Farming history circa 1937, recorded 2004

Alan Geeson

I came to the village at the age of 3 yrs in 1937 when my father took on the tenancy of Hall Farm from Mr G.A.Ross and I left the village in 1962 although I still kept in contact for some years while my mother lived at “Rosealan” in Balderton Lane. My father had been a farm pupil with Mr Ross in the early years after being wounded in the first world war, until 1926 and told me a great deal about the history of the village and the people. I was educated at Coddington School up to 1944, when I went to the Magnus Grammar School and I worked at Hall Farm from about 1951 to 1958, but also worked threshing on many other farms.

What is astonishing is the number of farms and small -holdings that existed 50 years ago and now have gone. I will try to list them and give what details I can recall. Unfortunately I do not have a map but will try to give locations by starting at the Plough and following various roads.

1). Plough Inn. Was kept by Arthur Henton who also had a paddock of about 1/2 acre and a very large garden, both on the Newark side of the pub, one on either side of the bypass and he did some market gardening there.

2). Towards Beckingham about 100 yards from the Plough are two houses still there facing the Plough, in the one furthest from the road lived Fred Parkes, son of Sam Parkes who kept the Red Lion. Fred had a large grass field across the road from his house and a range of arable land about 1/2 a mile down Sleaford Road. This land was a strip of 3 or 4 fields back from the road on the Left leaving the village and the field nearest the road was next to the allotment field. Like jost farmers at that time Fred carried on a wide range of activities including contract sheep shearing but I don’t think he milked.

3). In Fred’s grass field stood a modern house, about 100 yards from Fred’s buildings, still there and it was occupied by Mr Fryer who retailed milk in Newark which I think he must have got from the Daybell’s. He did this from 2 large cans balanced on a bicycle, which was no mean feat as he had an artificial foot.

4). Passing on towards Beckingham just past Stapleford Lane end is a track on the right which leads to the Folly, a long way back from the road, very isolated, used as a market garden by Roger Williams who transported his produce on a bicycle with a large basket on the front. After he left this was taken over by the Kirkham family, who later had a green grocery shop in Middlegate, Newark. At least they had a car or a van!

5). Carrying on towards Beckingham on the left about 1/4 mile further was the Tinderbox, a smallholding where goats were kept . I do not recall who lived there.

60. Maybe not in Coddington Parish, the next farm was Flawford on the left set back from the road and kept by Archie Kerr, one of the South Scottish farmers who moved into the area during the depression. The Kerrs had a good herd of Ayrshire Cattle and sold milk, I think to the Co-op as we did. 3 daughters live locally.
That concludes Sleaford Road.

Now back to Stapleford Lane.
1). Coddington Moor was the first farm on the right, with a substantial house but rather poor land. Colonel and Mrs Dorothy Thorpe lived there. The Thorpe family had been the owners of jost of the village until 1918, the eldest son was killed in the war. The one at Coddington Moor was married to the Tallents family who lived in Coddington House. His efforts at farming were rather dilettante to put it mildly. The place was greatly livened up when it became a hostel for Women’s Land Army in the war and there was much social life for a time.
After the war the moor was sold to Mrs Comins and her husband who had a herd of Guernsey cattle, got more land and were much more successful than the Thorpes had been. The rest of the Parish along Stapleford Lane, some I think being owned by the Thorpes but much under the control of the Forestry Commission.

Back to the Plough and down Drove Lane.

1. First farm on the left was Hall Farm, my home. Typical mixed, about 12-15 cows, some milk retailed , some to Nottingham Co-op, beef cattle, about 6 horses 30 sheep, poultry, a few pigs, corn, sugar beet etc. House largely built out of Coddington Limestone, the source of which is unknown to me might be of interest to find out, there is a field called stone pits on the farm, which had a little old quarry but there were several old cottages built of this material including one up Balderton Lane near the mill.
When the Hall was in its heyday and the Thorpes were the wealthy estate owners and squires Hall Farm was the home farm for the estate and was managed together with Dairy Manor Farm by Mr Ross, father of the previously mention Mr G. A. Ross. There was a slaughter house where Aberdeen Angus bullocks from the Thorpe Scottish estate were killed for the Hall, much of the granary had shafting and belt drives for barn machinery, there was a threshing set and steam engine for driving equipment.

2). Round the corner onto the Green, what is now The Inn on the Green, occupied in my youth by Mr James Hollingworth senior who farmed Manor Dairy Farm with his sons Fred, James and Billy. The malt kiln was in the 1920s and my father used to talk of malt being delivered by horse and cart into the Vale of Belvoir, quite a trip at 3-4 miles an hour. Manor Dairy Farm was of course noted for the leading herds of British Friesian cattle and they had a large retail business in Albert Street in Newark managed by Mr James Hollingworth’s son in law.

3). Along Drove Lane for about 1/4 mile are two grass lanes known as the cross lanes, one on the right led to the house recently occupied by Mr and Mrs Baden Troop. This was just farmland until the war when an army camp was set up there to maintain searchlight batteries, at one time this got quite big and a brick bathhouse was built which served the foundation for Baden’s house. Most of the land down there was farmed by us or Hollingworth’s, I think, if my memory serves me right that John Barton, Bill Phillips and Fred Tysoe were serving there or in the R.A.F. and married Coddington girls and stayed in the village.

4). The cross lane on the left led to a small farm, Drove Lane Farm, which had lost most of its land to the aerodrome. Latterly it was farmed by Wilf Richardson as a pig farm, he collected swill from army camps, restaurants etc. and actually lived in Newark. This farm was approached by a rough track, very isolated and must have been a grim place in the winter.

5). Back on Drove Lane the next farm on the right is Drove Farm, formerly “Drove Cottage”, farmed by Dick Slack, a smallish farm, mixed. Now farmed by Bernard Allen and family.

6). I am not sure where the Parish boundaries are and the next two may be in Landford or Winthorpe Parishes. Follow Drove Lane for about a 1/3 mile there is a sharp left hand bend, a track to the right leads to Langford Moor, a lonely but substantial farm, in my youth farmed by Mr Todd. mainly arable.

7). 300 yards further up Drove Lane on the right is Lingspot Farm, mixed but substantial, farmed by George Taylor of Brough, I think much of the land must have taken for the aerodrome.

Back to the Plough and up the bypass towards Newark and onto Newark Road

1). After 1/2 mile on the left was a dairy farm run by Ted Black, he owned property in Newark and sold milk there, again he lost land to the R.A.F.

2). The drive to the Hall was on the right . In my day the Hall had been demolished but the old walled garden was run as a market garden by Freddie Boor who sold his produce from a motorbike and sidecar.
3). Again down the Hall drive was Beaconfield Farm, fairly substantial holding but isolated, occupied by the Clarks as a dairy farm and later by Peter Hutchinson.

4). Next farm in that direction was on the left where the A.1. now is, an ex-pub known as Catch-em-Inn. It was a dairy farm kept by an oldish man, Arthur Black, commonly known as “waddingtabs” from his habit of always having his ears stuffed with cotton wool, he sold milk in Newark from a pony and trap. He was succeeded by Harry Davies until the A.1 bypass was built.

Back to the Plough and the village centre. Up what we used to call Ducky Lane.

1). The first farm was Sunnyside farm, orginally farmed by Mr John Smith then the Kirtons, Derick and John know far more about it.

2). Next to it on the left was Manor Farm. The Simpson family had this and a small butchers shop before rationing came in, again a mixed farm.

3). Across the road was Charity Farm farmed by Harry Walster and rented from the Coddington United Charities, his land was miles away down Drove Lane and Stapleford Lane, very inconvenient. Harry was also a pig killer for the village. How many of these small farmers managed a living I cannot understand.

Next to the Manor Farm was the Pinfold, but I cannot remember it being used and behind Manor Farm was a cottage known as the Dovecote, which I believe had been a dovecote many years ago when pigeons were a useful source of meat in the winter.

Up the hill, past the old school was the business of the Hough brothers, not farmers but vital to farms, the Blacksmiths shop was there and Houghs did threshing, haulage, timber felling etc. Good engineers and practical men.

Up Balderton Lane was the empire of the Daybell family, descendants of Charles Daybell.

1). Vale Farm, now Martin Handbury’s, was occupied by Martin’s grandfather, Harold Handbury and his wife, Mary who was a Daybell. This was home to a dairy herd.

2). Next was a house and buildings (The Homestead) opposite the council houses, occupied by Ted Daybell.

3). The 3rd Daybell Farm (Hill Farm) was further on the left occupied by old Mrs Daybell and Frank and George Daybell, here were sheep and beef and a very well run arable farm, mainly managed by Frank.

4). Just past the lane end to Hill Farm was the Coddington Mill. In my day it was occupied by Sam Lee, a mixed holding, not very big but they had 27 acres belonging to Coddington United Charities. I cannot remember the mill being worked by wind but some corn was ground for animal feed using a stationery engine in my youth.

5). On the opposite side of the road was a farm, I think it was called Hilltop Farm right on the brow of the hill with a substantial house and again a mixed holding. I think someone called Robinson had farmed it hence Robinson’s Hill, but someone called Atkins had it , later it passed to Daybells and eventually the land to Whites.

Another agricultural enterprise was Walter Hall’s. He started getting wood fron Stapleford Woods and selling it for fire wood etc. He had various bits of land all over and at one time got up to 6 horses and later a tractor, he was uncle to the Kirtons and Bernard Tilley so they all know all about him.

I make this somewhere about 25 holdings and just over 50 people were employed plus many who did jobs or casual work servicing the farms. What a contrast to today!