Sale of Threshing Tackles 1947

in Jun 1947 by Eric William Last, Church Farm, Occold

From left to right:

Cyril
Baker
Ned
Baker
Billy
Potter
Billy
Baker
E
Phillips
Will
Thorndyke
Eric William
Last
Charles
Potter
Jim
Canham
Les
Hubbard
Henry
Plowman
Fred
Everson
Jim
Everson
Jack
Blake
Alfred
Butcher
Walter
Mutimer
Charles
Fulcher

The Changing Face of Farming

These pictures depict what appears to have been an important moment in the farming history of Occold. The top picture hung in Denis Potter's butchers shop in Eye for many years. It reminds me of the sea of cloth caps which filled the bar of the Beaky at lunchtime 25 years ago.

Does this sale of six traction engines, one of those new fangled tractors, and the threshing machines mark a complete change in farming practice at Church Farm. Certainly by the 1950’s it was a chicken farm with ‘Last’s Chicks’ being sent to all corners of the country & today it contains the Hull’s pedigree dairy herd.

Farming, of one sort or another, was, until the 1970’s, the major employer in Occold (or Acholt) and had been at least since the days that the powerful Frere and Henman families held these lands 500 years earlier.

Fifty years earlier than these 1947 pictures the Havers family of Redlingfield Road had been the local steam traction machine operators. Around 30 years after the pictures combine harvesters were blocking ‘The Street’, as they were repaired at The Forge to the annoyance of passing motorists. An early traffic calming measure?

Modern industrialised farming, depending upon machinery and synthetic manures (fertilisers), was in large measure invented in Suffolk. The threshing machines mentioned by Luke were horse powered and introduced by Garretts of Leiston in 1806. The steam threshing machine not being introduced until 1840 (Garretts again!).

At about the same time Edward Packard, the local pharmacist for Saxmundham, perfected manufacture of phosphate fertiliser from coprolite nodules dug from marl pits on Suffolk farms. He joined with others in opening plants in Ipswich, Bramford Stowmarket and Thetford under the name of Fison, Packard & Prentice. Coupled with scientific breeding, improved transport and drainage this produced a quantum leap in farm productivity but was obtained with a greatly diminished labour force.

It is typical of these ongoing changes that more people are now employed in Occold measuring and evaluating the residues of agricultural chemicals and their environmental effects than are employed in agriculture itself.

Andy Andrews

Where are they now?

RT 1487 has been restored and is now in the Thursford Collection

Manufacture 1910 by Ruston & Proctor in Lincoln
Engine number 39872
Power 7hp
Weight Approx 10¼ tons
Maximum speed 5-6 mph
Load In excess of 7-8 tons

This engine appeared at the Suffolk Show at Bury St Edmunds in 1910 and worked throughout Suffolk in the years following.

Designed as a general purpose traction engine for local use it has only one water tank. The 'spud pan' on the front axle was used to contain metal clips (spuds), which could be attached to the rear wheels to give a better grip in bad conditions.  

The Ruston and Proctor engine could provide power for all kinds of farm equipment, and was for many years the perfect mobile power source.

Barry Woods

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