Meldreth Orchards in the 1940s

Photo:Fruit Pickers on Chiswick Farm in the 1940s.  From L to R: Sylvia Gipson, Mrs Plumb, Sarah Harper, Mrs Jacklin, Muriel Gipson, Gladys Clarke and Mrs Colbert

Fruit Pickers on Chiswick Farm in the 1940s. From L to R: Sylvia Gipson, Mrs Plumb, Sarah Harper, Mrs Jacklin, Muriel Gipson, Gladys Clarke and Mrs Colbert

Terry Dash

Photo:Chiswick Farm Cottages in the 1940s.  Home to Joyce Howard and the other Land Army girls

Chiswick Farm Cottages in the 1940s. Home to Joyce Howard and the other Land Army girls

Ann Handscombe

By Joan Gane

From recorded memories of Joyce Howard, April 2009

Joyce Howard came from Manchester to work on the land with the Land Army in 1941. She was sent to work at Chiswick Farm, Meldreth fruit picking. There were cottages in Chiswick End allocated for living quarters for the Land Army girls. The cottages had no bathroom or kitchen. They were able to bathe and eat  in Chiswick Farm House.

Joyce supervised 12 women in her team of fruit pickers. The fruit pickers were on piecework at that time. The work was seasonal and some of the women were from the village. The men did any heavy work. They continued working on the orchards pruning etc in the winter. The women did not have any orchard work after October. Some of the women pickers were Mrs Harper from Whitecroft Road, Mrs Jacklin from West Way, Mrs Plumb and Mrs Gladys Clarke.

The types of fruit were plums and apples in Chiswick End and cherries along Whitecroft Road where Elbourn’s Cam Valley Orchards' shop is now. The cherries were on tall trees and the men had to help using long ladders because of the height of the trees. Often only 12lbs would be picked in a day due to the difficulty of the job. Some pickers went over to Mettle Hill and picked Morello cherries. They were small and bitter and sold well. As the bushes were small they were picked with scissors. Others picked gooseberries also on Mettle Hill.

Joyce was involved in weighing the fruit up, laying it down and responsible for the picker’s wages. The names of some of the men employed were full/part time workers, Ern Dash, Reg Chapman, Harry Jude, Dan Webb, Vic Hale, Peter and Walter Jacklin. Amos Blows looked after the animals on Chiswick Farm.

After the war Joyce returned home to Manchester. She missed Meldreth and the friends she made and returned, eventually marrying orchard land owner Andrew Howard. She lived the rest of her life, until 2010, in their home called Hewitts, Chiswick End.

This page was added by Joan Gane on 27/03/2011.

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