Grove Farm

By Sue Miller

Photo:Sale particulars for Grove Farm, July 1900

Sale particulars for Grove Farm, July 1900

  Grove Farm, 'a compact, medium-sized freehold farm of 194 acres, with beds of capital brick earth and coprolite', was advertised for sale by auction in July 1900 on behalf of the executors of the late Mr J. Pearce. The farm itself was at the corner of Town Green Road and Hurdleditch, opposite what is now the school playing field. Further details are here. Apparently not even its additional commercial potential could help it reach its reserve price at that time of general economic depression, as ten years later the Pearce executors were still having to let the farm.  The tenant in 1910 was Samuel Welch, but either he or his successor, George Welch, eventually bought the farm and later sold it during the Second World War to Fred Miller, a member of a long-established Orwell farming family.

Fred Miller's main occupation was engineering, but he had established a fruit growing business known as White Arch Fruit Farm seven years before buying the Grove.  (White Arch occupied land on the north side of Cambridge Road.)  In 1941 Grove Farm totalled 283 acres, including the White Arch orchards and 38 acres rented from the local vicar.  The farm included some very small allotments set out by the 1836 Enclosure Act and rented from the school trustees and parish clerk. These were difficult to access and cultivate, even with the simple machinery in use in the 1940s, and the boundary hedges have all been removed now.

In 1941 138 acres of Grove Farm were sown with cereals and 51 planted with fruit.  Some cattle were kept and there were four working horses on the farm at that time, backed up by two Fordson tractors and an 'Auto Culto', and Fred Miller's brother Cyril managed the farm for him.

Photo:The extent of Grove Farm and White Arch fruit farm (coloured brown) in 1941

The extent of Grove Farm and White Arch fruit farm (coloured brown) in 1941

Cereals were the main crop on the farm in the 1950s, but potatoes and brussels sprouts were also grown, much to the approval of the farm workers, who were paid extra for planting and harvesting them.  Most of the potato picking and the harvesting of soft fruit, apples, pears and plums at White Arch was done by local women.  The sprouts were collected by a dealer from Essex, or were sent by rail from nearby Shepreth station to the London markets, as was the fruit.
Photo:Grove Farm yard about 1950

Grove Farm yard about 1950

Fred Miller's son succeeded him in 1955 and managed the White Arch enterprise with his cousin Alan Miller of Manor Farm. 

Photo:Grove Farm about 1965

Grove Farm about 1965

Fruit growing ceased at White Arch in the 1970s and, although Trevor's son took over the arable cultivation at Grove Farm in the 1980s, he retired early from farming in 1995.  The farm yard was sold for residential development and the land was bought by a farmer who operates from a neighbouring parish.

This page was added by Sue Miller on 05/03/2013.

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