DATA BASE REF: A/F 1007
JIM AND PATSY WOOD AND STUART WOOD OF THE HOLLIES FARM CASTOR
Jim and Patsy Wood and Stuart Wood farm at The Hollies Farm Castor. The first member of Jim’s recent family to be in farming was his grandfather James? Wood, who started life as a stone-mason working on cathedrals and churches. He then bought a dairy farm at Blackborough, nr Cullompton Devon.
George Wood m Ann Mellish
d. age 53
George m Daisy Garrod Robert Roland
Arthur Don Dorothy Jean Hazel Jim m Patsy Geoff
(Toby) m. 27 Apr 1961
Vanessa Stewart Tim
at Hollies Fm
Tabatha Remi George Saffron Callum Ben
Farms Associated with the Woods:
James Wood bought Lower Bodmiskan Farm Blackborough. This is still farmed by the family, having gone down to Roland, then Geoff and now Tim still farms it as a dairy farm. His son Robert went to fight the Boers, retiring as a gold-miner, and Roland stayed on the farm.
George Wood, Jim’s father left school at 12, left Devon at 16, and went coal-mining at Tonypandy Wales. By the time he was 26 had qualified as a blaster and he had bought and paid for his own house. He married Daisy Garrod (who already had two children) and they took on hotels and pubs, starting with a pub in Tonypandy at which Tommy Farr, the boxer used to drink. Then they took on 2 or 3 pubs including the Greyhound at Presteigne. The last hotel was the Bell at Brackley, which he left in the 40s. His two older sons Toby and Don had joined the forces for the war.
He then became the tenant farmer of Welsh Lane Farm at Stowe. Jim born there and christened at Stowe School Chapel. Welsh Lane Farm was a dairy farm of about 100 acres with Friesians and Shorthorns.
George Wood then took on Manor Farm Yaxley, then owned by London Brick Co. Again this was a dairy farm with a horse and cart milk round in Yaxley, but with quite a bit of arable as well. They still used hoses for harrowing, carting water to the steam threshing machines etc. They had about 150 acres under the plough, in addition to the dairy. For this they used a 1930s henry Ford with a three-furrow “cockshot” plough.
Towards the end of the war, George left Yaxley for Brooke Farm Polebrooke, where he bought 120 acres. He sold the cows at Yaxley but kept sufficient to start milking at Polebrooke. While at Polebrooke, he took on a village lad to help, and then he also worked as a tool-maker at BTH, while still farming. BTH made aircraft spare parts during the war. Eventually this got too much; he kept farming until Toby and Don came out of the forces then he asked them: “Do you want to carry on, if so I’ll look for bigger for you?”
They did, so he bought Rough’s Farm Sawtry in 1946 ( later taken on by Tom Darby). In 1947 the farm was flooded from end-to-end, but the cattle survived on some high ground. This farm was still dairy, but mainly arable. George died in 1953 at Sawtry, leaving the farm to Toby, Don and Jim (age 16). Eventually they rented then bought the farm next door and farmed it as one up to the railway. They also went into contract work, combining, bailing and ditching for others. There were the three brothers, plus two men employed and casual labour at harvest running 5 combines.
They had their last working horse at Sawtry in 1947/48; one cob called Peggy to take the milk down to the A1 to be collected by the Co-op, and one heavy cart-horse called Bowler as they still used it to put in the sheaves. There were heavy weights to be carried; 18 stone of wheat, 16 stone of barley and 20 stone of beans at a time.
In 1963 Jim took on the Hollies Farm Castor (which his father had looked at and rejected years before), but still also farmed in partnership with his brothers until 1976 when Toby and Don retired and the farm at Sawtry sold to Tom Darby.
Jim now has 200 ewes, 12 head of suckling cattle, 300 lambs, the butcher’s shop in the village and also owns the Prince of Wales Feathers’ Castor. There never was a dairy at the Hollies in recent times.
The Hollies started under Jim with 250 acres of Milton land, all arable. Then Mrs Brown retired at Castor Mill and Jim took on her 146 acres of Milton land, including 60 acres of grass that went for sheep (Scotch Half Breed and Border Leicesters, good well-known older breeds mainly for lambing).
Jim took on Julian Uff (Colin Longfoot’s cousin) to work, and because he wanted to learn about sheep and pigs, he started with guilts (young sows.)
When the Darby’s stopped at what is now Church View, Jim took on their land, 120 acres all arable, and also the drying yard next to the Village Hall. He took on 150 acres of Church Commissioners land at the back ajoining the Darbys and Jim also started farming Brain Sharpe’s land for him, some of which was Church Commissioners and some Milton land.
Since then Jim has bought a farm at Barleythorpe Rutland 159 acres at Park Manor Farm, and taken on another 180 acres. He and his son now farm about 1260 acres. Jim and Stewart have been partners since 1991, and Stewart now legally has the tenancy of the Hollies.
Gladdy has now worked for Jim for 16 years, doing shepherd and ploughing.
Before that George Magan, Jason’s father worked for Jim, as did Ernie Reynolds who lived next to the Prince in what is now Betty Dunham’s house. Don Ireland worked at the Hollies before he went to the Post Office. Mick lampard did shepherd for a while and Andy Smith as a young man was employed as casual help.
Notes made by W Burke talking to Jim, Patsy and Stewart on 15 may 2002 at the Hollies Farm Castor