One hundred years ago – April 1917.

On behalf of Miss Penhale, auctioneers Smyth-Richards, Stapleton and Fox are selling two lots of property:

Thornbury and Higher Thorne’,a farm of 140 acres with stone and slate buildings and a thatched cottage.  Two arable fields at Horestone Cross, comprising 19 acres.

Miss Penhale is also selling all her livestock and machinery, including 35 good quality growing bullocks, 160 sheep and lambs, a handsome cart mare (5 years old) and 4 fat pigs. (Ed – Is Miss Penhale having to give up due to the shortage of labour and horses?).

The case of a widow with 4 sons at the front, who has land and seed potatoes, but no-one to plant them, has prompted Northam UDC to release employees to help with food production, at the discretion of the surveyor.

New prices for ‘eating’ potatoes have been announced by the Food Controller- retailers can now charge 1¾d per pound. Some farmers and market traders have been heavily fined for selling seed potatoes at “prices beyond the maximum” which police consider a very serious offence. The Master of the Torrington Board of Guardians says the present stock of ‘eating potatoes’ will not last more than 5 weeks.

After the cold spring, the Board of Agriculture advises bee-keepers to use a feeding syrup made up of special coloured candy, unfit for human consumption but fit for bees. The spring mixture should be 1 lb of candy to ¾ pint of hot water, with a less concentrated mixture to be used in the autumn if needed.

Despite the cold spring, salmon fishing by rod and line has opened well, with several fish over 20 lbs being caught. The water of the Torridge is in good condition and fish are plentiful.

Poultry keeping is becoming popular, with several adverts for birds and eggs. The well-known breeds like Rhode Island Reds and Leghorns are joined by less familiar names – LaBresse, Langshans, Wyandottes, Plymouth Rock, Silver Campines and Sicilian Buttercups.

Heard Brothers arranged two successful tractor ploughing demonstrations, one in Percy Squires’ 5 acre field at Bowood and a second in Mr Pennington’s field at Ashridge. Over 100 people attended in spite of the short notice. Following the demonstrations, Norman Heard writes that he has instructions from the Board of Agriculture to engage additional men to operate their equipment in a large area to the west of Bideford; usual rates of pay will apply.

These and many more items of local interest are available to read at the Bideford Community Archive at the Council Offices, Windmill Lane, Northam. Tel: 01237 471714. Open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.

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