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Hoathwaite Farm

Memories  from  my  Childhood  at  Hoathwaite  Farm
By Joyce Halton (nee Herdman)

My parents Frank and Lily Herdman, came to Hoathwaite Farm, Torver, in the spring of 1928.  Farming was hard in those days, especially with the slump in 1929 which affected the whole Country.  The weather often ran to extremes with very wet summers and bitterly cold, snowy winters.  Animals only brought a low price at market and farming implements were very primitive compared to today’s modern machinery. 

Hoathwaite was a lovely traditional old farmhouse and I remember the initials I.A.M. and the date 1704 on a spice cupboard in the kitchen.  Fortunately even in the 1930’s there were some holiday visitors who came to stay at the farm in the summertime.  Our farm was a long walk from Torver Railway Station, so my Father would go with a horse and cart to meet the train and transport the visitor’s bags and suitcases back to Hoathwaite for them. 

My Mother was a very good cook, and the guests enjoyed the lovely home cooked meals she made for them.  The area has always been attractive to walkers and climbers and Coniston Lake was only a short walk across the fields from our farmhouse.

At the beginning of the Second World War farming improved and milk was collected by a lorry each day in kits, which resulted in a monthly cheque from the Milk Marketing Board.  Farmers were encouraged to plough and grow corn which was threshed in the autumn for straw and oatmeal, and it was around this time that subsidies on Sheep began.

The winter of 1940 was very severe and cold. A deep fall of snow came in Jan/Feb coupled with a strong wind, which caused drifting and the snow was several feet deep.  Snow-clearing equipment was not very good and there was no salt treatment in those days so it hung about for weeks making the roads impassable. A lot of sheep were buried in drifts on the fell for days until the farmers located them and dug them out.

The Herdmans’ left Hoathwaite farm in the Spring of 1955.