Down on the farm

THE farm machinery being used in the photo above for the harvest at Manor Farm, Stopsley, in August 1949 seems very primitive compared to today’s tractors and combine harvesters.

Sunday, 11th September 2011, 12:23 pm

Under the headline ‘Gathering the harvest’, the picture was published in the Tuesday Pictorial, which was then a sister paper of the Luton News.

But according to the article alongside it, the farmer, Mr Shaw, was revolutionary in his methods.

“Gone are the days of horse-drawn reapers with folk following behind to place the sheaves of corn into stooks,” said the paper.

“Instead, Mr Shaw is using a combine harvester which cuts, separates and threshes the grain.”

The Stopsley Book, by James Dyer, describes the history of Manor Farm in Butterfield Green Road.

It was built around 1870 and the Sowerby family of Putteridgebury had purchased the land two years earlier.

George Shaw became tenant farmer in 1888 and since then various members of the Shaw family have farmed there.

Harry Toyer was one of the more unusual employees of Manor Farm.

He was born at Lilley Bottom Farm in 1868 and at the age of 26 he went to Russia to learn farming techniques, which really was revolutionary.

> The Saturday Telegraph, another paper in the Luton News stable in those days, carried the photo above in April 1952.

The paper reported that Luton Corporation was soon to part with the last of its horses as they were too expensive to maintain in the face of increasing mechanisation and use of motor vehicles.

Daisy and Gypsy, both aged 11, and Johnny, seven, were greys, while Prince, the chestnut, was 11.

The Telegraph mentioned that in the 1930s the Corporation had 46 horses stabled at St Mary’s Road.

They were used for all sorts of tasks and eight teams of horses were sent out in the mornings to pull the dustcarts.

Mr W. Day was in charge of the stables and had been with the local authority since 1933.

Fortunately, even before the sale was announced, farmers were putting in offers for the horses.