at his job of getting all the cultivations completed on time, Bill was very well respected by everyone, both on the farm and in the village. He was a champion grower of the most exotic dahalias. Always walking away from the local Cookham Flower Show in Mill Lane with quite a lot of silverware. Even Lady Nancy Astor would make a special trip down to see his garden when it was in full bloom. Of course other members of staff were also keen gardeners in their own right and enjoyed the Flower Show competition. It was after the war when Bill retired and his son got married and moved into a house in the Walled-in Garden on Sutton Road. Where he and his wife moved to I never found out.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Petrol Pump & Weighbridge.

Farm Petrol Pump
& Weighbridge.
From the earliest days of the Astor's running and developing the farm there was always a cattle lorry and a milk delivery lorry. So to make sure both always had a full tank before starting out on a journey, a petrol pump and a weighbridge were installed. The pump is indicated as (A) in the picture above, and the weighbridge as (B). They can be found on the farm map as location number 38.
The weighbridge was used by the carters when bringing in roots or kale from the field to weigh and make sure of the ammount fed to the dairy herds. Also grain when thrashed was weighed before being put in the granary bins.

The mock up below is of the type of petrol pump that is use up until the late 1950's. Each glass cylinder held a gallon when full, and was pumped up from the underground tank by a hand wobble pump. As one cylinder was filled the other would feed into the vehicle tank by gravity. I remember filling up the first Standard Ferguson tractor at the pump, which held 8 gallons and enough for a days work of ploughing. The tractor engine was the same as used in the post war Standard Vanguard Car.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Stables Continued at White Place Farm.

The Stables, building 28.
According to records that I have come across this building was the original farmhouse back in the early 1800's. When I knew it it was stabling for the farm shire horses. It is according to records a grade II listed building, together with the barn to which it attached. What was used by the carters as a tack room and lunchroom did have a small kitchen range installed I remember. This was used to toast sandwiches and make tea.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Stables & Barn

Stables and Barn.
In the early years of the farm's operation under the Astor ownership, quite a number of horse teams were in use. At one time there were at least six plough teams, plus a number of single shire horses used for general carting, and by the cowman for hauling concentrate through to the cattle and the single horse cattle wagon, used in the moving of cows that were close to the calving.
The carter's day started at 5 AM, when in summertime they would bring the horses in from overnight pasture at Widbrook Farm. They would then feed them with a breakfast of rolled oats while they groomed and harnessed them, checking of course to make sure that they would not cast a shoe during the day. Then they would have their own breakfast. Those carters that lived on the farm went home for their breakfast; while those that lived in the village and up in Cookham Rise had their breakfast in the small tack room, which was part of the stables. Lunches were always taken out in the field, where the horses would have a nosebag of chaff and rolled oats mixed. If there was a water tank in the field horses would have a drink at noon.
Work in the field finished 4 PM for general arable duties, so that the horses could be taken back to the stables for an evening meal, before being turned out to pasture. Only in the worst winter weather did the horses stay in the stables overnight.

Numbers were reduced when the first tractor, an International 10-20, which the Astor's imported from the States. Its first driver was an ex-carter, George Parker, who remained its driver until he retired. The second tractor was an Alice Chalmer's Model B, which arrived again from the States in 1937. The third tractor to join the farm arrived just before the war, again from the States, and International TD-6 caterpillar tractor, together with a Ransome's four furrow plough. This unit cut down ploughing time to a fraction of that work done before. As it could plough 10 acres a day with ease.

Horses remained in use until the end of the Second World War in 1945, when they were eased out with the coming of the Standard Ferguson tractor.

The barn building number 29 was used for general storage use, such as excess dry concentrate feed for the cattle, and also a very dry spot to store Nitro Chalk fertilizer. In later years it was used as a grain drying plant.