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Post by Stanley » 15 Feb 2018, 07:13


I left you last week pondering who the intrepid pilot of Abel’s Austin Heavy Twelve might be. I suspect you have already guessed the answer. Being a young lad (and remember this was sixty years ago when the world was a lot different) I of course volunteered. I forget what time of the day it was, I suspect very early in the morning, when we loaded the wagon with rakes and implements of destruction and I set off for Wheathead.
I went uphill from Greenbank as Abel told me there was a disused track down the gulley that led down from Lower Sandiford to a gate on the bad bend between the Greystone Inn and the Moorcock. He was right, it was very rough but I managed it and then went downhill on the main road to Blacko Bar then turned right down to Wheathead. No alarms or excursions, a piece of cake.
Wheathead Farm interested me. If I remember rightly the family that farmed it was Hargreaves, a very common name in the Roughlee/Barley area. Remember this was in the 1950s but they still firmly believed in witches. They told me a family story about a witch restoring the flow in a spring on the farm that dried up in a drought and showed me what they swore were Fairy Rings in the meadow.
We helped the family until the end of a successful hay harvest and I really enjoyed it because even by the day's standards, they were incredibly old fashioned and what I experienced was exacly how the job had been done for centuries (apart from our Austin wagon). They still carted with a horse and two wheeled cart with Raves, the wooden extensions that allowed more hay to be stacked on the cart. Even the diet was in keeping, home cured fat bacon and eggs for breakfast, Hot Pot at dinnertime and every old fashioned baked cake you can think of for tea. The hay was stacked loose in the mowstead in the barn which had a door at each side so that a cart could draw straight though without backing. Even then I knew that this was living history.
After our job at Wheathead was finished I took the Austin back the same way that I had come and remember it was a lot harder getting back up the gulley to Lower Sandiford than it was coming down but as it was a dry time I managed.
I treasure this memory because it was a perfect example of how neighbours and relatives helped each other survive in the early days of farming these small holdings. I learned more about the social history of the community than many historians can glean in a lifetime. It was genuine Prime Source information, straight from the event and totally factual. How many historians know how to turn a swathe with a wooden hay rake, how to make Foot Cocks or what the function of the Donkey Rake was? You can trust me, I am a good source!


Pike Laithe at Colne not Wheathead but exactly how we got the hay in.
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
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"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

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