Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Wartime Farm

Ruth Goodman, Peter Ginn and HCA Patron Alex Langlands are back – this time it’s Wartime Farm. Following on from Edwardian Farm and Victorian Farm, in this series the trio are turning back the clock to World War II to run Manor Farm in Hampshire for a year. The first episode was broadcast last Thursday, 8pm, BBC2 (available on i-player until the end of October) - with another seven episodes to keep us Farm addicts happy!

The new series focuses on how Britain fed itself during World War II. At the outbreak of war in 1939, Britain imported 70% of its food. Shipping was a key target and Britain had to look at how to provide for itself. 

Heritage craft has already made an appearance in the first episode. Blacksmithing as a craft was in decline in the 1930s but came back into demand during the War, especially as blacksmiths were able to 'make do and mend', making new tools out of rusty metal as scrap metal was going to the war effort.

In Episode 1, blacksmith Simon Summers showed Peter how to make a mole plough for draining land. When war broke out 4 million acres of land needed draining before it could be ploughed and converted to farmland. A mole plough consists of a narrow blade which, when dragged through the ground, leaves a deep channel which acts as a drain. 

Simon and Peter search the hedgerows to find suitable metal to make a mole plough from. This piece of iron will form the bullet-shaped 'blade'.
Transforming the rusty axle into a mole plough.
The mole begins to take shape.
The finished mole.
Peter and Alex with the finished mole plough.
Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, the mole plough wasn't quite heavy enough or strong enough to break through the soil, and eventually Alex, Peter and Ruth (driving the tractor) had to plough the field without draining it.

Hopefully we'll get a chance to see some more crafts over the series. Take a look at the HCA website to read a message from Alex about crafts during the war, and some of the things he's had a go at over the series. Don't forget to watch tomorrow night!

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