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Manual Recollecting the Forties

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My oldest sister was at once sent of to the village shope for a pound of salt pork ; with that and some boiled potatoes we regaled ourselves, and peace and happiness reigned in the household. With the winter intervening my fathers wage, than 9s. How to exist and keep honist was the mistrey that confrunted my parents; final result, it could not be done.

My father, therefor, like otheres in the same perdicament. But our condition up to this time was louxerous compared to what we suffered in the winter of and '55, whenbread j'ose to fatgine prices.

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I supose for fear the whole villagers died from starvation, the Esq. With the close of the Rusain War wages droped back to IS. So to give the land a change he decided to plant it with parsnips, intending to sell the parsnips and buy potatoes with the money. Poor man! After the harvest of my father obtained work at the gravel pits, riddeling stones for the roads. The working of this gravel was let by the Esq. With this prospect in view we entered the winter of 1 with bright prospects, till one Saturday night, just into the new year, when my father handed mother his week's wages he told her there was no more work at the gravel pits, as Bobey the Esq.

This news brought consternation into our littel camp, for this arbitary conduct on the part of the Esq. Of cours my father had to suffer with the reste. He now tramped from farm to farm, but no wort "could be obtafted. Maddend by his non-sucess, he arrived home one evening and declared he would take us all to the workhouse.

This declaration raised my mother's temper, and she said ' Never! In vain he pleaded with her, and, young as I was, I put in my word, and said 'Mother, Bill Capp said he got plenty of bread when he was in ; let us go! My grandfather, who through old age and infirmity was receveing four shillings a week from a friendly society, said ' No,' we should not go to the worElToiKe ; we should share with him.

My father, dis- pareing of perswading my mother to take us to the workhouse, declared he would run away and leave us, as he could not stop and hear us crying for bread ; and, poor fellow! In conclusion, sir, I can safely say idureing the first 18 years of my life my belley had not been properly filled 18 time since I was weaned from my mother's breast. Scores and scores of times have I sat under the hedghrows and cried, and told God how good I would be if He only sent me bread. I had not then learned that God only help those 1 who help themselves. Perhaps some will 1 think my case was an exceptionaly one.

Chamberland to vote for Protection, to such I would say let their reply be ' Let us have all commodities free from taxes, biU protect the people' — I am, sir, yours respectfully, "Edward Cook. At grandfather's death. Uncle John took it, and died there. About that time Esqr. The farm had been in family years.

About the tythe was assessed at 7s. So much for the Tythe Commutation Act, which was simply a parsons' Act. About I was engaged on surveys of parishes in Mid-Suffolk for tythe commutation, and bread was is. I told them the parson could get from the men or their wives the quantity of corn they grew, and the papers would give them the price, and they would lay a balance-sheet before them, with labour a small Item. If not, they would have to pay three times more tythe than before, and the landlord, seeing this, would want more rent, but they would not hearken. There would be these two to contend with, and the third would come if the labourers got a litde education.

They would tell you they could get more wages anywhere than you was paying them, and your answer must be, ' The parson have emptied one pocket and the land- lord the other, and left nothing for you, so you must go, and half the land will go out of cultivation. Affleck said : ' All us masters will be ruined. They are going to take the duty off wool, which sells at 2s. Look at the price of mutton ; and if these poor men could get to work and had money, mutton would be 6d. It would be a great boon to the distressed manufacturers and their men.

That in the days of Protection it was terrible is a fact of which these interviews give ample evidence. The first is with Mr. Harry Banham, of Caston, described as ''a typical son of the soil. He was then an agri- cultural labourer. His wife had seven chil- dren. He left the land to work in the mill. Banham, " I never knew the colour of money.

I worked in the mill, and was allowed a certain amount of flour each month in lieu of wages, and even then I did not get enough flour to meet the wants of my hungry family. I got into debt with the miller, but when my children grew up we were able to pay him everything. My wife, in spite of her big family, was forced to work in order to get a few of the necessities of life.

Two or three times a week she used to fetch coal from Attleborough in a litde donkey-cart, and by this means earned 4s. Flour was 3s. We worked night and day just for existence. We de- i pended upon harvest for rent money, and my 'husband has worked from the first break of day until dark mowing hay. Then we women used to sow the corn, but it was dreadfully hard work pegging away all day with bended backs. I would rather stand at the wash-tub all day long than do that work again. It was terrible.

As the children -grew up the burden lightened, and food began to get cheaper, the price of flour was reduced, and we began to get along better. If they raise the price of food again the larger labouring class families cannot possibly be properly fed. Where there are larger families now it takes them all their time.

The old folks nowadays don't know what we old folks had to go through when we "were young. You couldn't tell a farmer of those days from a labourer of to-day, although he got a bigger price for his wheat.


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I can remember when flour was 4s. I have known times when I have scarcely dared to pick up a loaf of bread for fear of cutting it up too quickly. Men used to wait until night to go and steal turnips with which to feed their children. But we never could do that. Life was a fearful thing in" those days — we never knew what pleasure was then! Fisher, of Scoulton, an old lady of eighty-eight years, but of remarkably alert in- telligence, said to the interviewers : " I remem- ber the time when labourers only got 9s. I have heard my mother say that at one time, when pork was iis.

Labouring men could only get half an ounce of tea a week then, now they buy at least a quarter of a pound. Why talk about those days being better that these? Don't tell me about them! They were terrible. George Mimms, a Guardian, of Walton. He is in his eighty-sixth year. As a little farmer my father was hard up — immensely so in bringing up such a large family. Without a mite of butter for the barley cake. As to the poor men, they were poor indeed. I remember my father, with his little farm, was so troubled about his men, who had nothing to do, that he used to have acres of land dug by the spade to find work for the men.

Shiploads of men were sent to America because there was nothing for them to do in rural England. Two of my brothers went to America because my father did not know what to do with them. The labourer's life was cruel. They were little more than serfs. A single labourer got is. Flour was 2s. They were tremendous days. There were very, very poor people then. I have known men by chance get a litde piece of bacon, and that was all. There is a tremendous difference between the scanty spread of the labourer's table in my boyhood and the provisions in a labourer's home to-day.

Everything was dear when I was young. Walton then possessed about two little shops, now it is a thriving little commercial town with excel- lent shops, and it served the same district then as it does now. Our workhouses then were gross. I have been a guardian for upwards of thirty years, and I know the poor people are provided for a thousand times better now than they were in the dark days. In the old times I have known a red herring to be divided amongst three persons, who thought it was a lucky thing to get that.

Mark Moore, of Great Cremingham, a man apparently of eighty years of age, affirmed that : '' The labouring classes did not live in those days — theirs was only a bare existence. Of course bread was. The staple food of the people was rye bread. Sometimes that was none too good, especially after a wet harvest. I have known rye bread to be so doughy that the knife with which it was cut had to be cleaned at each slice taken.

Sometimes it was so bad that they had to make little cakes of it. In this village the labouring classes half lived on swedes. The children used to have swedes for break- fast They were really half-starved in the days of Protection. The people wore the coarsest of clothing made of strong materials. The women were very smart if they had an orange and blue cotton dress. That would not suit the young people now. The people did not really know anything about tea then — tea-drinking was out of the question. It was too dear.

Sugar was 8d. It is the duty of those of my generation to tell the present generation that during the days of Protection the country suffered terribly, and destitution was rife among the poor. Not even at the bidding of Mr. Chamberlain must we submit again to the taxation of the staple foods of the people. John Wilkins, of Northwold, gave an inte- resting account of their early struggles. The husband said : ''I only earned 6s. That was in the days of dear food. I worked for 7s. He would eat bread and onions, and not make a word over it.

I have known him take out bread in the morning and bring it home again at night so that his fellow-work- men should not see he was unable to get any. My children I have had to put supperless to bed many and many a time. We could not get enough food. They were dreadful times. I cannot tell you how we clothed our children. Now the young people dress like ladies. In the old days farmers went to church in ' slops. A little child now knows as much as we old folks. We had no schooling. We have had experience, though, and may God never permit them to go through the same.

If you cut the crust off and threw the remainder at the wall it would stick there. Then we used to have sharps, which seemed to burn inside after we had eaten it. It was awful stuff. The pigs have it now. It is a shame to think of taxing the poor man's bread. Let him have a bellyful of bread, if nothing else. There were no drawing-rooms and no finery at farmhouses then.

Mr, and Mrs. I owned up afterwards, and had to suffer for it He gave me three days' holiday. I can remember when my wife bought half a pound of bacon and made dumplings for the children, and rather than they should not have all, she has gone without. The people were half starved then. He had seen a halfpenny herring divided between four persons! Many state that bread and jmions was their most ordinary dinner.

Married men got IS. I got married on a Sunday so I should not lose any time, but when I went to work next morning my master said he didn't want me ; as a matter of fact he didn't want to give me the is. He afterwards took me on again. It was impossible to have a doctor ; I had no money to pay him ; we absolutely had to depend on parish relief when illness came. I can remember before I was married flour was 4s.

What did we eat with our bread? Why, sometimes an onion, sometimes none. What was the reason why they would not employ the men, do you ask? Why, because the rent of the land was so high. The price of fairly good soil in the old days was jC2 an acre to the farmer, and then he had to pay the tithe and rates and taxes, and find the labour and horses and implements. They got an extra price for their corn, but I reckon they were far worse off than they are now.

But I must tell you this story ; it is true. A woman bought a pound of pork, out of which she made fourteen flour-and-water dumplings on consecutive days, and served two slices for Sunday dinner. She was indeed a clever woman! It was something even to get the flavour of sausage in those days. We never had jam, and we used to look upon rice as a luxury. Eggs were cheaper then.

Coal was gd. We used oat flights for beds. We used blankets when we were fortunate enough to get them given us by the parish. We could have wished for more evidence as to the condition of the people in the hop-country when David Copperfield trudged through it to Dover ; but Kent says little. Perhaps in the immediate neighbourhood of the London labour market things may have been slighdy better than in most parts of the county. But, if better, they can have been only slighdy so: for even in London wages were low, and it was even less easy to find turnips and other substitutes for bread than farther afield.

Wiltshire does not of course belong to this chapter, but we have kept this particular letter among the others containing Hampshire evidence. Born in the year , in a country village in Essex, put to work at the age of 9 years — many of the children of the village at work before that — for the pay is.

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Bread, is. Labourers' wages, from 9s. Well, there was families had but little besides a piece of bread ; at night their supper a few hot potatoes, little salt, and bread. Perhaps they might manage to get one pound of pork for the week. That was a treat. Most of the women went into the fields to work in the summer for the sum of 8d. They were glad for the little boys and girls,. A good domestic servant's wages, five or six pounds per year, was considered very high.

I hope never to see Protection again. It is difficult now to make the young people understand it — if it comes they will be worse oft than the older generations. The present generation cannot manage as the former one. Every word I have written, sir, is true. The prices he gives doubtless refer to that year, and those of the bad harvests immediately following. We do not know in what district Mr.

Jordan was living at the time of which he writes, but we include his letter here as he confirms " L. Bread was thought cheap at gd. The misery of those time I remember most keenly, and do hope the people of these times will not return to them ; for my firm conviction is, that after so glad a time of Free Trade, a return would cause national trouble — the change would cause such discontent — the people having tasted the sweets, which was not the case formerly.

In reference to ordinary living, groceries of all kinds were double the price than at the present time. I had a young family, and had to pay i id. From the time that Free Trade was established, the price of all necessary things came down, making a way for poor people to have many things which previously it was not possible for them to procure. Jam, for instance, owing to the dearness of sugar, was an impossible luxury, being sold in very small gally-pots at sixpence each. All these miseries for the toilers have now become so different that to go back to the former state of things must bring them to extreme poverty.

Asking you to pardon this intrusion on your time, and to put the mistakes made in this communication to my nearly 88 years of age. In con- sequence the corn was all sprouting, and there- fore unfit for food of man, only cattle ; but we had not then obtained the blessings of a cheap loaf, the labours of Bright, Cobden, and other friends of the people not having at that time been brought to bear on the question of Free Trade. In the autumn of year named the said growing corn, when ground in flour, was purchased by myself and also brother at two ' Presumably Mrs. Buckland means the average wage of working men now.

This price worked out at one shilling per quartern loaf oh the good old times of Protection! I well remember the starvation of those times. Puddings when made with this growing corn flour, when cooked, fell into a mass on the dish, really uneatable. The bread came from the oven in flat cakes.

Upon keeping one day, a slice when cut, if pulled apart, was as though cob- webby, the colour then black, and it stank. Now such bread would be condemned as unfit for food ; then, there was no remedy, that or none. To make matters worse, the potato crop was a failure. Meat, as a rule, obtainable in small doses ; butcher's meat once a week.

Of course at that time there was no importa- tion of meat from any quarter, either the alive or frozen, therefore then the masses of poor people in this country were in a bad, desperate, and starving condition. Sugar, best Demerara, now 2id. Innumerable other things might be quoted, but space fails. All this goes to show that the purchasing power of money is greatly increased, the food obtainable for same money being double to three times. The cottages and homes of the people have also greatly im- proved from the same causes.

And now, after experiencing these advantages all these years, is the valuable education we have gained in these matters to be thrown away upon the advice of an unstable man, who has dangled great prizes before our eyes in the past and failed, and would again if he is entrusted with the chance? We have, however, several very interesting letters from Hampshire. It is said that " Nothing that cannot walk should leave a Hampshire farm. Pasture land was, no doubt, forced into corn bearing, and thus a double violence would be done to nature.

We may presume that the land would not yield the same amount of pro- duce obtained in counties better suited to wheat, the farmers would be worse off, and the labourers probably even worse paid. My earliest impression of the unfortunate conditions of the farm labourers commenced about the year , during which the agricultural riots occurred. RICK-BURNING The people, resenting the introduction of thrashing machines as likely to reduce their already scanty wages, commenced a raid, and smashed as many implements as they could lay their hands on.

The long passage to Australia, and the treat- ment afterwards, where little or no supervision was possible, awaited the poor wretches. Of such things the men of to-day have no con- ception. Wages to the ordinary labourer ranging from 7s. All this time every article of food and clothing was far above the prices of to-day. The wages were even a little below Hampshire, and the limited purchases of the country people astonished me, and their abject complaining was distressing to a degree.

Women employed in rough field work, such as weeding or pulling turnips, earned 6d. At piece work the men did a little better. The price paid per acre was, as seen to-day, absurd, and, in fact, many of your readers would not believe it possible for body and soul to be kept together on such a scale. The girls made excellent domestic servants, and many farmer's wives took pains to instruct them for situations, where higher wages were obtainable. The village school teaching in those days was rudimentary and of short duration. Some abused their power, which was almost absolute ; and when a farm was carried on on strictly commercial principles, devoid of any old associations, the law of supply and demand was terribly hard on Hodge.

There was no dry foreign, wheat to fall back upon, and we had to put up with our own. Sifted barley meal made into bannocks fell to the lot of many extremely poor with large families. Of course potatoes were largely consumed until the disease appeared among them. Batches of men, women, and children wandered south in hopeless destitution, and, to use the words of an Oldham manufacturer, 'utter starvation prevailed.

I was born on this island in the year , and can well remember. Well, them ricks stood there until the outer ears of the rick grew green all round. Then there was a fall in corn, when we got the Free Trade, and it fell, and then the farmer threshed his corn out, and tried to sell it. Some he took to market, and sold at about half the same sum. Some he brought back again, could not sell it for a long time.

I can re- member bread was 2s. I know my father used to get a sack of wheat from the farmer, and take it to the mill, and get it ground, and we would bring it home just as it was, without any dressing what- ever. Mother used to sieve it, and take out just the roughest of the bran, and then she would bake it for us. Of course we had an oven to bake our own bread, and the wages was low.

There was 9 of us in family, and father and mother. As I said, I was born in '34, and one brother older than me, so we were all youngs It was hard times. Some poor I knew was glad to get what they termed 'sharps,' and make bread of it. I can vouch for the truth of that, as one of the girls is now my wife, so we both know the pinch of that time ; but we have now been married 42 years, and still in good health, thank God ; but I should not like to see such times again as that was. I do not know how much he earned in the shape of wages at that time. He gave the weaving up some three years after I was born, and then went to work in the bleaching department, and his wages was 9s.

There was four children, and he paid is. I reckolected mother getting once a pound of bacon for dinner on Sunday; but a pound divided amongst six was not much ; and for dinner on week-days at times was potatoes with one pennyworth of suet fried, and the fat poured over the potatoes after being mashed. My mother often cried to think that all she could get for my father s dinner was a penny bloater, and had to work 1 2 hours a day, and, of course, the children's dinner was only potatoes and salt.

But for the whole of the time wee did not have half enough to eat. If you think, sir, that this will help on the cause of Free Trade and free food, publish it by all means. By so doing you will greatly oblige. Thomas Barker, Roseleigh, Littlehamp- ton, Sussex, writes : — " I was born in June, , in the county of Bucks, so I am nearing the 70th mile-stone in the journey of life. I was one of several children born to my parents within ten years, my father being a shoemaker.

I cannot quote market prices for wheat, but I can remember well enough when the quartern loaf for some considerable time was is. At that time we children had two, by no means thick, slices of bread and lard — it wouldn't run to butter; and no matter how keen our appetites these two slices had to suffice. Yet with this economical, sparing arrangement, the bread and flour bill for the week totalled up to close upon los. In this way the avarice of the rick owner was righteously, as I think, requited.


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  4. In cases, of which there were many, where the labourer's family was numerous, his wages didn't more than cover his bread and flour bills; and it goes without saying almost, that in very many instances much of the bread and flour had of the bakers was never paid for, and no wonder. Now that no such thing is possible except to great speculators like Mr.

    Leiter, this form of social friction is, happily, absent. Were the bread tax reinsti- tuted the occasion, and with it the hatred, would certainly revive. Protection is not only the cause of poverty, it is also a force making for social disintegration. Swede turnips, with a small piece of bread handed to each round the table, oftentimes constituting the dinner. How could it be otherwise? Perhaps a labourer, his wife, and several children had to subsist on seven or eight shillings a week.

    Whistling at Sixty : Bashers and the forties | Bulldogz Comment & Culture|English

    Joseph Chamberlain, of Birmingham, and his Tariff Commissioners, with well-filled purses, wish to bring us back to. Brown sugar was 7id. Meat, poultry, butter, and cheese were never tasted more than once. Poor people were glad of the tea-leaves from the houses of the rich, and it was thought a great privilege to be the lucky ones to get them. I am almost ashamed to tell you what these poor creatures had to eat. I remember after the repeal of the Corn Laws, when bread was 8d. The great trouble with them was, they were never satisfied. The largest consumers began to import wheat, and have continued to do so at a much cheaper price than we can produce it.

    I think it will be a great shame to put a tax on the poor man's principal food. If the farmers and the masses had not been neglected by the richest country in the world, but had had the advantages of other poorer countries in education, they would not be in the state they are to-day. I well remember when my father was paying 50s. Wheat was then 50s. The wages were very low, the working man only getting 8s. It was out of the question. We children did most of the work on the farm, so were indulged with a taste of roast beef about once a month, on a Sunday, on which day we had a cup of tea.

    Other days we had broth and skim milk. When I read that Mr. Chamberlain's scheme was going to give more employment and more wages, it made me think of the days before we got the greatest blessing this country ever enjoyed — Free Trade. I ask what benefit would a two or four shilling per quarter tax on corn benefit a farmer?

    I say none at all. Even a dairy farmer would have to pay much more for grains and everything else which he requires for the farm and his own household. The land they are paying 20s. A lot of the land in Sussex is not worth more than 5s. Paying this last- named rent, he could afford to buy a bit of dung from London and elsewhere. That is what the average farmer cannot do, because he is compelled to sell what he ought to consume. What for? Why, to get the rent and taxes ready.

    I have two or three brothers farming now under Lord Boyne ; the land is let according to the value of it — from 5s. Her father and mother, she said, brought up ten children. They all lived in a tiny cottage on a common. In this there was only one bedroom! The father worked on a farm near, earning 7s.

    Bacon, however, was Of course the rise in the price of butter and bacon is not the result of Free Trade ; but of the facility with which produce can now be transmitted to the large cities and towns, where higher prices can be demanded. With the advance of the locomotive the rise must have come, whether Free Trade or Pro- tection predominated. Therefore the labourer would have been even more destitute under continued Protection.

    There was not much they could choose from. These crocks, which cost from 8d. Beef and mutton they were unable to purchase ; but on Sundays, perhaps, the father and mother would have a rasher or two of bacon, whilst the children looked on BARLEY-CAKE TEA i6i with longing eyes and whispered to each other for they would not have dared to ask or make a complaint aloud; parents, even in cottages, were sterner in those stern times that when they 'grew up' they also would have their rasher!

    But when they were men and women the time produced John Bright, and they fed on richer food than rashers. A little piece of barley-cake was put before the fire till it was baked black ; this was then crumbled and added to the scanty tea-pot — result, more tea! The children had some. Indeed, an elderly grocer told me that at one time the letters of the town were delivered by a post-woman who could not read!

    He used to take his own, and tell her which were for the next house. The authorities made a subscription, and with it bought sacks of dried peas ; these were served out by the pint to the people, and on these they subsisted. And he has seen the men on his father's farm, when they fed the pigs with barley-meal, take a little of the meal aside and, mixing it thicker, eat it to stay their hunger! Chamberlain advocates a second Protection period, and promises the working man, as a result, a fat pig!

    The country must look at facts, not words. Twenty years ago, when the village was much smaller, all worked on the land. Now there is a flourishing trade, and the agri- cultural labourer is a rara avis. A field of twenty acres, let out in allotments, forms part of the glebe. I am going to tell the story of one of my tenants, an old man of 73, who farms about four acres of the said field, and brings his rent to me regularly at the end of the half year, Just fifty years ago my hero. When the family got up in the morning there was nothing in the house but a crust of bread, and the bread-winner out of work.

    He started off early to look for work, and walked all day. He was not successful. I think I shall die. The child eat the bread, and my wife and I we drank the water. When it had gone some time, I said to myself, "This won't do, I must pay up. We were just going to put in the wheat, and one day I put in ten acres of wheat I thought I should have fallen on the ground. The time came round for putting in the barley. I said, " Send me about a couple of pounds," and he'd send in four.

    And there's many as do the same to-day if you let 'em. I did have a bit of meat once. One day my master sent me to the next village to fetch his children back from school — they were put out for their schooling, and I was sent to meet 'em and fetch 'em home. And that night, when I came in, my master gave me a bit of supper, and I had a bit of meat with it. Sargeaunt's predecessor. The old man is still living, or was last February.

    Thomson, Round Hill Lodge, Hens- tridge, Blandford, Dorset, writes: — " I have been thinking, as you suggested the other day in Reynolds's, that we old men owe a duty to the younger generation, who know nothing about the old Protection days, and that we should let them know what we toilers had to endure during that period. I can speak from my own experience, having lived the first twenty years of my life when we had Protec- tion, and when it was a hard struggle for the poor to live at all. I well remember when I and my brothers and sisters had often to go to bed at night without any supper, and be con- tented by thinking, and sometimes dreaming, that we may be able to get a small bit of barley-cake in the morning for our breakfast.

    I was born at Stourton Caundle, a small village in North Dorset, in My father was an agricultural laborer, and he worked on i68 THE HUNGRY FORTIES one farm for more than thirty years, and was considered by his master to be a good work- man, as he could turn his hand to any kind of work that was required to be done on the farm ; and his pay was only seven shillings a week, and there were himself, our mother, and six children to live.

    All kinds of food was then very dear. It was barley-cake and potatoes from day to day, and not enough of that ; and, as for bread, we scarcely ever saw any, and meat was far beyond our reach. Moist sugar was 6d. Bread was sold at from gd. Clothing was also very dear. There was no day-school in the parish, and not six agricul- tural labourers in the village who could read or write, where the population was about 4CX. So they must now be on their guard and only vote for Free Traders. In the course of business she was expected to take from farmers, who were her customers, corn, which she would have ground at the town mills, and make her home-made bread.

    I shall never forget a year, about sixty years ago, when, in consequence of a wet harvest, the wheat was grown out, and when made into bread it would stick to our teeth, or could be stretched out like putty. I related this 20 years ago at a public meeting in Axminster, when a man in the audience stood up and said, 'That had been his experience many times, and, what is more, we had to steal the swedes to have them or nothing.

    The writer of it is Mr. Jacob, of North View, Warminster. Perhaps nowhere do we get a more realistic view of the times than in this letter : — " I perceive you are about to publish a book respecting the bad old times of Protection. I was born in Frankfort Street, Plymouth, in When I was five years of age I had the typhoid fever. When I recovered the doctor ordered change of air. My parents took me to my uncle's, J. At six years of age I was sent into the fields with the aprentice boys and girls of about the same age, to keep pigs, clean turnips, drive oxen and horses at plough, and various other field work.

    Sometimes the horses went away with heavy loads of corn and long distances, then we were called up at two or three o'clock to bring back the extra horse that helped the load a few miles over the hills. We had many bitter winters during the nine years I was with my uncle, and I have often been nearly frozen as well as the other poor little mortles.

    We had to force on our hard, hob-nailed boots weighing from three to four pounds over feet swolen with chilblains, and 'kebe heles,' that is, with a hole in them, with running matter. One winter my left foot was frost-bitten. She used to lash us with her riding-whip for the least thing, and when my uncle came in she would not let him rest until he had thrashed us well We used to have bread and skim milk for breakfast, and skimed milk cheese, like leather.

    Our farm was about five hundred acres. We worked 35 horses and 24 bullocks, the farm being three parts tilege. In winter they put any amount of sacks under the quilt. They were not allowed any light to dress or undress. They had a rushlight to attend to the cattle. They had to strike a light with flint and steel. Our bread was mildued one half the time, for we baked only once in three weeks in summer, and every five weeks in winter. Then we boys had to scrape away the snow with our hands to pull the turnips, and wash them at the trough out of doors, as well as the potatoes, when the water would freaze ; then peal the potatoes in an open shed, and grate them to make starch.

    If we had anything rusty to polish, such as bits and stirips, we put them in the tub where the new cider was made, for a few hours, then you could wipe off all the rust with your fingers and thumb. If at any time we wanted to black our boots, we weted the brush, and rubed it over the side of the great boiler the pork was boiled in, so the fat and sute did for blacking. If they had a waistcoat it was generally made of lambskin or moleskin.

    They used to preserve the skins of moles. They caught a lot of them. Some of them wore long smock frocks, others any old coat they could pick up, cord trousers or briches, with yam stockings, boots that weiyed from 6 to 7 lbs. Very seldom any of them had any other clothing to ware to church, where they where bound to attend or stand the conse- quence. The farm-hands had to sit in an end galerey in church, and the man that had charge of them was armed with a long goard, such as we used to drive the bullocks at plough, and every now and then you would here the sound throughout the church of the strokes of the rod on some of their backs ; and if they rebeled they were put in the stocks just outside the church door for every one to gear at as they left the church.

    He would sit on an old table and stick from morning till night for 6d. The sadler would come also for the same pay. There was no time for piano-playing in those days. The women had to milk the cows, feed the pigs, poultry, calves, and healp in the fields. They used to commence washing every Monday at 2 a. My great-aunt would get up and work with them all the day till late at night, and row them all the time.

    There was no soap powder or anything to make the work easey in those days, no coper, all the water had to be made boil over a wood fire on the harth. We never had a bit of coles in the house the nine years I was there. We had to go about one mile to post a letter. The mail-coach passed Watenew, a village between Wiveliscome and Bampton. We handed the goard to the gard while the horses galloped on. If we expected a letter we had to go to Wivelis- come to fetch it, full three miles. There being a large amount of tilleg on our farm, and all the work had to be done by hand, even the thrashing the corn.

    We had about 30 men at work that lived out of the house. They worked from daylight until dark in the winter, and from 6 a. In harvest time they often worked 18 hours, but then they had supper, for which we provided by killing any animal that was unsaleable, such as an old boar or ram, or a bullock to save its life, to keep it from dieing. Only two or three of them could read or write. How could they learn? The National school was 5 miles from our farm, that was Milverton ; and if it had been nearer the parents could not afford to send them. Our labourers brought their breakfasts with them, which consisted, as a rule, of a piece of corse bread — you would call it black — and a bunch of garlic or some onions.

    Their wives I might well call them their slaves , or their children in fact, they were all slaves, and mostly brutes as well brought their dinners, which generally consisted of mashed potatoes and turnips, with a scrap of ' must ' to moisten it. Fortunately there was no potato disease. The turnips they drew principally from our fields. The wheate they bought was tailings, with all the seeds and grit in it ; that they took to the mill and had it ground fine, so as to use the whole of it in their bread. No wonder it was black, and in bad harvests it was milekey, so that you could eat with a spoon.

    One in particular. It rained every day, more or less, for six weeks during harvest time. We had acres in corn that year. We saved one field of wheat, 4 acres, which was very earley. All the rest of the corn grew out, so that was impossible to make bread of it ; so we bought some French barley, and that, when made into bread, was so gritte we did not know how to eat it. The distress that year was fearful. What our labourers had for supper was a conglomeration of vegetables stued.

    You may well suppose they stole whatever they could lay their hands on, and no wonder! They were like hungery wolves. Con- tinually we had sheep stolen. One December we had 21 fat turkeys stolen that we had been feeding for Tiverton Xmas market Fowels we had to put under lock and key. A coper they used to boil barley in for the horses was taken out to be repaired Before it could be put in again it was stolen. As for clothing, it was scarcely enough for desensey. The poor women! Can you believe it? I have known them confined one day, wash their clothes the next, the third day put the baby in an old box or basket, and take it with them into the fields to wead com or pick stones, for which they received 6d.

    Nation had a wife an4 7 children, all sons. They had a stone-floored kitchen, and one small bedroom. After struggling on in misery, some friends helped them to eme- grate and they all did well. This man was duble as well off as most of the others ; for he had is. He was in the battle of Waterloo. Roseter, wife and 3 children, sleeping in a downstair room, with a stone floor, a guttar of water running through the room. He had charge of our ferets and rat terriers.

    They were in the same room. He had a few fowels which roosted in the same. These he had stolen from some one, but was not trased. Sayer and his wife lived over a tuckin mill. He was just married and lived with his father and mother and two grown-up daughters in two rooms. The daughters were prostitutes. Jewel had a bed-riden wife. They lived and slept in one room. He was better off than many, for he was a marine and had a pension of lod. He should have had is. Sayer was a very clever man. He went to Australia in '48 with my help, and made enough at the digins to retier.

    Nothing of the kind. My uncle failed, as nearly half the farmers in the county at that time, owing to the high rent and bad harvests. His wife and only daughter died early and left him depen- dent upon relatives. If he had not taken that farm he had capital sufficient to keep himself and family in comfort His three sons went to Australia and are weathy men.

    This miller went to that mill in with 7s. He left about 12 years after with thousands, although he rarely came from market sober. If the wretches are able to put the duty on corn now what will be the consequence. Nothing less than 12s. You may think the miller named above would be generous to those he employed. Not a bit of it When I went with him at 1 5, he dis- charged a man and I took his place, and I and another apprentice ran the mill day and night for months together.

    That will show if men give better wages when they are making large profits. From there I went to St. Austell, in Cornwall ; there I was when the bread riots brok out. After the destruction of a lot of property the soldiers arrived. Then they took 17 of the ringleaders and sent them to Bodmin, only for trying to get bread. The writer, Mr. John Gill, of Penrhyn, Cornwall, is almost the oldest of all our correspondents.

    I am well qualified to do so, being over 92 years of age, and I have a keen memory of passing events from child- hood to the present time.

    Mat Page Festival Of The Forties 1940s Re-enactors Part 3

    I recollect events that transpired when very young, including the tolling of the church bell at the death of Princess Charlotte in 18 17, before the late Queen's parents were married. Every article that could be named for the use of man being taxed, their food, their clothing, their furniture, their mode of travelling, and many other habits and customs were totally different to those of the present time. The wages of agricultural labourers were from is. Their food consisted principally of barley bread ; and, in Cornwall, of potatoes and pilchards, and they had barely sufficient of these.

    Broadcloth was rarely to be seen on a working man's back. A letter from London cost a shilling, taking three days to bring it. Women servants wore bed-gowns of the most ugly kind. This state of things did not apply to the rich and well-to-do, who could then ride in their carriages, and fare sumptuously, as they can now. It was the labouring classes who suffered by Protection, and it will bring certain ruin to them if they are so ignorant and foolish in their own interests to allow it to be introduced again.

    I well remember the years of 1 , when the country was in a ferment, and on the verge of a civil war on the question of Catholic Emancipation, and on the Reform Bill before it passed in Then followed the great agitation on the Com Laws, in which Villiers, Cobden and Bright were three of the most prominent pleaders, in which I took a great interest. In the years 1 I was appointed to the office of overseer in this town. Sir Robert PeeFs Government was formed to protect them ; but the Irish famine intervened and broke them down. The trade of the country then began to improve in all directions, and it would have done so much faster had it not been for the guilty promoters of the Crimean War, which was a curse to the country.

    I have written this letter by feeling my way, and I can just dimly see to read what I have written. Richard Robbins, of Upper Holloway. It was, therefore, a favourable specimen of a country place, and yet when William Cobbett visited it at the time I was four years old — and my recollections begin in that year, 1, when George IV.

    We are being told that if Protection is brought back to us wages will rise and the working man be better off- What was the case in my young days? I will tell the working men of to-day, and let them judge for themselves, pledging myself not to make a single statement I cannot vouch for as having seen for myself the facts. The custom when I was a boy was for able-bodied men to attend a vestry or parish meeting, and their services to be put up to the biggest bidder among the farmers present. Sometimes the price bid was no more than lod. What was the result? The men, who would have been free and independent under a better system, were compelled to be paupers.

    Tm sending you a few lines as I know to be true. I seen Lord Rosbery's letter in the paper. That started me writing. I sent the like of this to 4 different papers. Seventy-two years ago, when I went to school at Upton-on-Sevem, I knew several children who did not go home to dinner because they could not have any ; and when I began housekeeping, that was over fifty years ago, then bread was 5 lbs.

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    Working people could have nothing better than prints for the women, men codorroy and smock-frocks. As for meat, working people did not get a bit once a month. I'm a shoe- maker. I work for myself now. We believe in Free Trade. We don't want any Protection. Probably the district suffered as severely as any, and far more than some ; but that hardly accounts for the specially graphic character of the writing. West Country people must have long memories, and may, we may safely say, be trusted to remain staunch Free Traders till long after the last "protected" generation Has passed away.

    The immense power which the helplessness of the people placed in the hands of their employers is well illustrated in the writer's account of his treatment as a child. He is Mr. After his aprenticeship he went to work in the stone quarreys. In due time he got maryed, and there was a family of 3 children. I was the second, and had 2 sisters.

    Poor mother died when I was between 2 and 3. My eldest sister went to work in the factory very early. I soon had to follow, I think about 9 years of age. What with hunger and hard usage I bitterly got it burned into me — I believe it will stay while life shall last. We had to be up at 5 in the morning to get to factory, ready to begin work at 6, then work while 8, when we stopped i an hour for breakfast, then work to 12 noon; for dinner we had i hour, then work while 4.

    Recollecting the Forties

    We then had J an hour for tee, and tee if anything was left, then com- menced work again on to 8. If any time during the day had been lost, we had to work while 9 o'clock, and so on every night till it was all made up. Then we went to what was called home. I used to curs the road we walked on. I was so weekley and feeble I used to think it was the road would not let me go along with the others. Production had officially begun - at a promising rate of 10, barrels per day.

    Kinneil Gas Separation Plant, Grangemouth November Technician showing the first oil delivery from Forties at the Kinneil gas separation plant adjacent to the Grangemouth refinery. And it was a glut; once all four drilling platforms were operational, the well system had a production capacity of around , barrels per day.

    After the installation of the Forties water injection system in , it quickly achieved a design injection capacity of , barrels of water per day. Far right: Press clippings from Aberdeen Journals describing the giant oil find. In the early days, BP were cautious about what was put out to the press. Guys played pool in the evenings, everyone got on. Also the wells were all free flowing, so there was a lot of spare time for being sociable.

    Offshore Food and Onshore Family Offshore life in the s was very different from today. With no TVs in the cabins, workers socialised in the common rooms or spent their evenings in the cinema. Many of the workers had relocated to Aberdeen as a condition of employment, often leaving wives and young families behind. Although there was little news to send back in return, some of the oilmen had plenty to say about the food.

    My favourite was pork medallions cooked in Marsala wine, with a scraping of truffle across the top. A food critic once came out to the field and claimed the food was equivalent to that of a Michelin star restaurant. Each section took three days to dry and some of the more fragile parts had to be made over and over again.

    The working platform featured many intricate details from tiny oil drums to a helicopter on the landing pad. Centre: The galley on board crane barge Thor. Below: Preparing the menu on Forties Delta. Production Peaks at the Top of the Chart In , oil production from the Forties field peaked at , barrels per day, well above early predictions. She was on board Forties Delta and was tremendously impressed by the installation. Accompanied by BP Chairman, Sir David Steele, during her two-hour tour she met the oil workers and asked them about offshore life.

    On her departure she was presented with a Forties field scarf and a tie for husband Denis. He was on board Forties Delta accompanied by his wife, Audrey, where he spent four hours touring the working areas and chatting with the crew. At lunchtime he sat down with three of the oilmen to a meal of melon, fillet steak and peaches with cream. The Prince had personally requested the visit to see how technology had advanced since his first visit to the oilfield in The technician went off to assist the Delta crew with the helicopter duties and when the next helicopter landed, his brother disembarked from it.

    His surprised reaction was caught on camera and the story was played out in the TV studio. They performed their No. She had been due to fly out directly from Balmoral Castle where the Royal Family had been taking their annual summer break, but low cloud had forced a change and she was flown out from Aberdeen Airport instead. The day before, there were all these security guys coming out, special branch and police. I was on the deck crew, so once the helicopter arrived, it would be my duty to go to the cargo door, open it and jump inside to get all the bags.

    So, I opened the door Nobody told me there were dogs coming! The next day, she arrived on a Wessex helicopter. We were to check-in at the heliport at hours on a Friday morning and on arrival, we were taken to the cinema room, where we went through the safety induction and our agenda for the day. So we had an overnight stay and the guys were moved from their cabins to make room for all the ladies.

    That evening, the OIM arranged for us to play bingo - the offshore guys were more than happy to join us! Another colleague and I spent a lot of our time eating the wonderful food and buying perfume and chocolate from the duty-free shop. We all talked into the small hours of the night, unable to sleep with excitement and chatter about our day. By morning the fog had lifted, and it was time to fly back home.

    By the late 80s however, these visits had ceased due to tougher rules. Below: The scarf Geraldine was gifted during her visit. On arrival offshore, they would be met by their partner, shown around and treated to a nice meal. They were presented with a lovely scarf, which my wife still has, and would have photographs taken as mementos. It must have been quite a thought to go miles offshore in a helicopter, walking on the grid walkways and seeing the waves crashing directly beneath them.

    I was the Duty WinchMan during the Delta blowout. There was a Derrickman stuck on the derrick and the immediate task was to ensure he was lifted to safety. However, by the time we got there, the crane had swung the hook in and the Derrickman had jumped from the derrick, above the fire, onto the hook of the crane.


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    The crane driver was then able to rescue him that way. We were relaying information and guiding the monitors from the Iolair, trying to protect the derrick structure. Echo was originally designed and installed as an unmanned platform, relying on Forties Alpha for control.

    This process was completed in 13 days. The topside modules were then lifted into place; one comprising of. The jacket was constructed at. Everyone thinks his or her platform is the best But whenever you go on a course or you meet people from the other platforms, they are all just the same as you or me. Everyone gets on with each other. Festivities at Forties December Offshore life meant occasionally missing out on special anniversaries at home; birthdays, weddings and of course Christmas time.

    Forties Delta, Christmas The disaster left fellow oilmen deeply shocked and saddened. The Cullen Inquiry was set up in November to establish the cause of the disaster and made recommendations for changes to North Sea safety procedures. These recommendations ultimately led to the implementation of the Offshore Installations Safety Case Regulations in The UK North Sea industry required a tremendous amount of construction work to meet the regulations.

    Major investments were made in providing emergency shutdown valves to protect pipeline risers and a catalogue of additional engineering enhancements to platform protection systems were installed. Artificial lift was necessary for the well to continue flowing, so construction and commissioning of the Forties Artificial Lift Project FALP commenced in , with first gas introduced to Forties Alpha and Forties Delta at the end of The installation of gas lift facilities simultaneously on all four platforms was a huge undertaking, requiring careful planning to synchronise onshore and offshore activity.

    Drilling crews performed workovers on 47 production wells on Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta to convert them for gas lift service. This involved replacing the casing down to metres to allow the wells to contain highpressure gas. On Echo, electric submersible pumps were installed directly in the well, as no processed gas was available on the platform.

    The Forties field was far exceeding original expectations, and in May it reached a historic milestone: its 2 billionth barrel of oil. My supervisor, mike prendiville, watched in trepidation as my colleague, john jenkins and i who were Production Techs at the time, kicked-off the first well in Forties using gas lift! We narrowly beat Forties Alpha, who commenced the gas lift shortly afterwards. The new pipeline from Forties Charlie to Cruden Bay was 36 inch in diameter and increased capacity from , barrels per day to , barrels per day.

    The investment also paid for two extra onshore pumping stations, a supplementary oil stabilisation and processing train at Kinneil, an additional crude storage tank at Dalmeny and a further crude oil loading jetty at Hound Point. In , BP tied in the new Unity riser platform, which lies to the west of the other Forties platforms. Today, Forties Charlie and Unity still serve as the reception point for oil from other North Sea fields transported through the Forties Pipeline System.

    The programme began with 16 weeks at college onshore, followed by offshore mentoring for two years. To see a frigate stationed in the middle of the field, speedboats circling the platform and SBS personnel climbing up the platform legs was great. I was at a meeting when we heard a Chinook helicopter approaching. The meeting was quickly called to a halt and we all raced up to the top deck to watch this military Chinook, which was skimming along the sea, quickly rise up and hover above the helideck. Several kit bags were thrown onto the deck, followed by Special Forces personnel who spread themselves over the kit bags as the Chinook departed.

    Throughout that week there was a real buzz on the installation as we helped set up the exercise. We watched as the soldiers abseiled down the platform, defused mock bombs and generally did everything that we would love to have had a go at. The week culminated in an exercise where two RAF officers came on board to act as terrorists and the SBS had to retake the installation. We were all told that they were playing for real, so to stay out of their way. The exercise started with several Special Forces personnel jumping onto the helideck from a Chinook and disappearing into the installation, and ended with the RAF officers and a few of our own guys taken prisoner in the galley.

    That was a week I will never forget. When production began in , it was predicted that Forties would stop producing by the early s. By , it was expected to be shutdown for good by As the field and platforms aged,. The Forties field was seen as a status symbol sold off the old sports car they have been lovingly polishing for years, but has sat at the back of the In , the Forties field had 45 remaining producing wells estimated to contain million barrels of oil equivalent, after recovery of around 2.

    Naturally, this resulted in a lot of initial uncertainty amongst employees. Re-evaluation and Re-invigoration After the acquisition, Apache set out on an ambitious programme for Forties. It began with an intensive re-evaluation of the field, which revealed a further million barrels of oil-in-place: significantly higher than previous estimates.

    He was convinced that seismic technology would improve, identifying smaller targets, and that we could reduce drilling costs in order to drill them. As I started to work the geology and geophysics, I was sceptical. I could see around 10 promising locations but much of the target portfolio we had inherited from BP seemed quite high risk. I wondered how we would even get 20 wells drilled. A combination of 4D reservoir monitoring and new 3D seismic surveys, including the imaging of areas beneath existing platforms helped Apache in the placement of new wells, while safe drilling and completion programmes increased production and recovery.

    In , a fresh 3D seismic survey of the field was completed. After success with our early drilling results in , my confidence grew and I realised just how much remaining potential there was in the field. We were generating more targets each year than we were drilling. Apache drilled 12 new wells and performed platform repairs and maintenance in This increased the average daily production from the field to 61, barrels in the fourth quarter of , compared with 40, barrels during the same period in As the fiscal year drew to a close in , the Forties field accounted for 9.

    With the need to increase field efficiency, there was a requirement to replace the old turbine drives with new electric motors and therefore the existing power generation equipment was insufficient to meet the forecasted field power requirements. To cope with the increased power demands, the power generation project was initiated. This resulted in an electrical power ring main being laid around the field connecting all four of the main platforms together, and four new gas turbine generators installed: two each on Forties Alpha and Charlie.

    This new system allowed Apache to convert its power generation to gas, and increase its generating capacity to provide the power needed for the modern electrically driven pumps and cranes. It also reduced shutdowns, significantly increasing operational efficiency. Centre: New power turbine being lifted into the Forties Charlie generation module.

    This entire project was completed using a giant onshore type crawler crane mounted on a reinforced steel bed, without major disruption to platform production. Below: Installation of the upgraded gas compressor. Focus on Efficiency In and , Apache had completed the upgrades to the water-injection system and the Delta V control systems.

    Once commissioned, the project delivered arguably the single best improvement in operating efficiency for the field. This, and the Ring Main, have been gamechangers in the field from a project perspective. Apache drilled 12 new development wells in the field, which together initially produced 18, barrels per day. Apache was, indisputably, transforming the Forties field. Above left: In , Forties Alpha replaced a flare tip using a mobile tower crane. This approach avoided the significant extra costs associated with the industry accepted method of using a lifting barge.

    Other major projects Apache undertook over the following years included; highpressure gas-lift compression, replacement of flare tower platforms, installation of the Bacchus topsides and equipment and replacement of obsolete main oil line pumps and cranes. Installation of a new high-pressure gas lift system on the Charlie platform also started in In June , production from the Charlie well began, flowing at an initial rate of 10, barrels per day; the highest initial production rate from a Forties production well since Lying around 6.

    Bacchus Bundle Launch March Perfect weather conditions were critical for the launch from Wick in the far north of Scotland. Tugs would tow the bundle on a mile voyage taking 36 hours from the beach to Bacchus field. The 6. By the end of , the resolution was to integrate both studies into a functional specification for a new bridge-linked platform, FASP, which would be positioned next to Alpha. It was the first Central North Sea platform to be built at a single construction yard in the UK in more than 25 years and the world-class engineering project would generate over 2, new jobs.

    The topsides included facilities for full production, separation, dehydration, gas compression and power generation. On joining the ring main, FASP has provided an additional two turbine generators of power. It has a production capacity of 25, barrels per day and provides 18 new slots for drilling additional development wells to target the pockets of oil that were inaccessible from Forties Alpha.

    It had produced million barrels of oil equivalent, and its average daily production stood at 60, barrels per day. Importantly it is an illustration to other North Sea producers that the UK offers excellent quality and value. I had spent some time offshore earlier in my career, but never for a prolonged period and certainly not on a brand new platform.

    I assisted with the commissioning and start-up of FASP, ensuring smooth operation alongside the existing process. I had never been involved in commissioning until then and was completely new to the FASP project, so the learning curve was steep, but one that I thoroughly enjoyed over my two years there. I have been able to add valuable practical experience to my existing engineering knowledge and I learnt so much from the offshore teams. Initially, I was on the flotel in the field and then on Forties Charlie. It was a great experience on many levels and left a lasting impression.