Ide and Alphington Agricultural Association Annual Ploughing Matches

The competitors mentioned in this history lived and worked in the village of Alphington.

The Ploughing Match of 1865

The earliest record I have found is for the ploughing match that took place in a field in the occupation of Mr T. Letheran, Pole House Farm in 1865. There were 29 ploughs on the ground. The second ploughing class was for farmers or their sons from the district. The first prize of five pounds and a piece of plate was won by Mark Milton, Thomas Kerridge was second and won two pounds two shillings, third was John Floyd who won a double reined bridle. The best ploughman class was won by James Wedlake with Mr Wilcocks the prize was two pounds and two shillings, third prize of one pound went to James Milford with Mr Howard. The best ploughman with a one-way plough match was won by James Hutchings with Mr Wilcocks and the prize was two pounds and two shillings. In second place came W. Smale with Mr Way and he won one pound and ten shillings, in third place was Joseph Milton with Mr Loram and the prize was one pound. Another member of the Hutchings family with Mr Kerridge won the best ploughboy under 18 class and he received one pound and ten shillings. In second place came W. Pedrick with Mr Floyde, he won fifteen shillings. William Milton won second prize in the long service class, he had been with Mr Howard of Alphington for 19 years. A class that was included sometimes was the agricultural labourer bringing up the largest family under 18 years of age and this was won by Thomas Bradford with Mr Loram, the prize was one pound and ten shillings.

The dinner was held at the Admiral Vernon Inn and after the usual toasts Rev. G. Walters gave a speech about the state of agricultural labourers in Devon. Correspondence in newspapers from Canon Girdlestone had cast a very unjust slur upon farmers of the county. Rev. Walters did not believe that the farmers of Devon oppressed their labourers in any way, farmers did not starve themselves or their labourers. From his observations farm labourers in Devon were far better off then those in Suffolk and Huntingdonshire but the condition of the labourers was not all that it should be and there was ample room for improvement.

Lord Courtenay then spoke of the cattle plague and that very stringent rules for the regulation of cattle traffic would be passed.

The next speech came from the Earl of Devon and he encouraged farmers and their sons to make themselves practically familiar with the work of their labourers. Therefore, not only good work would be noticed but also when work was carelessly done these labourers could be helped to improve. He also spoke of the cattle plague that had attached 253,000 head of cattle that year in Great Britain. In Devon the estimated stock stood at 184,000 and only 224 had been attacked; 87 had been killed, 82 had died, 34 had recovered but 21 were unaccounted for. The cattle plague came into the country from cattle imported from the Baltic on 29th May 1865, they were carriers of rinderpest virus. Infected stock were sent to Devon and on the 8th July the disease broke out near Plymouth. In February 1866 the Cattle Diseases Prevention Bill was rushed through Parliament. The Bill stated that the slaughter of all diseased animals was obligatory and those that had been in contact with the disease would be slaughtered at the discretion of the local authority. Compensation was paid at the local rate. Sever restrictions were imposed on cattle movement and importation. These measures were effective and the disease was rapidly mastered. There continued to be sporadic cases in London but the disease was completely eradicated in September of 1867.

Dr Bassett expressed his pleasure that Lord Devon was determined to grant leases to all deserving tenants on his estate.

The final toast of the evening was to 'our next merry meeting'.

The Ploughing Match of 1866

The eighth annual ploughing match in 1866 took place in the fields in the occupation of Messrs Milton and Richards of Ide. The ground was not in very good condition due to the recent very dry weather, however, the ploughing was said to be very well done.

John Floyde won a silver cup and five pounds and five shillings for ploughing and William Hawkins was given an extra prize of a plate and five pounds and five shillings. The best plough man was Luke Osborn and he won two pounds and two shillings, Luke was a ploughman for Mr Milton. Two of Mr White's farm labourers were placed in the best ploughman with one way plough class. They were James Pitts winning one pound and ten shillings for a second place and Albert Crump winning one pound for third place. The best plough boy under 18 was Thomas Milton winning one pound and one shilling he worked for Mr Loram. This year a thatching class was included, first place and one pound went to Abraham Crump with Mr Robert White; second place and 15 shillings went to James Ash with Mr Way. The longest service with good character class was won by William Beer who had been in the employ of Messrs Milton of Roles Bridge. The last class, 'long families', proved most successful for Alphington families. First was William Beer in Mrs Milton's employ he won one pound for having six children under 12. Samuel Clapp in the employ of Mr Martin Milton won 15 shillings for second place, he had five children. Third came Francis Seward in the employ of Mr Milton also with five children, he won 10 shillings. Fourth came George Davey working for Mr Floyde, he also have five children and he won six shillings.

At the dinner following the classes and ploughing matches it was noted that the numbers attending were much smaller. Mr Kekewich said the association funds were large and more people should have been present. He suggested that the association be extended into other Parishes, for example, Exminster.

The Ploughing Match of 1868

The 1868 ploughing match took place in a field on the farm of Mr Braddon of Pynes. There were 24 competitors and the work was described as capitally done.

Alphingtonians who won prizes were: W. Kerridge placed first in a ploughing match, he won five guineas and a piece of plate, second came Mark Milton winning an Eddy's improved prixie plough and third came Thomas Kerridge winning one guinea. Jos Hutchins won best ploughman and two guineas. J. Burridge came third and won one pound in the one-way plough class. The best plough boy under 18 was W. Denshame winning one pound and 10 shillings, he was plough boy to Mr Derridge. Some of the farm servants were rewarded for long service. Anne Davey won ten shillings for working for Mr Wilcocks for 12 years and nine months and Ann Bishop was 15 shillings for working for Mrs Way for 15 years.

The usual dinner followed taking place at the New Inn.

The Ploughing Match of 1870

The final ploughing match that I looked at took place in 1870 and it was held in a field on Pengelly's Farm that was kindly lent by Mr Wilcocks.

This year a large number of ploughs had been entered the total number being 32. The work done in each class, except for the double ploughing, was declared by the judges to be of first rate description. The soil was a red loam and in good condition.

In the first ploughing class, John Floyde won a double reined bridge and Mark Wilton won a special prize of a piece of plate and five pounds and 15 shillings. In the following class Luke Osborne working for Mrs Milton of Rolles Bridge gained third place. James Wellock, working for Mr Wilcocks won second prize of one pound and 10 shillings in the one-way ploughs. George Bond working for Mr Cormick won the plough boys under 18 class, his prize was one pound and one shilling. In the thatching competition Abraham Crump with Mr White of Wheatley won 10 shillings. John Condy with Mr Elliott was awarded an extra prize. William Milton who had worked for Mr Floyde and his predecessor at Aldens Farm for 21 years won the labourer working longest on the same farm with testimonials class, his prize was one pound and 10 shillings.

The dinner was held at Mr Mitchell's Admiral Vernon Inn and it was attended by over 100 people. Following the many toasts Mr JEC Walkey spoke about the amount of paupers in England. During the past 10 years the numbers had increased by about 80,000. He went on to say that England was the most prosperous and wealthy nation yet had the greatest proportion of paupers.

Lord Courtenay said he always received the invitation to the Ide and Alphington Anniversary dinner with the greatest of pleasure. He pointed out the advantage to be derived from the establishment of agricultural associations and showing that the premiums given for long service etc. were not to be looked upon as rewards but simply as public acknowledgement of merit. He thanked Mr Wilcock for the loan of the ploughing field.

One judge confirmed that the work done in the field was capital excepting that of the class for double ploughs. This showed that a better double plough was needed than had yet been manufactured.


Copyright © Rowena Kirkpatrick