The Foxearth and District Local History Society

Local group - events and information.

Meetings and activities, announcements and notices for the Foxearth and District Local History Society, and associated organisations. For more information on recent events and current programme, please email or contact Clare Mathieson 01787 311337 or Lynda Rumble 01787 281434

Farming in East Anglia, Caught on film: 12th February 2019

The Foxearth and District Local History Society launched its 20th season on 12th February 2019 in Foxearth Village Hall with a film archive evening. There was an attendance of about 28 including 4 guests.

Six short films were shown all made by East Anglian farmers with mostly the farmers themselves providing the commentaries. Starting with the earliest illustrations we saw pictures from an 800 acre farm in Boxted in the 1920s where about 24 men and boys worked on the land with Suffolk Punch horses pulling the ploughs and wagons and much of the harvesting being done by hand. Other farms featured were in Terrington, Rickinghall, Hartest, Primrose Hill, Cambs and Little Plumstead and in all of these the footage was from towards the end of the second world war. The acreage varied from 450 to 1250. The use of machinery was increasing rapidly with tractors - so small by comparison with today's monsters- taking the place of horses, machines for cutting and threshing, high loaders for stacking, hay balers and potato riddlers. One farmer proudly showed his machine for lifting a row of sugar beet; nowadays it's done 6 rows at a time! A large labour force was still needed to operate these machines and women were engaged in the back-breaking task of picking up the unearthed potatoes. The speed with which a man could move on his knees to plant, by hand,what appeared to be celery was quite breath-taking. The use of helicopters - which caused the farm hands to gaze in wonder - for irrigation and pest control was also being introduced around this time as were machines for cutting channels for drains. The purchase and conversion of an army mess hut for battery chickens was an example of the resourceful side of farming.

These films were most revealing in showing the wide range of different activities carried out by those caring for the land, the development of mechanization from the earliest, single purpose bits of apparatus to the sophisticated, computer-assisted combinations half a century later and , not least, the aptitude of farmers as filmmakers! As the projector was switched off our own farming expert, President Ashley Cooper, explained in more detail some of the activities we'd seen and answered a large number of related questions.

The next meeting will take place at 7.30pm in Foxearth Village Hall on Tuesday 12th March and will be the Annual General Meeting at which cheese and wine will be served. Alan Fitch will talk about his life so far with special emphasis on his 4 years with the Royal Air Force

Ken Nice