North Sunderland and Seahouses WI, January meeting

WARM WELCOME: The president of North Sunderland and Seahouses WI, Betty Walton, opened the meeting, welcoming everyone present on such a very cold evening, especially as our December meeting had been cancelled.

Mrs Wood, secretary, read out the minutes of the previous meeting. These were approved and signed. A letter from New Zealand was also read out.

Future dates: February 3, circle dancing; February 25, coffee morning: Brunton Park; March 10, spring council meeting, Hexham; March 16, Reading Aloud, Belford; March 23, Down Your Way; guided walk, Newcastle.

Our next pub lunch will be on Saturday, January 29, at The Ship at noon.

Our guest speaker for the evening was our very own local resident, Scott Smith. The subject was Farming, Then and Now, covering the last 100 years of farming.

Scott told us how he, his father and grandfather before him had started in the area way back in 1872. It is only when one looks at photographs and slides of life in years gone by that we realise just how much our way of life has changed.

Scott had several interesting slides, namely drilling – horse-drawn.

He had slides of a mechanical tractor, very up to date in the 20s, a steam-driven threshing machine, circa 1927/8; building hay stacks (these looked positively ; ploughing with three horses; female bondagers about 1900/02 working in the fields, and hay being stacked. The last slide was of a very well-loved horse.

In years gone by farms were very individual, farmers keeping hens, cows and pigs.

It was in the 1950s that the big changes started to take place. There was a demand and encouragement for higher yields, the introduction of the combine and, more recently of course, computerised farming equipment.

In turn there were more specialised fertilisers which increased the yield, coupled with modern drying equipment and storage. This has also applied to livestock, to produce more healthy, good quality lambs.

In 1980 a co-operative of farms was formed with facilities at Belford. It is there that the harvested crops of cereals are separated or blended, as required.

Scott concluded his very interesting talk by producing some ancient items which, in their time , were valuable assets. These included protective leggings and various implements.

The vote of thanks was given by Judith Stephenson. The competition, a local view, was won by Mrs C Phillips, Mrs M Turner and Mrs J Stephenson.

Our next meeting will be our party on February 3, when we will have a pooled supper. All invited.