His­toric day for vil­lage

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Kather­ine Cle­men­tine

THE HISTORY of Har­mondsworth vil­lage was open for all to en­joy, at an event held in con­junc­tion with Lon­don Open House week­end.

A day-long cel­e­bra­tion of the his­toric vil­lage in­cluded guided tours, where visi­tors took a look in­side the Great Barn, Har­mondsworth Hall, The Grange, The Five Bells, Har­mondsworth Bap­tist Church and The Pound.

The Women’s Land Army (WLA) were hon­oured with a spe­cial horse-drawn trib­ute, cre­at­ing a re-en­act­ment of a typ­i­cal day in 1941 for the coun­try’s Land Girls. Land Army vet­er­ans, all in their late eight­ies and nineties, from Ick­en­ham, West Dray­ton and Hayes turned up to en­joy an ed­u­ca­tional com­men­tary from Roy Bar­wick, who help or­gan­ise the reen­act­ment.

He said: “We gave a history of how the land army was formed and gave a demon­stra­tion of the land girls har­ness­ing their horse up and go­ing off for a days work.

“We then gave a com­men­tary of what hap­pened to the Land Army af­ter the war, af­ter 1945, where the girls were de­nied ev­ery post-war ben­e­fit that was awarded to ev­ery other women’s ser­vice.”

The Land Girls did a wide range of jobs, in­clud­ing milk­ing cows, lamb­ing, man­ag­ing poul­try, plough­ing, gath­er­ing crops, dig­ging ditches, catch­ing rats and car­ry­ing out farm main­te­nance work.

A round 80 per cent of the young women who joined the Land Army came from city jobs and took a con­sid­er­able pay cut to take part in the agri­cul­tural work.

Mr Bar­wick had first hand ex­pe­ri­ence of the Women’s Land Army as he worked with the girls in 1944, be­fore be­ing called into the army.

He added: “The farm­ers could not have in­creased the pro­duc­tion with­out the help of the land army. They were the low­est paid peo­ple, work­ing over 50 hours a week and earn­ing 28 shillings a week with half go­ing to board and lodg­ings. It was no fun get­ting up at five in the morn­ing to a field of muddy cows par­tic­u­larly when these girls had come from city jobs.

“When the coun­try was fight­ing for it’s life, the girls did a tremen­dous job and it’s very un­for­tu­nate that their ef­fort was never recog­nised un­til very very re­cent years.”

The Land Girls were of­fi­cially recog­nised in 2008, when they could ap­ply for a badge to com­mem­o­rate their ef­forts through the Depart­ment for En­vi­ron­ment, Food and Ru­ral Af­fairs.

As well as the Land Army trib­ute, visi­tors to the vil­lage on Septem­ber 19 could en­joy mu­sic of The Band of the Mid­dle­sex Yeo­manry, a talk by his­to­rian on The Bat­tle for a Third Run­way at Heathrow, Horse Drawn Wagon Rides, the Na­tional Farm­ers’ Union Dis­play and The King’s Troop Royal Horse Ar­tillery.

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