There were no reaping machines in those days, the corn all having to be cut by the scythe At the conclusion of the harvest they would have what they called a gleaners’ frolic. The allotment movement forms an evolutionary link in the history of agriculture. Originally enabling people to grow their own food, especially in urban areas, they also played a vital role in food production in wartime.
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Norfolk Allotments – the plot so far published by the Norfolk Recorders is a fascinating account of the social history of allotment provision nationally, with special reference to Norfolk, including thirty case studies. Walberswick windmill in the 1920s. Oral history collections such as Suffolk Voices provide first hand descriptions of the experiences of people in many trades and occupations, including farming. The job of a miller is one of those strongly associated with agriculture.
Mills have been an integral part of the landscape for hundreds of years, and were still playing a major role in industry into the late nineteenth century. In recent years our region has seen the growth of wind turbines used for generating electricity, particularly around the coast. Still controversial, many supporters see them as a variation on a traditional sight. Some working mills still remain, while others have found new uses as tourist attractions, museums, heritage sites or holiday accommodation. A few worth visiting are described below: The town of Bourn in south Cambridgeshire is home to Britain’s oldest surviving post mill dating from the early seventeenth century. Townsford mill in Halstead in Essex is a three-storey white weatherboard watermill built in the 1700s. It formed part of the infrastructure of the Courtauld textiles company founded by Huguenot refugees.
The site has now been converted into an antique and heritage centre with shops and restaurants. Thorrington tide mill at the mouth of Alresford creek was built in the early nineteenth century. It is the only remaining tide mill in Essex, and one of very few surviving anywhere in East Anglia. Fully restored, the wheel can be run for guided groups. The famous tower windmill at Thaxted was built in 1804 and remained in working order until 1907. Now restored, it contains a rural life museum Thaxted is also famous for morris dancing, one of England’s oldest traditional folk dance forms. It was revived here in 1911 by the vicar’s wife, Miriam Noel, and an annual gathering of dancers from all over England is held every spring.
The windmill at Stansted Mountfitchet was built in 1797 and is one of the best preserved tower mills in the country. Upminster smock mill was built in 1803 and retains much of its original equipment including grinding stones. Among the many Norfolk mills worth visiting is the windmill at Great Bircham Dating from 1846 it has been fully restored and is open to the public. The post mill at Saxtead Green, Suffolk, is one of the finest windmills remaining in England. Still in working order, it continued in commercial use until 1947. Pakenham is the only village in England to still have both a windmill and watermill in working order. The Herringfleet wind pump dates from 1820 and is the last survivor of the old-style Broadland wind-pumps, with cloth-spread sails and a boat-shaped cap, turned manually by a tailpole and winch.
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