The Farming Community of Watton

The Twenties

In the 1920’s village children would attend the local village schools, but would come to Watton School weekly for cookery classes for the girls, and woodwork classes for the boys. For the villages whose primary schools subsequently closed, the children of the farmers would have to go into Watton to receive their education.

Most of the farming was arable – wheat and barley, with mangolds, swedes, and turnips for stock feed; and sugar beet was introduced after the First World War. Every farm would have heavy horses to work the land, beef and dairy cattle and pigs. Sheep were kept on the sandier lands to the west of Watton. Many farmers kept chickens, which in the 1950’s would be put out on the corn stubbles, after harvest to ‘shack’ – to pick up the grain which was left behind after harvesting. The chickens were kept in wheeled huts, so they could be moved from field to field. As you can imagine, collecting eggs was quite a long job!

eggs in their nest
collecting the eggs

The farming community greatly looked forward each year to Wayland Show. There were show classes for all sorts of livestock, classes for vegetables and field grown crops, and for the women baking, jams and needlework. It was with great pride if you went home at the end of the day with a rosette and certificate for your exhibit. That evening, the fair always came to Watton, and the day always ended with rides on the swing-boats and roller-coasters, and your skills tested at hoopla and the coconut shy.

A ploughing scene
A ploughing scene

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