Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Farming around Eton Wick - Bob Tarrant's memories

Robert Valentine Tarrant, known as Bob Tarrant, was born at Crown Farm, Eton Wick, on 18 August 1911. His niece Monica has recorded some of his memories of farming life in and around the village.



Bob Tarrant was the youngest child of George and Lillian Tarrant (nee Hobbs) and he had two older brother - George born 1908, and Reginald born 1910. Bob Tarrant went to Eton Wick infant school where he remained until 1918; he then went to Eton Porney school and left in 1926. He used to go out on the milk cart to help deliver milk before going to school which started at 9.00 a.m.



Tarrant family photo

The family moved from Crown farm in March 1922 to Manor farm. Between the two farms there were 30 milking cows, and ten shire horses, five of which were bred on the farm - they were Nelson, Anne, Captain, Babs, Rodney, Tulip, Dumpling, Violet, Prince and Bob.

Tarrant Family members in the garden of Saddocks farm house, around 1900.
In those days the winters were very severe with hard frosts, snow and floods. It was often said that the winter of 1894 had been very bad. The Eton Wick Road was often impassable from either snowdrifts or flooding and the road across the Slads was like a weir at times. There was a row of iron posts across the area at that time, although most of them have disappeared. Iron platforms were put over the posts and planks laid on top of them. The top holes had handrails attached and it was a very scary experience to walk across. The last time this bridge was erected was in 1947. Before then it was quite a frequent occurrence for it to flood. When the floods were bad the only way to deliver the milk and other goods to Eton College and Eton High Street was by boat. Sometimes the boat would only just go under the railway arches.

In 1947 the winter was very severe and the river Thames rose very quickly and everyone was taken by surprise. Crown farm was badly affected with water reaching up the fourth stair in the house. Many pigs were drowned and some of the cows were seen floating off down the Thames.

Crown farm, Saddocks farm and Manor farm were all worked by Bob Tarrant’s grandfather, James Tarrant. James Tarrant started at Crown Farm around 1870, Saddocks farm in 1894 and Manor farm in 1902.

There were several smaller farms in the area: Messrs. Nottage and Ashman at Dairy farm (later H Morris), Jack Langridge at Thatch Cottage and H Bunce at Common farm, HJK Martin then W Bootey at Jersey farm, and A Borrett at Alderney farm - this farm was named after the breed of cows he kept. Henry Powell fell on hard times and worked for Bob Tarrant’s father George Tarrant. He upheld the Lammas Rights and every year he would take a farm horse around to various areas, staying at each location for about half an hour to keep the rights open.




Crown Farm House
There was also an isolation hospital in Eton Wick that could be approached from Bell farm near Saddocks farm, it was mainly used for scarlet fever patients.








Crown farm house 


Common and Lammas
The land around Eton and Eton Wick was all Lammas grounds, common fields and commons. Householders or cottages with rights were allowed to turn out no more than two head of cattle.

The Rules for the Great and Little Commons
No cattle shall be turned out upon the two commons before 6 o'clock on the evening of May 1st or after August 1st.

Lammas Grounds and Common Fields
The same rules but between August 1st and October 31st each year.

N.B. Bob Tarrant married May Peck. The Peck family had a farm called Marsh Lane Dairies, Marsh Lane near Dorney Reach. This farm was run May’s parents George and Nellie Peck then passed to May’s brother Jack Peck.

This article is from the script of a talk presented at a history group meeting by Monica Peck daughter of Jack Peck. 27/6/2008

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