Dales Plants and Gardens 1900-1960: growing food
Most of our interviewees lived lives of deprivation and poverty by today’s standards. Several won scholarships to grammar schools, but couldn’t go because there was no money for books.
Today, having a shower, making coffee and rummaging for a clean shirt can all be done in our sleep as we fumble towards the front door on a morning. But domestic chores without mains water and electricity meant whole days had to be set aside for tasks such as keeping clean and cooking. Children worked alongside their parents in the home and garden from the time that they could walk. By the age of 14, many left school to work on the family farm, live out as a servant or take up an apprenticeship.
Agricultural pay has always been very low. It wasn’t unusual for a farm labourer to have his weekly wages made up with as much milk and as many turnips and potatoes as he needed for his family. His tied cottage could be taken away at a week’s notice. Money had to be saved to pay doctor’s bills. Before 1948, the Welfare State that we take so much for granted didn’t exist.