History of Barnbow Part 8 Back to the Main Historical Society page

History of Barnbow Part 8

The Barwicker June 2003

In the years following World War 1 many of the landed gentry in Britain were forced by economic circumstances to sell their country estates. The Gascoigne family however hung onto their land until once again war was threatening. Then, what the sale catalogue described as 'Valuable Outlying Sections of Lotherton and Parlington estates situated at Saxton-cum-Scarthingwell, Sherburn-in-Elmet, Whinmoor (adjoining the Leeds City boundary), Scholes, Stanks, Leeds, Austhorpe, Garforth, Parlington and Sturton Grange, were put up for auction in 50 lots at Leeds City Museum, Park Row, on Wednesday June 1st. 1938. The total area was 3245 acres and comprised fifteen dairy, arable and stock raising farms, six small holdings, a residence, the Garforth Golf Links and numerous lots of arable and grass land, building land, allotments, accommodation land and cottages, and including sporting rights over the whole. The total annual rental was 3,314.16.6.

Lot 21 was 'UPPER BARNBOW FARM or BARNBOW HOUSE FARM' described as the 'Sound Milk Producing and Arable Farm' extending to 161 acres, 1 rood and 27 perches' readily accessible from Leeds and other centres. The details of the property are give as;
THE FARM HOUSE is attractive, built of brick with a slated roof and contains;
  • On the Ground Floor
    • Entrance Hall and Stairs,
    • Sitting Room,
    • very nice Drawing Room,
    • Back Passage,
    • Two Pantries,
    • Dining Room,
    • Kitchen with sink (c) and fixed cupboards.
  • Two Stairways lead to the First Floor with the following rooms:
    • Landing
    • Passage
    • Six Bedrooms
    • Outside adjoining the House are Coalplace, Wash-house, Stick place, also Earth Closet.
  • THE BUIDINGS which are in good condition are as follows;
  • Foldyard with very good Covered Fold with Five Bays with asbestos roof.
  • Stone-built Mistal for six and two-bay Implement Shed;
  • Stone-built seven fold Stable;
  • Substantial BARN with inset Calf Box and Loft over.
  • Mistal for sixteen built of brick with two-storey Turnip House and Granary and brick built modern Milk Room adjoining.
  • THE LAND is well farmed and lies within a Ring Fence. Included in this Lot is the Plantation known as The Springs. Water for the farm is obtained from the Windmill (standing in field no. 903) which is included in the Sale.
    No. on Plan  Cultivation  Area Acres  No. on Plan  Cultivation  Area Acres 
    875 pt.  Road  0.454  902  Grass  18.636 
    899 pt.  Road  0.676  865  Grass  0.469 
    156  Arable  12.598  866  Grass  2.066 
    867  House and
    0.889   868
    870  Arable  5.068   903  Grass  10.560 
    904   Part arable,
    part grass 
    8.787  905
    68  Arable  12.275  154  Quarry  1.102 
    157  Arable  14.912  153  Arable  11.726 
    152  Road   0.342   151  Plantation  8.258 
    Total 161.483 acres 

    All the land was in Barnbow in the parish of Barwick-in-Elmet, as shown on the plan below which has been reproduced from the catalogue. Items 875pt., 899pt. and 151 are said to be 'in hand'. Mrs Sarah Anne Nicholls was the tenant of the remaining plots, at a rent of 145 per annum.

    There were about equal acreages of arable and of grass land, in contrast to 1861 when there was only one third grass land. Perhaps the change reflected the greater importance of milk production on the farm.

    The following details of farming at Upper Barnbow Farm have been supplied by Arthur Nicholls, who was the Barwick maypole climber on seven occasions in the period 1960-1978 (see 'The Barwicker' No. 41). He was the grandson of Mrs Sarah Anne Nicholls and was born in the gamekeeper's cottage (now demolished) near the site of the old Barnbow Hall. He has farmed at Upper Barnbow for the whole of his working life.

    In 1935 at Upper Barnbow Farm, farming was still done with four horses. It was a milk farm of 144 acres, with maybe 50 acres of arable land. The crops grown were oats, barley, wheat, roots and kale, with hay from meadow land. The roots and kale were used for cattle feed, as were the hay, barley and oats, with the surplus sold for income.

    The wheat was harvested using a horse-drawn binder. The resulting sheaves were stood in 'stooks' for 'three Sundays' and then stacked. It was threshed when required to separate the grain from the straw. The wheat straw was used for bedding the cattle and the wheat grain sold for milling.

    A bull was kept and 22 cows which were milked by hand. The female calves were kept to maintain the milking herd and the bull calves fattened and sold for meat. The milk was sold from horse-drawn carts by two women on rounds in the Harehills district. Two men were employed on the farm with two casual seasonal workers.

    During the Second World War, one tractor was added. To feed Britain during the war, grassland was ploughed, including that at Upper Barnbow Farm, by the Ministry of Agriculture using modern tractors and implements from America. A CASE LA tractor was used at Barnbow. New tractors could not be obtained and it was 1947 before you could buy and then there was a waiting list.

    Threshing (thrashing) machines were used to thresh the grain and separate off the straw. Josh Armitage had a threshing machine and he pulled it round the farms with a steam engine. He lived and kept his machines at what is now Sirrells garage in Scholes. In about 1953, diesel tractors and combined harvesters became commonplace on farms making it easier to farm more land.

    In 1955/6 a scheme was begun at Upper Barnbow Farm to mine coal by the opencast method. Soil and rock were removed separately from 60 acres of land to make a working depth of 100ft. Working went on 24 hours a day, the digging being done with a machine that was built on the site (see photo). It had a large bucket and drag-line which was used to scoop up the soil, rock or coal. It could move along on two supports.

    "The "Big Digger" at Barnbow
    (photo supplied by Tony Kitchen)"

    The material scooped up was tipped into large dumper trucks called 'Euclids' to be transported to some other part of the site. Rock and then top-soil was tipped back after the coal was extracted from part of the site and the land restored for agricultural purposes.

    The coal sites were named Springs 1 and 2. Springs 1 lasted five years. Springs 2 went right to Long Lane at Barwick. Birdholme Farm on Springs 2 was demolished to make way for the open cast.

    A film made by the Ministry of Coal in 1973 shows the whole open cast process, illustrating the stages with the work at Temple Newsam and Upper Barnbow Farm.

    With the arrival of the opencast, Upper Barnbow Farm had to sell the milk cows because of the loss of land, but with better machinery and tractors it was possible to farm all the land as arable and sell the produce for income. The opencast destroyed two woods, the Springs and Barnbow plantations. The woods were re-instated at the side of Barnbow Lane.

    Today, Barnbow has 10 dwellings, including some built in the 20th. century and all in the Barnbow Carr / Taylor Lane area. No buildings now exist near the site of the old Hall, which for centuries was the nucleus of the settlement of Barnbow. I thank Ann and Arthur Nicholls for help with this article.

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