The Horse and the Tractor- a Radio Ballad

by The Living Archive Band

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about

Based on the recollections of four people who grew up and worked on the Manor Farm at Calverton, North Buckinghamshire, during the 1930's, 40's and 50's, 'The Horse & the Tractor' blends their recollections and anecdotes with music written especially to accompany them.

This radio ballad format was developed by Charles Parker and Ewan McColl at the BBC in the 1950's and the material collected here by Roger Kitchen lends itself admirably to this treament. We hear about farming with horses, about the lives of the farm workers and especially their children, about the war, and about the way the agricultural way of life changed with the arrival of mechanisation.

credits

released October 1, 2014

Interviews recorded by Roger Kitchen, with thanks to Richard Fountaine, Eric West, Bet Jones and Dick Webb.

Brad Bradstock – vocals, guitar
Dave Crawford – vocals, guitar
Marion Hill – vocals
Sue Malleson – vocals
Godfrey Yeomans – bass
Kevin Adams – vocals, guitar, mandolins, fiddle

With Peter Tales, melodeon; Sheena Masson, flute; Tom Hill, piano; the Choirs of Loughton Manor First and Middle Schools, directed by Lizzie Bancroft; and solos from Tania, Oliver and Tilly Gerra.

Music recorded by Kevin Adams, who also edited the programme at StudioBlend.
Produced by Roger Kitchen, Marion Hill & Kevin Adams

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about

The Living Archive Band Milton Keynes, UK

An acoustic quintet with an emphasis on strong vocals to deliver both songs and the spoken word depicting the experiences of the people of North Buckinghamshire past and present. The inhabitants of the towns of Wolverton, Stony Stratford and Bletchley and of course the new city of Milton Keynes all have had something to say, and the Living Archive Band gives them a voice. ... more

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Track Name: Field Names: Field Song
The Field Song
Music: Rod Hall
Words: Rod Hall & Kevin Adams

Frost on the ground and a light in the sky
Early to work in the fields go I
Sounds from the farm drifting up to my ears
Mist slowly lifting, the landscape appears
A kestrel is hovering over Gib Ground,
In Park’s Piece the cattle stand, making no sound
Sheep in Big Meadow and cows on the Leys,
Bushey Field, Middle Ground, fine land to graze.


Rooks in the elms, looking down through the trees.
As I plough Lower Woolans and Thistly Piece
I’ve harrowed, I’ve sown, I have reaped and I’ve mown
Days turn to years out here, all on my own.
And still I can picture them in my mind’s eye
Dream I am walking beneath that big sky
I have grown old here, while they stay the same,
I will walk out upon them, I will treasure their names.
Track Name: Masters and Servants
Master & Servants
words & music K Adams

A greener plot of land was never seen on earth
Our Master owns it all, it was his right by birth.
Every stick and stone, every brick and tile
Every hedge and tree and every fence and stile,
Every fence and stile.

He tells us when to sow, he tells us when to reap
He tells us when to plough and when to shear the sheep.
And if he may be rich and though we may be poor
This is the way it goes, of that you may be sure
Of that you may be sure

I pass him in the lane, politely raise my hat
And if it isn’t raining stop to have a chat
We talk about the weather, talk about the stock,
Talk about our families, we’re his little flock
We are his little flock

And he will care for us, reward us with our pay
And we’ll work hard for him, we know no other way
Three cottages to hand, three families to house,
Three men to work the land and herd the sheep and cows.
` Herd the sheep and cows.

My name is Harold West, a shepherd, by and large,
And Beachampton Hill Farm is mostly in my charge.
Me, me name is Jones, strong as any horse
The stockman on the farm, and known as Taff, of course,
Known as Taff of course.
And me I am the third, Robert Webb’s the name
Though you can call me Bob, I’ll answer just the same.
Answer just the same

A greener plot of land was never seen on earth
Our Master owns it all, it was his right by birth.
Was his right by birth.
Track Name: Childrens' Jobs: Awake and Arise
Awake and Arise
Rod Hall

Awake and arise! The morning is here
The hills and the valleys are bright, fresh and clear
There’s a blue sky above us, o’er green grass we roam
Through England’s meadows, our Calverton home

My name is Bet, I’m eleven years of age
Oh life is so hard on a farm labourer’s wage
I will go into service when I am fourteen
For a gentleman and lady who live on the green

Our Bet is my sister, Dick Webb is my name
Then there’s Molly and Judy, there’s John, Mick and Jane
I can plough with a tractor, furrows straight as a pin
Mister Fountaine he’s our Master, and George is our king

My name it is Molly and I am just five
I have lived on the bank here since I was alive
I’m a good girl, a farm girl and I never complain
Whatever be the weather come sunshine or rain

Here we are all together, we have sung you our verse
We’ll see many changes for better or worse
But the land will endure as the seasons they turn
Just as springtime follows winter and swallows return
Track Name: Haymaking & Horses: Snowflake
Snowflake
Rod Hall & Kevin Adams

Our old horse, she’s a good old mare
In any kind of weather she will lead you there
From Stratford in the summer sun, Beachampton in the snow-
Taking the long way home.

White as the snow, she’s a gentle soul.
Farmer Fountaine says she’s worth her weight in gold
Eighteen hands, a powerhouse of muscle and of bone…
Taking the long way home

Taking the long way home.
Taking the long way, I know it’s not the wrong way,
For Snowflake is the finest horse that ever I have known,
Taking the long way home.

We like to rise on a warm summer's day
Early to the mowing and the sweet fresh hay
An eye upon them thunder clouds, hope they keep away
Taking the long way home.

Harvest time, it's the crown of the year
We've mowed and carted all the corn, the fields are clear
Snowflake's earned her extra mash, the men have earned their beer-
Taking the long way home.
Track Name: Rover
Rover
words & music K Adams

The ‘Dog’s Mouth’ in Cosgrove was locally famous
The fellow that lived there was old Farmer Amos
The breeding of farm dogs was his stock in trade
If you want a dog, go to Amos.
Mother had saved a few shillings to pay
So father walked over to see him one day
He picked out a puppy and brought him back home
Everyone christened him Rover.

You’re a good dog, now you’re our dog
You’ll come to no harm-
You’re a Calverton farm dog, you’re Rover.


A farm dog’s a worker, he doesn’t need petting
Worm him baccy, don’t get the vet in;
He worked with the cattle, he worked with the sheep,
Dad could rely upon Rover.
During the war there was little to eat,
Everything rationed, especially meat.
Rover would contribute in his own way-
Two rabbits for our Sunday dinner

Caught them all on your own, boy,
Now chew on the bones,
You’ve a nose for a coney, old Rover.

Rover was trusty and loyal and clever
When dad told him stay he would sit there for ever
Guarding the baby that lay in the pram
No-one would tangle with Rover.
‘I won’t be long boy, so just you take care
Watch over the children and just stay right there.’
Rover would lie with us down by the fire-
Nothing could harm us with Rover.

You’re a good dog, you’re a farm dog
And we’ll come to no harm
Watched over by faithful old Rover

We cried when he died, Rover left us too soon
But now we look forward to every full moon
Some see a crab and some see an old man
But we see the face of our Rover

You’re a good dog, you’re a farm dog
And we’ll come to no harm
Watched over by faithful old Rover
(Over by faithful old Rover.. etc)
Track Name: Life in the Cottages: Who Could Want For Better?
Who Could Want For Better?
Words & Music : Kevin Adams

We didn’t have much but we never felt the lack
We’d a roof and a fire and a privy out the back
Food on the table and the good fresh air
Who could want for better than we had right there?
I can smell cooking and the paraffin lamp
I can smell the baby cos her nappy’s damp!
But nobody’s grumbling and no one moans
Who could want for better it is home sweet home.

The cockerel’s crowing and we’re straight outdoors
Everybody busy with their daily chores
Bread and jam for breakfast as a general rule
Now all our jobs are finished so it’s off to school
Seven in the evening on a working day
Pappy tells us, ‘Come on children, clear the way!’
Who could want for better as we say ‘Goodnight,’
In our tiny little bedroom in the candlelight?

In the middle of the winter it can be so hard
Washing at the tap in the cold back yard
But who could want for better than a good hot scrub
By the range in the kitchen in the old tin tub?
Pappy’s in the scullery in braces and his vest
Soaping up and shaving for his Sunday best
He’s going into Stony for a pint or two
Who could want for better, well I’m asking you?

Sitting in the window is my special place
Cos when we’re all together well there’s not much space
Listen to the chopsin’ and the stale old jokes
Who could want for better than your own dear folks?
There’s Mum and Dad and Betty, there is Bob and Dick
There’s Judy, John and Molly, there is Jane and Mick
Who could want for better when we’re all crammed in
A cottage full of Webbs like a sardine tin.
Track Name: Christmas: The Bells & The Slaughterhouse Carol
Christmas Bells
Rod Hall

I can hear church bells row on row
Ringing for sinners here below
Telling us all our hearts are blest
Christus natus est!

All Saints Calverton on the hill
Calling to Passenham by the mill
Even Beachampton hearing the song
Merrily joins the throng

Oh, oh Christmas bells
Ringing out on Christmas morning
Oh, oh Christmas bells
Ding dong ding-a-dong ding

I think I heard angels’ heavenly sound
Singing their anthems over Gib Ground
Camels and carpenters, comets and kings
Bringing their glad tidings

Treble and tenor and baritone, bass
Grandsire Triple over Higlin’s Piece
A wondrous star that ever I’ve seen
Is shining on Horsefair Green

The Slaughtering Carol
The Slaughtering Carol

Words: Godfrey Yeomans & Kevin Adams
Tune: traditional (‘Searching for Lambs’)

We walked to Yardley for Christmas Day
Four kids and Mum with the pram
Six miles it seemed such a long, long way,
To visit Grampy and Gran.

On Christmas Morn in the slaughterhouse
They took no day of rest
The poleaxe blow, and the crimson flow
It caused us no distress

We helped them haul up the carcasses
We watched them butcher and skin
Saw piggies floating in the scalding tub
To loosen hair from skin

Each child was given a cattle hoof
To scrape off all the hair
The boiling water kept us warm
In that cold wint’ry air

No party games, no paper hats,
No treats, no barrel of beer
The bells rang out on_ Christmas Day,
But we felt little cheerWords: Godfrey Yeomans & Kevin Adams
Tune: traditional (‘Searching for Lambs’)

We walked to Yardley for Christmas Day
Four kids and Mum with the pram
Six miles it seemed such a long, long way,
To visit Grampy and Gran.

On Christmas Morn in the slaughterhouse
They took no day of rest
The poleaxe blow, and the crimson flow
It caused us no distress

We helped them haul up the carcasses
We watched them butcher and skin
Saw piggies floating in the scalding tub
To loosen hair from skin

Each child was given a cattle hoof
To scrape off all the hair
The boiling water kept us warm
In that cold wint’ry air

No party games, no paper hats,
No treats, no barrel of beer
The bells rang out on_ Christmas Day,
But we felt little cheer
Track Name: Wartime: Smiler
Smiler
Words: Godfrey Yeomans & Kevin Adams
Music: Brad Bradstock

Of Calverton in wartime a story I shall tell
About some plucky soldier-boys and Bob Webb’s horse as well.
And of some brainy boffins who came from Bletchley Park
They say these people won the war, though we were in the dark

They built a new transmitter with aerials and all
Underneath the row of elms behind our churchyard wall
Sent squaddies down to guard it who found out in due course
Our hero Bob had got there first and left his bloomin’ horse

Oh Smiler you mad, bad horse!

This horse was known as Smiler, a most deceptive name
In fact he never smiled at all, ‘cos he was barely tame.
When anyone came near him he’d give the evil eye
And Bob knew well he’d bite and kick at any passer-by.

Oh Smiler you mad, bad horse!

These brave and noble soldiers would gladly face the Hun
But weren’t no match for Smiler he soon had them on the run
They came to Bob and pleaded, “Can you move that bloody horse?”
Gladly he’d oblige, which was his crafty plan of course.

The squaddies being grateful, ‘cos Bob had saved their day
He’d make quite sure to show his face when he was down their way
They’d call him to the public bar and stand him pints of beer
And Bob would wink and raise his drink to Smiler, and say “Cheers!”

Oh Smiler you mad, bad horse!
Oh Smiler you mad, bad horse!
Oh Smiler!
Track Name: Courting: When Dick Met Alma
When Dick Met Alma
Rod Hall, Kevin Adams & Godfrey Yeomans

First set my eyes upon the girl when we were stacking hay
It was a job I’d rarely do, I’m glad I did that day
She walked below me in the lane, I looked down from on high
Such beauty I’d not seen before, she fairly took my eye.

I asked around and I was told she’s here for seven days
Visiting from Manchester, her name is Alma Gray
I treasured all I’d learnt so far and vowed to find out more
Our paths would cross, I’d speak to her, of that I’d make quite sure

I didn’t have to wait too long, the chance was soon to come
I met her walking down the street as I was cycling home
We talked a bit, we laughed a bit, then brazen as you like
To my surprise she hitched a ride on the crossbar of my bike

Well, if you’ve ever been in love you’ll know how these things go
When she went home we kept in touch, and so our love did grow
Letters written, promises, and then one special day
Asking her to marry me, I knew what she would say.

Was something magic in the air? Well we could never tell…
My brother Bob, her sister Glad were deep in love as well
Me and Alma say it’s fate, things had to be this way
Two brothers and two sisters, a double wedding day

Two brothers and two sisters, a double wedding day