Training disabled Officers in Agriculture

Officers were helped to settle down as farmers.

Agricultural Instruction Committee report
18 October 1919

OFFICERS’ AGRICULTURAL TRAINING

The Board of Agriculture have furnished their observations with regard to the future working of this Scheme, the principal of which are (a) the number of allowances to be granted have been increased from 1,000 to 2,000; (b) the more stringent selection of candidates, and (c) grants hitherto paid to be regarded in future as maximum grants.

The Sub-committee submit the following information:

Applications received
Withdrawn 3
Transferred to other counties 2
In abeyance 1
Returned to Board of Agriculture 2
Refused 23
To be interviewed 5
Interviewed 43
Total 79

Applicants interviewed
Transferred 3
Refused 5
Withdrawn 5
Recommended for grant 30
Total 43

Applicants recommended
Placed 26
To be placed 1
Withdrawn 3
Total 30

Applicants at present in training 23
Applicants relinquished training 1
Applicants not commenced training 3
Total 27

Number of farmers selected as suitable to give training 32

TRAINING OF DISABLED OFFCIERS

The Board of Agriculture and Fisheries have taken over the responsibility of training disabled Officers in Agriculture, who are eligible for training under the Royal Pensions Warrant, and the Committee are asked to cooperate in the administration of the Scheme. The functions which the Committee would be called on to perform are (a) to act as advisors to the Board and to candidates; (b) to assist candidates to get into touch with suitable farmers; and (c) to supervise the training. All allowances and fees will be paid direct by the Board.
Acting upon the Board’s suggestion, the Committee have delegated the local administration of the Scheme to the Officers’ Agricultural Training Sub-committee.

Smallholdings and Allotments Committee report, 18 October 1919

COOMBE ESTATE

Mr A C Cole offered his Coombe Estate (about 2,300 acres) for a colony for the settlement of ex-Service men, and the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries requested that the property should be inspected…

The Committee have received a full report by the Land Steward, but cannot recommend it for either Small Holdings or Land Settlement….

While recommending schemes for Small Holdings which show a heavy annual deficit, the Committee have requested that the attention of the Council should be drawn to the fact that such schemes are not only approved by the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, but are undertaken primarily to provide for the settlement of ex-Service men, to whom preference is recommended under the Land Settlement (Facilities) Act.

Berkshire County Council minutes (C/CL/C1/1/22)

Uncertain whether any part of the properties are suitable for land settlement

It was hard to find land to offer to ex-servicemen hoping to go into farming.

Report of Small Holdings and Allotment Committee to BCC, 18 January 1919

FARINGDON

Land belonging to Oriel College

Correspondence, which has passed between the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries and Oriel College with reference to an offer by the latter of land for the settlement of ex-servicemen, has resulted in the College sending to the Board a schedule of their lands in various counties. In the correspondence the Treasurer of the College reminds the Board that in addition to the reluctance that the College naturally feel in disturbing the tenants of lands held under them, they would make themselves liable to claims for compensation should they seek to render their land available for the purpose. In the circumstances they suggest the Board should address the leading farmers on the subject in order that they may voluntarily relinquish land for the purpose. The Treasurer states that the College have no unoccupied lands in hand, and are uncertain whether any part of the properties are suitable for land settlement.

The Board request that the property in the county should be inspected to ascertain whether it would be suitable for the purpose.

The College Authorities have been asked to send a detailed schedule and a plan of each farm to facilitate this.

HUNGERFORD

Port Down and Freeman’s Marsh

It has been suggested to the Committee that the above property might be acquired for land settlement.

The land is stated to be part of the endowment of the Town and Manor Charity at Hungerford, to be about 350 acres in extent, but to be subject to certain common rights.

The Clerk to the Charity has been communicated with; he states he will bring the matter before the trustees at their next meeting….

LONG WITTENHAM

St John’s College land

The Board of Agriculture and Fisheries asked the Council to report on the Manor Farm, Long Wittenham, which had been put forward for the settlement of ex-service men.

After considering a report by the Land Steward, the Board have requested the Council to consider the advisability of negotiating for the acquisition of the property.

The Committee also considered the report, and asked the Sub-committee to enter into negotiations.

Report of Small Holdings and Allotment Committee to Berkshire County Council, 18 January 1919, in BCC minutes (C/CL/C1/1/22)

“The matter is one of great urgency in view of the approaching demobilisation of the Forces”

Some former soldiers were interested in the opportunity of farming – but would it be affordable?

A further circular letter has been received from the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries dated 14 January, 1919, as follows:

Sir,

The Government have come to the conclusion that while the County Councils are the most suitable bodies to be entrusted with the local administration of the matter, the financial responsibility for the loss which must inevitably occur in creating small holdings under present conditions should be borne by the Exchequer and no charge should be placed on local rates…. The Board will repay to the Council the whole of the deficiency between revenue and expenditure on the Small Holdings undertaking of the Council as a whole including the land already acquired….

As the whole of the financial responsibility has been assumed by the State, the Board feel confident that they can rely on the active assistance of your Council in carrying into effect without delay the desire of the Government to settle on the land of this country as many as possible of the ex-service men who are qualified to become successful small holders. The Board will be glad to receive at the earliest possible date concrete proposals from your Council for the acquisition of suitable land for the purpose, and I am to point out that the matter is one of great urgency in view of the approaching demobilisation of the Forces….

The Board feel sure that Councils will be vigilant guardians of the public funds which they will administer and that they will exercise all possible care and economy with regard to the price to be paid for the land, the expenditure on equipment, and the cost of administration.

I am, Sir, &c

A D Hall
Secretary.

The men attached to Agricultural Companies working in Berkshire (approximately 1,500) have been circularised with a letter and application form (issued by the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries) with a view to ascertaining, in accordance with the Board’s request, the number who desire to settle on the land on demobilisation.

The total number of application forms returned to this Committee from men who definitely state they desire to settle in Berkshire is 84, besides three others, of whom one gives Oxfordshire, one Surrey and one Hampshire as alternatives to Berkshire.

Of these 87 men, 26 state that it is their intention to maintain themselves wholly by farming a small holding.

Replies to the question as to capital available have seldom been filled in and only 16 have stated that they have sufficient or partly sufficient capital for the amount of land required, while no definite amounts have been stated with the exception of three cases.

Another circular is being sent out with a view to ascertaining more definite information both as regards the extent of land required and the amount of capital available.

Berkshire County Council minutes, 18 January 1919 (C/CL/C1/1/22)

Land for ex-service men

Berkshire County Council’s Smallholdings and Allotments Committee investigated whether ex-soldiers might take up farming in the area.

12 October 1918

Provision of land for ex-service men
A circular letter, dated the 16 September 1918, has been received from the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, calling attention to the provisions of the Small Holdings Colonies (Amendment) Act, 1918, the object of which is to provide land for ex-service men. The Board suggest – among other things – that a preliminary inquiry be made amongst the soldiers working on farms in the county as to whether they are desirous of adopting agriculture in the County of Berks or elsewhere as a means of livelihood after the war.

This suggestion has been adopted in order that the Committee may ascertain the demand for land in the County.

Report of BCC Smallholdings and Allotments Committee, 12 October 1918 (C/CL1/21)

Consolidation of the floating debt will become urgently necessary when peace has been concluded

Local government finances were set to be strained for years to come, thanks to the war.

CONVERSION OF PASTURE

The Committee have received notification from the Berks War Agricultural Executive Committee that certain of the Council’s pasture lands in the parishes of Stanford-in-the-Vale, Charney and Cholsey, scheduled for conversion, have now been transferred to category 4; the field at East Hanney has been placed in category 3.

LOANS

A letter has been received from the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, on the subject of loans, stating that the board has been informed by the Treasury that the provision of capital from Government funds is likely to be impracticable both during the war and for some time after the conclusion of peace, and that any new issue of Local Loans Stock while war-borrowing is still going on or during the period of consolidation of the floating debt, which will become urgently necessary when peace has been concluded, must be regarded as out of the question.


Report of Smallholdings and Allotments Committee to Berkshire County Council, 27 April 1918 (C/CL/C1/1/21)

Meeting the needs of sailors and soldiers on demobilisation

The County Council – like many others across the country – was giving some thought to what the country could offer the men who had served the country once they had returned home for good. Offering land to set up as small farmers was one proposal.

LOANS

A letter has been received from the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries stating that the President has been in communication with the Treasury with a view to securing some relaxation of the existing restrictions on the issue of loans from the Local Loans Fund to County Councils … in view of a strong desire on the part of many County Councils to prepare schemes for providing holdings for meeting the needs of sailors and soldiers on demobilisation…

CONVERSION OF PASTURE

Applications have been received from the Berks War Agricultural Committee for the Council’s consent as owners to certain pasture land being converted to arable.

Berkshire County Council: Smallholdings and Allotments Committee report, 3 October 1917 (C/CL/C1/1/20)

The use of the Wash Common Recreation Ground as allotments

Newbury Borough Council was prepared to hand over a local recreation ground for vegetable growing.

Tuesday, January 16th, 1917

Cultivation of land for food production

A communication was received from the Newbury District Gardeners Mutual Improvement Association, urging the importance of utilising available land for food production purposes. The Committee desire it to be known that they would be prepared to entertain applications for the use of the Wash Common Recreation Ground as allotments, at a nominal rent, the applicants being responsible for the clearing and preparing of the ground.

Cultivation of Lands Order, 1916

A circular letter was laid before the Committee from the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries relative to the Regulation made by Order in Council under the Defence of the Realm Consolidation Act, 1914, with the object of increasing the food supplies of the country by extending the existing powers of providing land for cultivation.

By an Order made by the Board in pursuance of this Regulation, allotment authorities in urban areas are empowered to exercise on behalf of the Board the powers conferred by the Regulation, viz the taking possession of (1) unoccupied land, without the necessity of obtaining any consents; (2) occupied land, by agreement with the owner and occupier, and (3) common land, with the consent of the Board. The Board out that in exercising the powers conferred by the Order, Councils will be acting on behalf of the Board, and that no charge will fall on the local rates. The Committee considered the desirability of utilising the powers thus conferred upon the Council, and, while it would seem that the terms of the Board’s letter preclude the use of such a site as Northcroft, the Committee feel that the owner of the vacant land on the eastern side of Rockingham Road might be approached with a view to the acquiring of a portion of such land, should a demand exist for additional land for cultivation as allotments.

Distribution of Seed Potatoes

A letter from the Agricultural Organiser for Berkshire was received, asking the Council to appoint a local correspondent for the carrying out in the Borough of the scheme for the distribution of seed potatoes, as supplied through the Board of Agriculture. In view of the early date by which returns have to be presented as to any quantity of potatoes it may be desired to acquire on the special terms offered by the scheme, the Town Clerk was directed to pass on the communications which had been received to the Newbury and District Gardeners’ Mutual Improvement Association, with a suggestion that they should utilise the scheme in accordance with any local needs of which they may have knowledge.

Newbury Borough Council: Estates, Markets and Bye-laws Committee minutes (N/AC1/2/8)

Emergency arrangements for schools

Berkshire Education Committee received the reports of several of its sub-committees on 15 January, and heard how the war was affecting schools.

Higher Education Sub-committee

SECONDARY SCHOOLS: ENLISTMENT OF ASSISTANT MASTERS
The one remaining Assistant Master at the Wallingford County Grammar School has been attested and placed in Army Reserve B. At the Windsor County Boys’ School, Mr F Morrow has left to join HM Army, and Mr Hawtin has been attested under the Group System.

MAIDENHEAD TECHNCIAL INSTITUTE
A letter was received from the Board of Education on 4th January inclosing a letter from the Army Council stating that “the premises in question are required in connexion with a Voluntary Hospital, the administrators of which will be responsible for the payment of the necessary expenses”.

The Board expressed the hope that the premises would be made available accordingly.

This requisition was considered on 8 January and the following resolution was passed:

The Higher Education Sub-committee hereby authorises and directs the Governors of the Maidenhead Technical Institute to carry on the work of the Institute elsewhere and to hand the building over to the Maidenhead Branch of the Red Cross Society without delay.

TRAINING OF WOMEN: CLERICAL AND COMMERCIAL EMPLOYMENT
The Sub-committee have considered the letter from the Home Office (referred to the Committee by the County Council) with reference to the suggestions of the Clerical and Commercial Employment Committee.
The Sub-committee recommend that the demand for such classes in the larger centres of population in the county be ascertained by advertisement; and that if sufficient names be obtained classes be formed provided that it is possible to secure qualified teachers and that the classes can be self-supporting.

School Management Sub-committee

TEACHING STAFF
In addition to the 44 teachers who have already enlisted, 27 teachers have been attested and placed in Army Reserve B. Only three teachers are affected by the calling up of Groups 2 to 9.

AMALGAMATION OF SCHOOLS DURING THE PERIOD OF THE WAR
The Managers of the Thatcham CE Schools will not consent to the Committee’s suggestion that the Infants’ School should be closed, and that both Mixed and Infants should be taken in the Mixed School.
The Managers of Cookham Dean Schools have accepted a proposal for the temporary amalgamation of their two departments under the Headmistress of the Junior Mixed School and the consent of the Board of Education has been obtained on the understanding that the matter will be subject to reconsideration should the arrangement be found to be unsatisfactory in practice.

EMERGENCY ARRANGEMENTS FOR STAFFING
The Board of Education have announced that, in view of the enlistment in response to His Majesty’s appeal of a further number of teachers, the Board rely on Local Education Authorities, after consulting HM Inspector, to make the best arrangements possible for maintaining the schools at a satisfactory level of efficiency. If this is done, they will exercise a wide discretion in the payment of grants. The Board hope that authorities will do all they can to provide temporary substitutes for assistants who have joined the forces. They will, however, expect every effort to be made to provide a properly qualified Head Teacher in each school; but may, in exceptional cases, e.g. small or remote schools, agree to recognise a teacher not fully qualified.

These departures must be regarded as for the period of the war only.

SCHOOL SUPPLIES
A letter has been received from the Educational Supply Association stating that, owing to the very considerably increased cost of articles, they must take advantage of the force majeure clause of their contract. A letter has also been received from Messrs Charles & Son (Kindergarten Materials) asking for an increase of 12 ½ per cent on their contract prices.

By-laws and Attendance Sub-committee

MORTIMER ST JOHN’S SCHOOL
The Sub-committee have considered a suggestion from the School management Sub-committee that this school might be closed for the period of the war. The Managers have agreed to offer no opposition to the proposal… The children would attend St Mary’s Infants’ School.

Agricultural Instruction Committee report [also to the Education Committee]

TRAINING OF WOMEN
The Committee have received a recommendation from the Berkshire War Agricultural Committee that a grant not exceeding £50 be made to the Berkshire Committee on Women and Farm Labour for the training of women in farm work.

A communication has also been received from the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries calling attention to the importance of training women for work on the land, and inviting the co-operation of the Committee in providing such instruction as is required.

It is according recommended that a sum not exceeding £50 be granted to the Berkshire Committee on Women and Farm Labour during the current financial year for the purposes of training women on the lines set out for the organisation by the circular letter of the Board of Agriculture of 29 November, 1915, and for the organisation by that Committee of meetings, where desirable, with the object of forming a register of women capable of undertaking some agricultural work and of farmers willing to employ them.

Reports to Berkshire Education Committee (C/CL/C1/1/19)

Setting up a War Agricultural Committee for the county

Food shortages were a real concern during the war, as German attacks on neutral ships impeded imports. At its meeting on 16 October 1915, Berkshire County Council decided to set up a War Agricultural Committee.

FOOD PRODUCTION
WAR AGRICULTURAL COMMITTEE
A letter, dated 18 September, 1915, addressed to the Chairman of the Council by the President of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, forwarding a Scheme for the appointment of a War Agricultural Committee and district sub-committees, was considered.
The principal functions of the Committees will be to organise the supply of agricultural labour; to consider the maintenance of, and if possible, the increase in, the production of food; to obtain information as to the requirements and supply available of agricultural implements and fertilisers and feeding stuffs; and generally to assist and advise landowners, farmers, and labourers.

Proposed by the Chairman, seconded by Lord G M Pratt, and resolved: That the following, being representative of landowners, farmers, agricultural societies and institutions, labour and other persons, be appointed a War Agricultural Committee for the County of Berks in accordance with, and for the purposes enumerated in, the circular dated 18 September, 1915, from the Board of Agriculture; with power to add to their number:

F Anstey
F Bate
J H Benyon
W Brewer
William Cordell
F J K Cross
R Crow
P E Crutchley
Miss G Elliot
C A Ferard
J A Fereman
Aaron Frogley
E Gardner, MP
H Goddard
B C Heath
W J Henman
T Latham
A W Lawrence
Local Manager, Labour Exchange
Capt. F C Loder Symonds
Job Lousley
W A Mount, MP
W Pennington
Miss G Pott
A Robinson
T Rose
Frank Saunders
W Anker Simmons
T Skurray
G F Slade
F A Smith
Harry Wilson Sowdon
E M Sturges
T S Tayler
Rev F W Thoyts
W Weall
H W Weaving
H G Willink

Proposed by the Chairman, seconded by Mr Bate, and resolved:

That the Clerk of the Council be nominated, and authorised to act, as Clerk to the War Agricultural Committee for the County of Berks; and that such other members of the administrative staff of the Council, as may be available and required, be allowed to assist such Committee.

That the War Agricultural Committee be allowed the use of County Buildings and equipment free of cost.

Provided that the above authorisations are given on condition that the arrangements do not interfere with the ordinary work of the Council or their Committees.

BCC minutes (C/CL/C1/1/18)

An experiment training women in light farmwork

Reading University pioneered the recruitment of women to work on farms, as the County Council’s Agricultural Organiser reported. However, he was unconvinced by proposals to settle Belgian refugees on a lavishly stocked smallholding.


ANALYSES MADE BY THE COLLEGE
On account of the members of the staff of the analytical department of the Faculty being absent on military duty, the College had had unfortunately to temporarily close this branch of the work….

WOMEN AND FARM WORK
The members of the Berkshire Agricultural Instruction Committee will be pleased to hear that an effort is being made by University College to assist the farmer in the difficulty of the scarcity of labour by training women in milking and other light farm work, and drafting them out to different farms. This work was started purely from an experimental standpoint. So far the venture has been justified, and to such an extent that the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries are taking a lively interest in it. Should the demand for the services of women for farm work increase it might become necessary to extend the facilities for training them, and it would appear that it is at this stage that the Berkshire Agricultural Instruction Committee could co-operate in the scheme, should such necessity arise…

BELGIAN REFUGEE COMMITTEE
I interviewed Sir Richard Paget, the Chairman of the above Committee, together with Monsieur de Meyer, the Belgian Agronome, in regard to the utilisation of families of refugees for the purpose of demonstrating Belgian intensive methods in this country. In brief I was informed that there were very few agricultural refugees in England, and the Committee desired to place no less than 15 families in one colony. This of course, apart from other considerations, is impossible on account of the necessary housing accommodation not being available. To satisfy the conditions laid down by the Refugee Committee in regard to even one family would seem to be too big an undertaking financially for the Berkshire Agricultural Instruction Committee. Should such a demonstration holding be attempted, it would be necessary to set aside approximately 8 acres of land equipped with suitable buildings for family and stock, livestock and implements. Manure and seed, and a subsistence allowance for the holder’s family would need to provided during the first year. Moreover, a portion of the land would be set aside for market garden purposes and would need to be equipped with suitable frames and steam pipes. In so far as one can judge at the present stage, heavy expenditure would appear to be necessary, and even supposing that such expenditure would rank for Government grant on the usual basis, it is doubtful whether the finances of the Berkshire Agricultural Instruction Committee alone, without other assistance, would permit of the suggestions as set out in Sir Richard Paget’s circular letter being adopted…

G S Bedford
Agricultural Organiser for Berkshire
University College, Reading
1st April 1915

Report of the Agricultural Organiser to BCC’s Agricultural Instruction Committee (C/CL/C1/1/18)