Dairying student in 1945 shares her experience

Photo shows students butter churning at Reaseheath, taken around 1940

Doreen Taylor-Brown, a dairying student at Reaseheath from 1945, sent us this letter in 2021, sharing her experience of studying with us and what she went onto do in her career.

I, Doreen Taylor-Brown (nee Pickwell) entered the college as a student studying dairying in September 1945 age 16 years. I had become interested in farming since, at the age of 6 years, my twin sister and I had been enjoying all school holidays at a farm in Staffordshire. At that time the income of relatively small farmers was very low and so having two even small guests was very welcome. We joined in all the family activities and life, milking the cows by hand, and as we grew older helping generally. They did cheese and butter making by hand churns and during the war years these were very welcome additions to our diets. So, my interest in dairying began…

At 16 years having passed my school certificate with credit I entered Reaseheath as a student in September 1945, just after the war so things were pretty grim. My father drove me there from Cheadle, Cheshire where we lived and whereas we were impressed by the tidiness of the hall it was very cold, so Dad gave me a rug as extra bedding. The twin bunks were in cubicles. All students were cold which got worse as the winter progressed! Oh, for a hot breakfast! No. Just DRIED EGG on toast. We never had a real one yet there were, of course, hens around. As we were so hungry I and other students used to eat the pieces of raw curd to try and stem the hunger pangs. Result we put weight on.

My closest friend was a farmer’s daughter – Phyllis Willow. A very pleasant girl whose scrubbing put me to shame. We remained in touch for a number of years until she married a young farmer. Then I married some years later a manager of M/c. Co-operative catering so we drifted apart.

Whilst at the college I was sent for training in cheese-making to a farm in Malpas. NOT a very happy experience. I left the college having achieved a 1st Class pass. I diversified into laboratory work and after attending evening classes became a fully qualified Dairy Bacteriologist and worked for two Co-operative dairies before I married, etc. Lots of happy memories of Reaseheath and particularly of Miss Bennion and other tutors who really worked very hard in often difficult post-war circumstances.

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