Spring West Farm

By Sue Miller

Photo:Spring West Farm (shaded yellow) 1941

Spring West Farm (shaded yellow) 1941

S. Miller

West Farm House, at the Barrington end of Orwell High Street, is all that remains of Spring West Farm, once part of Orwell manor. Most of its 397 acres lay in Barrington, but its substantial farm buildings and farm house were situated just inside Orwell parish, at the east end of our village but to the west of Barrington, the home of Orwell's Lords of the Manor for much of the 19th and early 20th centuries.This may explain its rather confusing name. 

 A terrible fire destroyed many of the farm buildings in 1822

Many of the thatched 18th century farm buildings here were destroyed or damaged in a terrible fire in 1822, but a contemporary surveyor's report by Cockett & Nash of Royston reveals that around the farmyard there were waggon sheds, a wheat barn, a barley barn, a granary, pigsties, stables, a dovehouse and hen houses.

In 1921 three smallholdings were created from West Farm land

Charles Banks farmed here for the first two decades of the 20th century, but in 1921 Cambridgeshire County Council Smallholdings Committee compulsorily hired 225.08 acres of the farm under the Land Settlement Act to create three smallholdings for ex-servicemen.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Spring West Farm' page

Banks may have found the reduced acreage too small for profitable farming, and by 1922 the tenancy had been taken by Frank Peters, a relative of the Peters family of Manor Farm. Frank soon took up another trade and his entire farming stock and implements, including six working horses, cattle, hens, six farm carts, ploughs, horse hoes and a binder, were sold in October 1926. Alfred Arnold, of J. Arnold & Sons, became the new tenant.

J.Arnold & Sons - model farmers

The Arnold family weathered the remaining years of depressed farming prices and survived to enjoy the increased prosperity of the two decades following World War II.  In 1941 they were cultivating 150 acres, 66 of which were devoted to fodder crops to support their twelve cattle, nine pigs and five working horses. 

Corn was still cut with a binder and built into stacks by Albert Arnold until he died in 1963

The Arnolds were model farmers, according to Alan Neaves who worked for them from 1955 to 1964. They maintained their premises and all their equipment in perfect order and wasted nothing. This careful management paid off as they were able to buy the farm from their landlord in 1955. but they were old fashioned in their ways.  John Arnold would not allow his sons to have a tractor on the farm during his lifetime, (he died in 1943,) and only one had been acquired by 1957. Corn was still cut with a binder and built into stacks by Albert Arnold until he died in 1963. Following Albert's death all the farm's animals were sold, as livestock were labour intensive and no one wanted the job.

The younger Arnold brother died in 1968 and there were no children to carry on this farm which had never seen the adoption of modern machinery and farming methods, but had provided a comfortable living for its thrifty owners.  The Rugby Cement Company bought the land for its chalk deposits, but sold off the house and the farm buildings which were converted to residential use.

This page was added by Sue Miller on 30/12/2012.

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