STEAM in ENGLAND


| November/December 1962



H. Epton & sons

87 key Marenghi Organ (Fairground). Owned by H. Epton, New Boiling broke, Lincolnshire, England.

8 Hamilton Road Lincoln, England

I have been very interested in the copies of the Iron-Men Album magazine, which Alfred Norbury has been good enough to enable you to send them to me.

Some of the articles written by old steam enthusiasts of happenings many years ago have amused me very much. It has made really excellent reading.

I myself can well remember some amusing events which occurred in our village of Bassingham near Lincoln over 60 years ago.

There was a farmer named Sam Martin, and in those days a great deal of the harvest was cut in the fields by hand, using a scythe. Every summer hundreds of Irishmen used to come over to England to help with the harvest. I have seen several of these men, each with a scythe in his hands, in a large field, making sweeping strokes with this queer looking tool in a wonderful easy rhythm like manner. It would break peoples hearts as well as their backs to attempt such 'labor' today. These Irishmen would mow all day as long as there were a few pints of beer available. After cutting the corn down, it had to be turned over with a fork for several days to let the sun and air dry the corn straw. Then bundles were made and tied up. This tying business was really a clever piece of work. A number of strands of straw were twisted up to form a band of straw-like cable, which was used for the tying. I cannot describe accurately, how it was done or how the 'cable' was knotted or fastened round the bundle, which was called a sheaf. These sheaves were then stood up, and stacked together in fours or sixes in the field, where they were again left a few days for final drying. Later on, horses and wagons would go into the fields and collect up the sheaves and transport them to. the farmyard. Here they were piled up to make a stack, and left there for several months. Sam Martin did so, and would start threshing in the winter time.

As a boy I used to go into his stack yard with other boys at threshing time. I loved to see the steam engine working, and then at lunch time it would blow its whistle to notify the men that the machine was about to stop. The aroma all around was quite appetizing and had the scent of the harvest field again.