Transcript of interview with Pam Sawyer, Field Farm, Tytherton Lucas
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Doug Sawyer on his tractor at Field Farm
Before I got married, I did supply teaching in a very poor area of Birmingham. I met Doug when I was on holiday at a Christian holiday centre. It was a long time til we met again and then very romantically got married. My Birmingham family had to get used to the dialect of a Wiltshire farmer. I came here to the farm (Field Farm, Tytherton Lucas) 53 years ago and started my life as a farmer’s wife which was a big contrast. I was 30 years old then.
Doug was born here in 1928. He went to the Moravian church school behind the church in East Tytherton. I think he went in the pony and trap with Serena Lamb from Coggswell. You can picture the scene of them clopping along the road to school. He then went to Ivy Lane school in Chippenham. He left school at 14 to help on the farm. In fact, he used to help his father to milk the cows before cycling into Chippenham to school. It does make you wonder why kids don’t walk and cycle anymore.
In the war Doug was an ARP1 warden and the station was near Barnbridge. He told me that there was a plane which came down in the field opposite the Maidment’s, over the river Marden. I suppose it was a German plane. Doug took over the farm from his father when he was 21. You look at 21 year olds today and they don’t know where to start. He was amazing! We had a dairy herd - 40 or 50 cows which was not that big. The land was quite scattered, so we had to take the cows down the road to the fields. There was a bus twice a week through here which we thought was quite good. But we had to take care if the bus was coming and not let the cows out otherwise the bus had to trundle up the road behind the herd. We always kept the cows out except in the winter months. The farmers of Doug’s era wouldn’t approve of the changes to farming and keeping cattle indoors. It's all so different now!
Doug had bought the land in front of Stokes cottages and over the bridge2 towards Maidment’s3 farm. We used to take the cows over that rickety rackety bridge. One cow went over the side of the bridge and ended up in Maidment’s field. We had to go along the road and over his fields to get it back. The cows used to walk down the bank of the river to drink. We did have a cow calve in the river. It had milk fever. The only way to get it out was to get the fire brigade who came full blast and clanging their horn to help the cow up, and the vet who gave it an injection so it could walk out. And they say country life is dull!
We used to get up at 5 and I used to walk down the field and think I was the only person up in the village. The house the Cook’s now live in we used to call the “Dolls house”. The couple living there used to go to London in their car as I got up in the morning and I used to think I would not swap my life in the country for theirs! How that house has grown up and out to the sides. People like to buy property and put their stamp on it.
I learnt a lot about country life and the different ways. Doug sadly had arthritis so we had to finish with the dairy herd in ’98 which was a very sad day after all those years of dairying. We had to pen the cows up before they went. Then we went away for the weekend and we looked at the milk served and wondered “is this milk or white water?” as ours was so rich straight from the herd. We all led healthy lives, so it didn’t do us any harm having milk straight from the cows. It was strange then having to buy milk from a supermarket!
When it was holiday times, people used to say “Great it’s Christmas Day”, but we had to get up an hour earlier because the tanker would come early. We never had a day off. Before we had a milk tank, the milk went straight into churns and the churns had to be taken down the lane and put on a stand for the lorry to go to the factory.
I must be one of the very few that still hasn’t got central heating. When I first got here there was just a fire in the lounge. We huddled round the fire so we were warm in front but our backs would still be freezing cold from the droughts. Over the years it became more difficult taking meals to the other room. So what is now our kitchen was changed from the dairy. When you’re farming, the house is the last thing you think of, so any money made from the farm was ploughed back into the farm. Doug did like to do the garden and we grew all our own vegetables.
We had 4 daughters who all went to East Tytherton School and then Hardenhuish in Chippenham, The older one, Becky, married a farmer, Gill went into nursing, Alison is a beautician and Katie is a receptionist at Rowden surgery. They all work in the caring sector which is tough going now and they are in Covid gear every day which is exhausting. I have started to think what the future holds for the children, their children and great grandchildren. I have 10 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren. I feel really blessed but I do think about their future. And for myself, I feel privileged to be in such a lovely area!
NOTES: Doug told me that your house (Westfield House) used to be a country club. They would come out from Chippenham to the country club and stagger, slightly sozzled, back to Chippenham and one or two were found in the ditch. Curricombe farm house is thought to have been associated with the church – ask Alan Hutchins or before him Alfie Holder lived there.
Interviewed over the phone by Helen Stuckey
Pam has agreed that this transcript can be used for the Bremhill Parish History project
- ARP - Air Raid Precautions were set up by local authorities to protect civilians from the danger of air raids. ARP wardens enforced the blackouts so German planes found it more difficult to locate their bombing targets.
- The bridge is over the river Marden. It has 3 stone arches and no sides. It is listed by English Heritage
- Maidment’s farm is New Leaze farm