Pete Lake talking about farming


Pete in 1961

Walnut Tree cottages where grandad lived

10 Steps Shillington Rd where Dad Stan Lake lived

the manor house for Rectory Manor and is basically a typical Elizabethan house, although much altered in later centuries. Previously farmed by tenants of absentee landlords, who were lay rectors of the parish, it was the first farm to be purchased and farmed by its owner, Daniel Davis, who bought it in 1870 for £17,500. His son, Bob Davis seen here (left) with his horse keeper, became a local councillor and chairman of the school board. Davis Crescent is named after him.

John Gurney seen down Millway (Hambridge Way) with a drag harrow used to prepare the ground ready for planting. The whipple tree and way trees to which the horses were chained from the collars, can be seen clearly. The ground in Pirton was called a,”two horse plough,” as two horses could plough one acre in a day. In just one hundred years, we observe the change from man and horse power, to steam power and thence to the petrol engine, remembering that for half of this period, farmers also continued to use horse power. Franklin was the last farmer to plough with horses in Pirton. After the First World War, there were fewer horses but they continued to be used for working potato crops. horses used till 1947 alongside tractors

1950s A typical field of shocks opposite West Lane. Fieldworkers had to work quickly when a reaping machine was used, as a clear path was needed for each circuit of the field. Franklin had about 18 permanent labourers but would employ many more casual workers at harvest time. In the early twentieth century, men like George Lake who lived in Shillington Road, walked with his scythe to Barnet, where he would stay for the summer working for different farms

1950s Charlie Olney building the ricks with a petrol driven motor elevator. He was the horse keeper, foreman who worked for Mr. Franklin, the tenant farmer of Highdown and Walnut Tree Farms.

Finally, the grain went down a chute into sacks, which can be seen here being collected by Sid Jarvis, who worked for George Burton on Burge End Farm. They were loaded on the trailer and taken to Bowman’s Mill in Ickleford.

worker would be “yelming”, that is wetting and straightening the corn for the thatcher


Percy Collins, the shepherd at Highdown Farm, tends a flock of about 500 sheep. Behind is the lambing pen constructed from straw bales and hurdles. Davis at Rectory Farm had 300 sheep; Coxalls at Walnut Tree had 500. At Burge End Farm the sheep were dipped in the Wash Brook which can still be seen there today. At lambing season the shepherd spent day and night with the flock .When the lambs were fattened, the shepherd would walk the flock to be sold at Hitchin Market. Pat Wright who worked for Franklins of Walnut Tree and Highdown farms was the last shepherd in Pirton.


Joe Davis is at Walnut Tree Farm, carrying out the twice daily task of milking. Dairy cows were kept on Walnut Tree and Rectory farm on a fairly large scale. Villagers would take a jug to the farms to collect their milk until Tom Lake began a delivery service in the 1920s. A team of farm workers withMr Franklin riding on his horse, would drive 20 to 30 cattle through Hitchin from the Station to Pirton

Bob Males was stockman for Laurie Franklin


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