Tuesday, August 29, 2017

I visit the excellent rural history museum at Pitstone Green

A display of old ploughs
On Monday I decided to revisit the rural history museum at Pitstone Green. This is run by the Pitstone and Ivinghoe Museum Trust about 10 times a year, and the last time I visited it was at Easter 2009.

The museum is located in the farm buildings of Pitstone Green Farm, which were largely built by the Countess of Bridgewater (who lived in nearby Ashridge House) between 1820 and 1850. The farm itself was occupied by members of the Hawkins family from 1808, and on the death of Jeff Hawkins in 2001 the farm was left to the National Trust and is now part of the Ashridge Estate.
Display of mechanized farm equipment and the Great Barn

The farm buildings are a good example of early-mid farm buildings of the period, but there is also a much older great barn (used for arts and crafts stalls, but also containing a large cart) which was probably moved to the site when the current buildings were erected. The old cowshed, now used to display farming tools, reminded me of farm visits I made as a child some 70 years ago. The pioneering 1946 automated grain silos are also of interest to the farming historian. 

The Wheelwright's Workshop
As you walk round the museum you pass the blacksmith's forge, and the workshops of a wheelwright, a carpenter, a plumber, a cobbler, a brush maker, a printer and a book binder. All have a display of the tools they use and the goods they produced - and several are manned by volunteers skilled in the relevant craft. There was also a demonstration of lace making and on my earlier visit there was someone basket making. There are also displays relating to straw platt (which was an important cottage industry in the surrounding parts of Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire and brick making.

There is also an extensive collection of farm implements from small hand tools to a massive threshing machine made in 1917, together with old farm carts, and in 2017 a cart horse was in attendance. I liked the display of early mechanized farm tools and the engines that powered them and there is a powerful Crossley Gas engine, from Grace's Mill in Akeman Street, Tring. together with the associated gas making plant.

Model of Canal Wharf
Domestic issues are not forgotten and in addition to displays of old photographs and family history information there is a reconstruction of an old farm kitchen and a living room from the 1940s adjoins an area with first world war memorabilia. 

As there is  a major railway line and canal in the area it is appropriate that there is a large model layout which shows how the railways looked in the days of steam, while Wag's Wharf models a canal wharf and pumping station. There is also a science room, a display of early home computers, and reconstruction of a Lancaster bomber.

There are also extra attractions on open days and in 2009 there was a display of veteran army transport and an outdoor model railway line which had Thomas the Tank Engine going round. In 2017 there was a display of veteran cars - the Austin 7 reminding me of the first car i remember - which was a larger Austin 10. There was also a steam car offering rides but while it might look old I gather the car was built from a modern kit. On both occasions there was the chance of taking a trip round the farm by tractor and trailer.

The Steam Car
All in all a most attractive day out - particularly if you interested in local and farming history relating to the Chilterns and the Herts/Bucks border country.

No comments:

Post a Comment

This is the newsletter for the Genealogy in Hertfordshire Web site. Comments on this blog are moderated and may be transferred to the web site where appropriate. If you have a local or family history query you want answered you must use "Ask Chris" - See box in right hand column. Anonymous comments cannot be answered.