It was after the war in the early 1950's that the new crop to our area was encouraged, Sugar Beet. Father had a contract, the factory supplied the seed, and the beet had got to be taken half a mile down the road to the sidings of Great Bridgeford station.
This is not Bridgeford Station but this was the same LMS (London Midland Scotland) loco as used to shunt trucks in and out of the sidings, these were the type of wagons in the picture.
The beet was loaded onto a 20 ton railway goods wagon with five days to get it loaded We had no elevator or anything in them days the beet had got to be thrown up into the truck the first half of the load could be thrown through the open door of the truck, but after that it was eight foot up even when standing on our beet trailer.
The sugar beet pulp was sent by the beet factory by rail in a covered van type truck to the same siding. Of this you could only have your allocation according to what amount of sugar beet you sent in. These railway trucks were in the sidings at the station for only about five days, and then the shunter engine came and took them. The same applied to the coal trucks, the coal merchant had got to get it empty in that time.
At weekends we would go down to the station with the load of beet and sometimes we could go into the signal box with the signal man and warm up in front of his big pot bellied stove . In the corner of the signal box was cardboard box with explosive detonators, these were clipped on the track when there was thick fog and train drivers could not see signals, bit close to the stove we thought. When the shunting engine came to collect trucks out of the sidings we were aloud to pull some of his levers, we were given a detonator to clip on the line for the shunted wagons to run over, it made an almighty bang.
Father Grew Sugar Beet
Father grew sugar beet, for this he had a contract,
Corporation supplied the seed, gave advice and backed,
Seed was sown on the flat, didn't have to ridge,
Singling and weeding, big gang with hoe's for tillage.
Had a side hoe on the tractor, four rows at a time,
Just the weeds between the plants, in May they're at their prime.
Once the beet leaves touched in the row, smothered all the weed,
Not much now to do, but let them grow the bulk what we need.
Lifting beet we had a tool, firked under the roots of the crop,
Again its on the tractor, to make it easier to pull and top,
Two rows pulled by the leading man, and laid across the rows,
Two either side put on top to wilt, sugar from tops to root allows.
Beet is topped by hand into, alternate piles of tops and beet,
Roots loaded onto biggest trailer, taken to station did repeat,
Fill the wagon in the siding, it takes twenty tons,
Got five days to load and fill, then shunter collects full wagons.
Beet tops are fed to the cows, right up to the turn of the year,
Loaded by hand and chucked out on grass, before the cows appear,
They gave good milk and enjoyed, and improved the yield,
Sugar Beet was a winner all round, dam cold job across the field.
No precision drills and no rubbed and graded seed, so once the beet seedling came through they came in clumps and had got to be singled and gapped by hand with hand hoe's. The tractor steerage hoe cleared the weeds down the row which did four rows at a time, the man on the back steered the impliment to follow the rows of seedlings closely.
I Remember Singling Sugar Beet
I remember singling sugar beet, on Barn Field it was long,
Ten of us following close, and talking in a throng,
Owd Tommy he was slow, and he got left behind,
Ground was dry and dusty, not enough to blind.
Now George he's in his thirties, his bladder wouldn't hold,
Got to have a pee now, halfway down the row behold,
He pee'd on top of Tommy's row, and then he carried on,
Till Tommy came across a damp spot, in his row dead on.
Further down we all watched, as he stuck his finger in,
To see what had wet the earth, held muddy finger by his chin,
We all rolled with laughter, till we told him what was on his paws,
Poor owd Tummy takes a joke, short straw he always draws.
This is about an old man Tommy who lived and worked about the village all his life, he lived with his sister, and farmed a few acres made hay for his three cows and their calves.
He had a big garden where he grew mangols for the cows, along with all the normal garden household produce. Tommy was in his sixties when we were growing up, and always came to help with singling the beet, though he was a bit slow, and helped to build the stacks and bays of wheat and oats, and then again when the thresher man came to the village, he followed that round all the farms. For the younger readers it took nine men to operate the old threshing box before the days of the combine.
Tommy was often the butt of tricks, one of which was when he and Nelly had their first television, and had a new aerial put up on his chimney. We would be in our teens, and Tommy was "crowing" about what they had bought and about the expense. We also knew that he kept his now disused bowler hat on a peg just inside of his back door. So one dark night before he had locked his door we got hold of his bowler, brought up a long ladder from the farm, and with the aid if Nelly's washing line prop, hooked his bowler on top of his new TV aerial. Well he could not get it down and there it stayed for quite a few weeks until a strong wind dislodged it.
Quotation by Caesar Augustus (63BC-14AD
Young men, hear an old man to whom old men harkened when he was young.