#52Ancestors theme for this week is Document and I have so many copies of documents that I was struggling to pick one to write about. Searching my A3 folder of early photocopies from TNA I found a large envelope which contained a photocopy of the Farm Survey for my great grandfather George Charles Pilbeam’s farm at Three Cups near Punnetts Town. Wow I had forgotten I had ordered it! The envelope is postmarked 2013.
When the Second World War began in September 1939, Britain was faced with an urgent need to increase food production, as imports of food and fertilisers were drastically cut. The area of land under cultivation had to be increased significantly and quickly. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries set up War Agricultural Executive Committees in each county (‘County War Ags’) to carry out a farm survey between 1940 and 1941 and to use the information collected to bring uncultivated land under the plough and to improve poor farms.
Once the short-term objective of increasing food production had been met, the government decided to carry out a more general National Farm Survey between 1941 and 1943, with a longer-term purpose of providing data that would form the basis of post-war planning. Such a survey was seen at the time as a ‘Second Domesday Book’, a ‘permanent and comprehensive record of the conditions on the farms of England and Wales’.
The first survey showed that:
No fruits or vegetables were being grown for human consumption. There was ¼ acre of main crop potatoes, ½ acre of turnips and swede for fodder. There was ¼ acre of kale for fodder. Also ¼ acre of All other crops. Seven acres of permanent grass for mowing and 11 ¾ acres of permanent grass for grazing. Total acreage was 20 acres.
Employed labour on 4 June 1941 consisted of 1 male part time worker, 21 years old and above.
There were 8 cows and heifers and 17 fowl over 6 months and 1 horse used for agricultural purposes.
The general survey for Rushford Farm was carried out on 30 October 1942. The farm was recorded as 18 acres within the parish of Warbleton and the farmer was G C Pilbeam of Rushford Farm, Three Cups, Dallington, Heathfield, Sussex.
The general comments are as follows:-
Small dairy holding quite well kept and having sufficient ploughed out to maintain the herd in winter green fodder. One field has also been reseeded. This could be carried further to some of the other fields where the grass is getting worn out. Stock and general management satisfactory. The water arrangements could be better. Stock: Cows 7 young stock 4 Horses 1.
Information gained from the survey tells me that:
George Pilbeam owned the farm and was a full time farmer. He didn’t occupy any other land or have other grazing rights.
The condition of the farm was 100% medium soil. The farm was conveniently laid out and was 100% naturally fair. The situation with regard to road was fair and railway was bad. The nearest railway station is Heathfield some miles away. The condition of the farmhouse was good, farm buildings and road were fair, fences – good, ditches – fair and field drainage was good.
There were no infestations and no derelict fields. Water supply to the farmhouse was from the well, farm buildings from the roof, fields from a stream and there was a pond that supplied water both to the farm buildings and the fields. There was no seasonal shortage of water and no electricity supply.
The farm was classified as A. The condition of the Arable land was good, pasture good to fair. Adequate use of fertilisers on the arable land and to some extent on the grassland. For the 1941 harvest 2 fields were marked for fodder crops to be grown.
The first glance at the documents didn’t look like it was going to reveal as much information as it did. The condition of the farm and buildings as well as the stock on the farm. A lot of information about the farm can be gleaned from it and I’m off to see if there are any other farms in my family I need to know more about.