Bolton School Former Pupils
Agricultural Camps in the 1940s
Derek Rothwell (1938 - 1945) has written this account of the camp held at Mowbrek Hall Farm, Wesham, nr Kirkham.
This camp was set up either in 1941 or 1942 and its function was to help bring in the harvest in Wartime Britain. It was part of the War Effort. The camp was held in August and we slept in bell tents - eight boys in a tent. A wooden shippon served as a dining hall. Boys went to the camp for 2 or 4 weeks and cycled from home to the farm. There were always 2 or 3 masters in attendance.
The meals were prepared and cooked by Sergeant Somerville and his wife. The pots and pans were cleaned by two boys considered too young to work on the farm (under 14). These two boys peeled the potatoes which involved a lot of work as they were preparing food for 30 other boys working as farm laborers. At the first camp these two boys were Douglas Somerville and me.
After breakfast at 8.00am the boys left the camp in pairs on bicycles to work on farms within a 5-mile radius. The farmers provided the boys with a hot lunch and they had a hot meal at camp at 6.00pm.
The work on the farm consisted of harvesting oats, wheat and barley- stoking, loading the attocks and feeding the threshing machine. If the crop in the morning was wet - potato picking was carried out until the crop became dry.
There was a good relationship between the farmers and the boy labourers. Pay was sixpence per hour (2.5p) and we were charged five shillings (25p) per week for food. All the wages went into a common fund and at the end of the camp after all expenses had been deducted there was always a profit, which was shared out equally amongst the campers.