Farming in Radcliffe on Trent 1911–1920

Farming in the 1900s
Image shows farm workers at Malin Head. Source: http://www.ekm.com/blog/five-industries-that-made-britain-great-in-pictures/

Every month this website features a man and woman from Radcliffe on Trent who were actively involved in the First World War. They are linked either by family connections or by having something in common.

The January 2017 man and woman of the month were both involved in farming. Isaac Saint, a tenant farmer at Hall Farm, Radcliffe, was forty when war broke out and served with the British Army. The reason he enlisted is unknown. Unusually, both he and his son John served in WWI. Isaac Saint was a sergeant first with the Sherwood Foresters and then with the Machine Gun Corps. After the war he left Radcliffe and died in Nottingham in 1935. Olive Elnor was the daughter of Thomas Elnor, a tenant farmer at Lamcote Farm. She became a paid nurse with the Red Cross during the war working first at Bagthorpe Hospital, Nottingham (now the City Hospital) and later in Guildford War Hospital (formerly the workhouse then St. Luke’s Hospital). After the war she married Sidney Sharp, a farmer from Scarrington, Notts and moved to The Red Farm, Aslockton where she remained for the rest of her life.

Radcliffe on Trent has a rural location but farming was not a dominant sector of employment for local people before the war. In 1911 there were fourteen farms in the village employing seventy-six men, representing about 12% of the adult male population. At least half of the farms were owned originally by Earl Manvers. Five of these fourteen farms are still functioning today. The farms were:

  • Asylum Farm, on the site of Notts. County Asylum, Saxondale;
  • Bell’s Farm, The Harlequin, site is now housing;
  • Bowring Farm, Main Road, originally owned by Earl Manvers, sold in 1914 and now the site of a few shops including a chemist;
  • Buxton’s Farm on Main Road, a small farm of 2.8 acres tenanted by George Buxton. Originally owned by Earl Manvers, it was sold in 1920 and later became the Black Lion pub. The old pub building now houses Tesco;
  • Lamcote Farm, Bailey Lane, 77 acres farmed by Thomas Elnor, originally owned by Earl Manvers, sold in 1920 to Lt. Colonel Birkin. The farm and land became the Canadian estate in the 1950s; more of the farmland became Whitworth Drive in the 1960s.
  • Greens Barn Farm, Cropwell Road, now called Radcliffe Barn Farm and still functioning;
  • Lees Barn Farm originally owned by Earl Manvers, sold in 1910, now on the south side of the A52 and still functioning;
  • Hall Farm farmed by Isaac Saint, also now on the south side of the A52 and still functioning;
  • Manor Farm on Shelford Road, 100 acres, tenanted by George Bell, originally owned by Earl Manvers, sold in 1920, site is now housing;
  • A farm of 26 acres next to The Manvers Arms tenanted by Philip Richmond, originally owned by Earl Manvers, sold in 1920;
  • Malkin Hill Farm, Shelford Road, now Shelford Lodge Farm and still functioning;
  • Shelford Farm, now Shelford Road Farm and still a functioning farm;
  • Small Pleasures Farm originally owned by Earl Manvers  was sold in 1920 to William Pacey Green and later became The Chestnuts Country Club. It is now Tudor Grange residential home. Retirement flats have been built on the adjoining land.
  • Spellow Farm on Grantham Road, now St James’s Business Park.

The distribution of farm work in 1911 was biased towards older men, most of whom were over the age of forty and therefore exempt from war service. The older age of Radcliffe farm workers suggests that increasing mechanisation had reduced the need for recruiting younger men.

Following the outbreak of war, only eight of the seventy-six farm workers in 1911 volunteered or were conscripted. Another three men, who had moved to the village between 1911 and 1914 and worked on farms, also served. The farm labourers who enlisted were William Bee, Frederick Carrington, John Kelly (bailiff, Spellow Farm), Sidney Marshall, James Grady (Bells Farm), William Brewster Haynes (farmer), Percy Kitchen (Asylum Farm) Philip Richmond (farm next to The Manvers), Isaac Saint (Hall Farm), Benjamin and George Sheppard (Green Barns Farm) and Cecil Tindale. Percy Kitchen, a horseman and Benjamin Sheppard, farm labourer, lost their lives during the war.

It is well known that farms were adversely affected in the war years. Workers volunteered or were conscripted, horses and fodder were requisitioned and demand for food increased. It appears that the farms in Radcliffe on Trent did not lose many of their workers but nevertheless would have been affected by war shortages. The Women’s Forage Corps worked in the village from 1917, securing hay for horses on the Western Front.

The Manvers estate owned much of the farm land and several farms before the war. Following the 1910 Finance Act, Earl Manvers started to sell off some of his properties. Sales took place in 1910 and 1914. The process accelerated in 1920 when the bulk of the Manvers estate was sold. Several farms acquired new owners. Some, like Small Pleasures Farm, were bought by the occupying tenant. Lees Barn Farm was purchased by William Brewster Haynes, who served with the Royal Field Artillery in WWI. Lamcote Farm was purchased by Lt. Colonel Birkin and Thomas Elnor, the tenant farmer, moved to a farm at Hawksworth, near Scarrington. Lamcote Farm became a thriving dairy farm in the hands of Colonel Birkin, providing tuberculosis tested milk to the village for many years. However, farming overall in Radcliffe on Trent mirrored the national decline of agriculture during the 1920s and 30s. The 1939 Register shows that only two of the farm workers who served in WWI were still recorded with farming occupations in the 1930s: William Brewster Haynes, now a retired farmer and John Kelly who returned to Spellow Farm after the war and continued working as a farm labourer.

Author: Rosemary Collins