My mum Rene (Alice Irene Flitney née Harding) died in 1999. When my brother, sister and I went through her things we found an envelope full of old newspaper clippings and other bits and pieces. We looked through the papers and put the envelope away, but those yellowing pieces of paper keep whispering of half-forgotten times and places. Places like Butlers Cross, Stoke Mandeville, Aylesbury, West Wycombe, Little Kimble, Wendover, Ellesborough, Southcourt and Princes Risborough.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Farming at Ibstone, Buckinghamshire in the 40s and 50s

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt sent me rushing for the family albums. My dad and brother were both farm workers, and much of my childhood was spent riding around on tractors. I don’t claim to know anything about these machines because I was only about four when the photographs were taken. My brother Tony is ten years older than me, and I'm guessing he was about fourteen in the first picture.  

My brother hard at work ...


while I have fun in the garden.


My dad is driving this odd-looking caterpillar/tractor type thing. I'm not sure who is on the back, although it might be his brother Owen.

We were living on a farm at Ibstone in Buckinghamshire when the photographs were taken. My sister and I have vivid memories of trees being cut down in the woods around us.  The noise of tractors and heavy chains is something you don’t forget.  I looked online to see if I could find out what this machine is called and stumbled across several pictures of antique logging tractors that look very similar so maybe this is the one used for the logging.




I vaguely remember this 'Claas' machine, but I'm not sure if it is a hay baler or thresher or something else entirely.   I wish my dad was around to ask.



My dad is driving, and it's possible my brother is "up top" but it's hard to tell in these photos. 



Fast forward thirty plus years and my brother is still hard at work.



In the first of these two photographs, he’s showing Sarah, Duchess of York the controls. The second picture shows Prince Andrew and Sarah standing with the digger.  These were taken during the very early stages of the building of Sunninghill Park in Berkshire destined to be the new home of the (then) happy couple.  


Fast forward another thirty years, my brother is retired. Andrew and Sarah are divorced, and I'm sharing photographs with friends from around the world, how times have changed. Now it’s time for you to plough a straight furrow over to Sepia Saturday to see what my fellow Sepians are reminiscing about.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday 272 : Tractors / Agriculture / Wheels


Update 31st March, 2015; I’ve just received the following information from my cousin John. He chatted to someone who knows a bit about machinery and between them they came up with the following; The tractor with Tony aboard is a Fordson Major. We cannot put a name to the one behind the crawler tractor other than it is an early combine. I think the crawler is an International T90.  The chap on the machine behind the T90 could be Dad (Owen Flitney), not sure about any of the others, but I know Dad used to wear a shirt and pullover at work.

Thanks John, that is really helpful, Barbara.

36 comments:

  1. Hi Barbara, Love your blog and I think that machine could be one of the early combine harvesters. I remember helping Mum make lemonade and taking jugs of it up to the fields when we would all picnic in what always seemed good weather. xxx

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    1. I think you could be right Sue. Do you remember the caterpillar type machine? I have no recollection of it or the lemonade, although I think I remember the picnics. I really wish I could go back and live it all again, but this time I would take notes and plenty of photographs! I hope Tony gets to see this but the last time I spoke to him he said he doesn’t spend much time on the Internet.

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  2. Super stuff again Barbara and some intriguing pictures.

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    1. Thanks John, looking through the photos brought back so many memories. No technical details as you can clearly see – but then I’m a girl!

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  3. Great family tractor photographs, and even a 'brush with fame' :-) I imagine my knowledgeable son-in-law would be able to identify all those machines, but I certainly can't.

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    1. Hello Jo, I wish I had paid more attention to my dad now. If I had my time over again I would spend more time listening and less time playing with girly things. Thanks for your visit.

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  4. I agree about spending time with one's Dad. I regret all the lost opportunities to hear my father's war stories...so boring when you're a kid and so interesting once you get to that certain age. I still think of Andrew and Sarah as a couple of kids. Great photos.

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    1. Hello Helen, I couldn't agree more, the opportunity to listen passes in a flash but at least our children and grandchildren will have the opportunity to read about our lives. I’m not sure they will thank that a good thing at the moment, but maybe in years to come. :-)
      I think Andrew and Sarah would be delighted to be thought of in that way.

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  5. It's amazing how some farm machinery can look like pre-historic monsters. A lovely collection oif family photos.

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    1. Farm machinery has certainly changed a lot in the last 60 years I wonder what it will be like 60 years from now. Thanks for coming over.

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  6. Farm work has lots of wonderful sounds from the equipment as well as from the animals. These are great photos. (FYI -- if you even care, you can go into your dashboard and delete the deleted comments permanently so that you don't have a string of deleted comments.)

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    1. Hi Wendy, I really do care, but I’ve messed up – I didn’t notice the remove forever checkbox at the time I deleted the comments, and I don’t think it’s possible to do it retrospectively. This is what is on the help pages:
      There's also a checkbox that says "Remove Forever" -- if you check that before you delete the comment, no trace of the comment will remain on your blog. Otherwise, the commenter's name and a message saying "this comment has been removed" will show up where the comment used to be.
      So sadly the string of deleted comments will have to stay.

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    2. Barbara, you can still delete. Go to blogger then comments. You'll see a list of all the comments and each can be individually deleted. (Including this one.)

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    3. Thank you Nancy, I had no idea I could do that. I really disliked that string of deletions, feeling much happier now.

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  7. I have a collection of old photos from my Baba (grandmother) that I want to put together into some kind of tribute. It's a project for another day right now, but I do so love old photos!
    (P.S. I figured out how to add share buttons to my blog! - Thanks so much for visiting!)

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    1. Hi Brandy, what a lovely tribute that will be and interesting too. It does take a lot of time putting everything together, but it’s also a lot of fun.
      I’m glad you sorted out the share buttons; it allowed me to share your latest post to Twitter. Thanks for visiting, Barbara

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  8. Interesting photos. Some of those machines are pretty scary looking.

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    1. They certainly do, especially the 'claas' one with all the bits sticking out of the sides.

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  9. A great collection of photos...........but I like the one of you and your doll best :)

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  10. For all the history of the farm in my family, there aren't a lot of photos to show for it, you have a great collection.

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    1. Hello Anna, there are lots more somewhere but the albums got split up among the family after my parents died. Such a shame as I would love to have copies of them all!

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  11. Wonderful to have photographs of your family's working life. Love the photograph of yourself with dolly - I remember that hairstyle very well - short but with a big bow, but my ribbon always kept slipping and was a pain!

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    1. My mum put a big floppy bow in my hair every day for years and years. I must look for some of the photographs with all the different styles, in, out, half in, hanging out, falling over my eyes, sitting on my shoulder – you know the kind of thing! Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment, Barbara.

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  12. Thanks for sharing such great memories, and they are a way to keep these strange machines alive, as well, of course, as your family's men running them!

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    1. I have to agree with you, and I’m enjoying looking at and sharing the photographs.

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  13. Barbara, I'm so impressed that you have black and white family photographs of your family members on farm equipment. Someone had forethought to take those photos. How fun to see a photograph of your brother with royalty. That's a sweet photograph of you with your doll.

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    1. Hello Nancy, I feel really privileged to have the photos and to be able to share them. I’m guessing my mum took them, but I could be wrong. Wish I could remember! :-)
      Thanks for coming over, Barbara.

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  14. It's good that someone thought to get the camera out to record the farm activities.

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    1. Yes, and I’m really glad they did. Thanks for visiting, Barbara,

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  15. I often wonder, when I see complicated-looking farm machinery - or any complicated machinery for that matter - how someone managed to think up something like that & how it would work. Certainly more logical minds than mine! And what a kick - your brother hobnobbing with royalty.

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    1. My brother hobnobbing with royalty is probably as close as I will ever get to any of them – so I did rather enjoy sharing his fame! :-)

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  16. Goodness, your photos bring back memories! Hot days in the fields, hanging sacks of flasks of tea and sandwiches on gateposts (or beer when it was later on in the day) and the noises which went on well into the night. Even now, I will leave the bedroom windows open at harvest time and go to bed early - but it takes relatively little time to do the cutting and baling. Thankfully!

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    1. I remember my dad working from dawn to dusk during the summer months. I would be in bed long before he finished and still in bed when he went back out. When I got a little older, I would go and watch the combined harvester and ride on the tractors. I’ve shared many a lunch time sandwich with my dad. We would sit on a sack (I think he only did that when I joined him) in the relative shade of a tractor wheel or close to the combine. Happy memories but I wish dad had worn a face mask. He like many farmers of his generation ended up with “farmers lung” and eventually died of pneumonia. Thanks for your visit, I will be over to see you in a while, Barbara

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  17. Great post! I hadn't thought about the noise of farm machinery, but of course it would be quite loud and must have made some older farmers long for the pastoral sound of horse drawn equipment.

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    1. Hi Mike, I think you could be right. The sound of logging with chains and heavy tractors was certainly very loud. We lived in a valley and the sound used to reverberate, especially when they went on working in the evenings which they often did. It makes me sad to think of how many trees must have been cut down.

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I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara x

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