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West Berkshire's Honor Atkins lifetime in farming began with one cow

Born in 1919, she retired at 81 and witnessed large changes in farming methods

Trish Lee

Trish Lee

trish.lee@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886663

West Berkshire's Honor Atkins lifetime in farming began with one cow

Honor Atkins driving a horse and cart NEBYM:2015.60.58

Highlights of West Berkshire Museum Collection

Honor Atkins in the milking parlour NEBYM:2015.60.60

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HONOR Atkins started farming at 17 years old, at Ashtead Farm, Surrey, with just one cow.

During the Second World War she served in the Land Army. By 1943 she had a small herd of cows and increased her milk round, partly by milking her neighbour's herd as well as hers, all by hand. As petrol was rationed, she delivered the milk by horse and cart with her pony, Robin. In her early days at Hyde, farming involved the whole family, farm labourers and help from prisoners of war, as there was very little mechanisation and lots of heavy work.

The family moved to Hill Farm, Enborne, in 1956. She farmed Jersey cows together with pigs, Dorset Horn sheep, and
chickens. She witnessed large changes in farming methods and made changes in her own practice after careful
deliberation. However, she never changed her care of her animals into industrial-style farming. She took great pride in building up her herd of pedigree Jersey cows, all of whom had names. The Jersey cream she produced was separated with a hand turned ‘Lister’ cream separator, potted by hand and sold at the farm gate and on the local Women’s Institute stall.
The farm’s herdsman and right-hand man worked for Honor for more than 50 years, from 1946 to his death. Her sister Lois always provided back-up labour. There was usually also a second herdsman and other temporary labour including farm apprentices.

Honor was born in 1919 in Ashtead, Surrey, and lived there and then in Hampshire and Berkshire for the very nearly 95 years of her life. All her adult life was spent farming until she retired, aged 81.

A metal jug used at Hill Farm Enborne, used by Honor Atkins
as she farmed dairy cows to produce milk and cream NEBYM:2015.60.56

West Berkshire Museum holds many objects associated with Honor’s working life at Hill Farm, Enborne, includingphotographs,  farming equipment and produce packaging. A milking bucket used by Honor can currently be seen on display in the Place to Place exhibition.

Visit www.westberkshireheritage.org/west-berkshire-museum for information about visiting the museum.

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