This month, in the shadow of the Turra Show, we look at Leatham on Farming/Agriculture in Gateway and beyond. While James Leatham was not a farmer, he had a lifelong interest in agriculture. While working for the Peterhead Sentinel in the 1880’s he had a regular column in which he wrote as a farmer - Archie Tait. This may have been the first of Leatham's many writing aliases.
A quick trawl through the Gateway Index (which I’m still in the process of compiling) shows that articles on Harvest, Agriculture and Farming were frequent.
Over the 15 year period from 1923 to 1939 there are 22 dedicated articles as follows:
NO 134 Oct 1923 The Meaning of Harvest. The Only policy for Agriculture. An Address by Mr James Leatham p18
How the Railways Might help Agriculture. British Railway freight ‘the highest in the world’ p23
No 147 November 1924 1924 Farming Inquiry for Aberdeenshire p8
Dec 25 Railway Rates and Agriculture. By Jacobus p23
No 170 Oct 1926 The Parlous Plight of Agriculture. And the Tried and Proved Remedy. By the Editor. P1
The Brittany of Scotland. A Constituency of Farming and Fishing. How we are fixed in East Aberdeenshire. A difficulty Surmounted. By James Leatham. P9
Vol 15 No 172 Nov 1926 Speed the Plough p24 Cut-Throat Farm. By J.D.B p25
No175 Mar 1927Farmers Decline State Assistance p8
No178 June 1927 Compulsory Co-operation for Farmers. The East Aberdeenshire Resolution. What Other Countries are Doing. By O.M. Kile p24
No 184 December 1927 Orkney Farmers £180,000 for Eggs in 1926 p24
No 187 March 1928 The Farmer’s Friend p11
No192 Aug 1928 A Yorkshire Farmhouse – Cross Purposes p11
No 194 Oct 1828 Can Britain Live Without External Trade? Are Agriculture and Crafts Enough? By the Editor p10
No 197 Jan 1929 The World’s Oldest Farmer. John Chinaman’s Intensive Cultivation. By Adam Warwick p23
No 200 April 1929 Ireland Capturing the Egg market. State Intervention in Irish Agriculture Generally. Better than Barricades p25
No 211 Mar 1930 The Supreme Issue of the Hour. Stop the Wrecking of Agriculture. By the Editor p1
217 Sept 1930 The World’s largest Farmer on Russia p23
No 220 Dec 1930 Communism in China. Farmers For Soviets in Self-Defence. By Maxwell. S. Stewart p26
No 222 The Pioneer and the People. A workers’ farm that Failed and Why. The story of an Experiment. By Herbert Watson p10
Farmers hard to Please p32
No 236 Sept-Oct 1932 Vol 20 The Farmers’ Strikes. The Remedy so simple as to be incredible. By the Editor p1
No 241 Mid April 1933 Farm Carts and Heavy Crops Versus Sailing Ships And Poor Crops. The Australian Grain Ships arrive p8
No 260 Mid November 1934 Does Import Control mean just higher rents? A reply to a farmer’s odd attack. By the Editor p1
No 263 Feb 1935 Why Farm Wages are low p4
314 July 1939 British Bread the Cheapest in the world. No wonder if farmers need subsidies and men leave the land. By Jacobus p11
These show us some patterns and development of thought and I suggest will give something of a picture of the state of farming (at least from one perspective) in the interwar years.
It is certainly enough to remind us that there is plenty of politics in agriculture. For us in a rural community it is just as important as for the urban majority though perhaps in different ways. But export markets and things like the CAP are simply today’s versions of earlier issues/problems. I often wonder what Leatham would have made of it all today.
There are two major pamphlets which Leatham published on Farming – they were updated and the editions I have read are revised but they both date from 1925/6 You can download them from above and reading them gives us something of a snapshot of how interesting articles from the past can be – even if you don’t buy into the political angles or answers, there is still much of historical interest to be learned from reading them. I hope that some time in the future I’ll be able to pull together all Leatham’s writing on farming/agriculture and see what comes out in the wash!
I conclude by suggesting that keeping a record of the agricultural past is important. Turriff and District Heritage Society work hard in this respect. I would like to point you toward Allan Stephen's work pulling together the 150th anniversary of the Turriff Show and the society's participation in the Aberdeen Angus Trail. I wonder:
What else might we do to preserve the past for the future in terms of Turriff and farming?
The Deveron Press.
To find past articles please use monthly archives.