Boxted Hall Farm Scenes

  • Theme - Agriculture
  • Year - 1925
  • Location - Colchester
  • Filmmaker - Ralph Blewitt

Notes

Boxted Hall Farm was a mixed farm of arable crops and livestock, based in Boxted in Suffolk, in the heart of Suffolk's Dedham Vale. This was a time when heavy horses, typically the short-legged, strong-bodied breed, known as the 'Suffolk Punch', were essential to perform the heavy work on the farm. The horsemen were important figures among the workforce and took great pride in their animals.

The farm belonged to the Blewitt family - Guy, his wife Audrey and filmmaker Ralph and his wife Denise. The brothers acquired the farm in 1922 and Ralph’s film is a good record of the agricultural work that took place there in the 1920’s.These were difficult times in agriculture. Wages were particularly low – a labourer would earn about 28 shillings (around £1.40) for a 54 hour a week. But with work hard to find and many families living in poverty, men were glad of a regular job. This was a time when social distinctions between classes were strictly maintained and although the relationship between landowner and workman was friendly, they did not meet as equals. The request for the workers to remove their caps for the filming would have been obeyed without question.

While teams of horses were put to harness to pull harrows, cultivators or the heavy wagons and tumbrels filled with sacks of grain, a Fordson tractor makes a surprising appearance on the farm. The Fordson had only been available in Britain since the end of 1917 - clearly, the Blewitt brothers were keen to invest in new developments in order to improve productivity and profit. Through his experience as an officer in the Territorial Army, Ralph Blewitt would have been familiar with the use of the latest tractors and other machinery. A team of up to 12 farm workers operated the threshing machine, which made the job of separating the grain from the chaff ,faster and more efficient. The small van was used to take the milk from the cows to the dairy in Colchester.

The gradual mechanisation of farming meant that the 23 men who were once employed at Boxted Hall Farm, were reduced to just 2 by 1996.

EAFA CAT NO: 709

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