Memoirs of an agriculture student – 1948-49

Brian Pringle shares his memories and few anecdotes from his time as an agriculture student at the Cheshire School of Agriculture (Reaseheath), 1948-49

I was a resident student in 1948 and at that time there were 36 male students; 21 female and 5 or 6 students studying horticulture.

Practical work was the priority and we were divided up into teams so that we could get experience of all aspects of farm work. The day started at 6am and we breakfasted between 8am-9am followed by 3 x 1 hour lectures, lunch 12pm-1pm then divided into teams to do the various practical duties until 5.30pm. Tea was served at 6pm and for four nights each we were expected to revise and make notes on the work we had done during the day.

Meals were adequate but rationing was still on and each of us were given a 1lb jam jar which contained our butter ration for the week. One particular week several of us had eaten our said ration portion by Wednesday and we went up to the farm and filled our jars with molasses – very healthy! With no problems arising…we were encouraged to carry on.

During my time as a student I recall Mr J Lambert as the Principal (who lectured mainly on crops), Mr R D Park was a Vice Principal (who lectured on live stock), George Simpson lectured on economics, Mr Brookfield lectured on horticulture and Miss Reiss lectured science. Lecturers not on the permanent staff list included W A Carr who taught grassland (in 1955-58 I was PA to his son Peter Carr who ran 100 commercial cows on 100 acres with loosing housing 4 unit Pit parlour, paddock grazing and self-fed silage – the first farm in the UK to be thus organised and the original shippons and lofts were laying birds) and Brian Wilson (MRCVS) a local vet who lectured on veterinary science.

Wednesday evening was ‘relaxation evening’ and several of the female students joined us for either dancing, a film or lecture and some of us even managed ‘dates’ – with the opportunity to meet again on a Sunday afternoon if we weren’t down to work.

Unbelievably I had a single room and below the window was quite a wide edge and to the left drainpipe – in 1948 we had quite a few ex-service students who filed through my room each evening and proceeded to the local pubs after the warden had been around and check we were all in bed! One evening several of us decided to go to the Conservative dance in Nantwich – we got a rude awakening when we arrived, as Mr Lambert was on the door!!

Another funny story and so called practical joke… in the next double room to me, one student fitted a string from the light switch to his bed head. Each evening he ran from the washroom to his bedroom calling “goodnight”, and he leapt onto his bed. A colleague and I had lifted the front end of his bed out of the sockets – “oh dear” – he landed, the bed castors broke, the bed went down with an almighty bang, the light went out and the back of the bed came down and gave our fellow student a very nasty knock – the air was blue, matron and a lecturer arrived and myself and a colleague owned up to what we had done. The £5 deposit – that each of us had paid for our rooms, to coverage breakages was lost the following day and we were duly ‘taken to task’ by Mr Lambert and were very lucky not to be expelled!

All in all it was a good period in our respective lives and it came to an end in July 1949. I was fortunate indeed to gain a credit pass in the final exams.

I did practical work until aged 30 but then joined Batchelors Foods becoming the National Special A/es Mgr but returned to a farming career aged 41, becoming Managing Director of Pioneer Holstein Breeders Group and subsequently M.D. of The Green Acres Farming Co retiring at 67 having travelled extensively throughout the British Isles, America, Canada, Europe, India, Australia and New Zealand.

Studying at Reaseheath played a very important part in my life and it gives me great pleasure in reading all the various publications that so vividly illustrate the present achievements of today’s students.

Brian Pringle

Agriculture student, 1948-49

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