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Post by Stanley » 07 Jul 2017, 06:17


In 1953 I was doing an agricultural apprenticeship in Warwickshire but the queen decided she needed me for two years to hold back the Russian hordes in Berlin. In July 1956 I found myself translated to Sough and learning to be an Arkwright, 'Open All Hours'. This was not the original plan but my dad was going blind. Part of the job was going round the farms with a mobile shop and this suited me down to the ground because my heart was still on the land. It wasn't long before I was working for a local farmer, Abel Taylor at Green Bank on Gisburn old track. I never asked for any wages as to tell you the truth part of the attraction was his daughter Margaret but that's another story.....
I did all sorts of jobs with Abel but enjoyed haytiming the most. In Warwickshire I had been used to mechanised haymaking but Abel was still using the old-fashioned methods of hand work and a horse. I enjoyed every minute of it and had a good teacher, Abel was a good man. He mowed with Dick his horse and an ancient Bamford 'Double Horse' mower. It was called this because a big cutter like that needed two horses to work it but his had an ancient petrol engine driving the cutter blade so one horse could manage it, state of the art!
Once felled in swathes we turned it twice by hand and then it was shaken out by the horse drawn shaking machine which scattered it abroad for the final stage of the drying process. Than we rowed it up by hand, loaded it loose on a cart and took it to the barn where we stacked it indoors. It was hard work and took about three days in normal weather. If it rained we had to start the drying process again during which the quality suffered. Carting was always a nervous time and was done as quickly as possible especially if there were threatening clouds. The more hands you had the better and neighbours helped each other if they could.
One thing that is often commented on today is the disconnect between town dwellers and agriculture. I saw the results of a survey only a couple of weeks ago in which young children were asked what the origin was of their favourite foods and there were some very weird answers. Fish Fingers were made of chicken and milk was made from plants. I find this very sad. In earlier days there was a very strong connection between town dwellers and the farms. Many families had their roots in farming stock and even relatives farming nearby so it wasn't surprising that many mill workers helped out on local farms in their spare time. When I did the interviews for the Lancashire Textile Project I found that many young lads went haymaking after a long day in the mill to earn beer and fag money.


Old style haymaking. Many hands make light work!
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

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