Farm labouring at 2s with beer, 2s.6d. without

By Leslie Frost

When I mentioned last week that there are two Warleys in Worcestershire, I was not referring to Warley Wigorn (or Worcestershire) and Warley Salop, both of which are now contained within the County Borough of Warley, but to that village of Warley which is near to Worcester.

I have written on a number of occasions about how our Warley came to be divided into the two parts Warley Wigorn and Warley Salop, and of how by dint of transfer of land on marriage, sale of the boundaries of the two became very confusing indeed until they were brought together again in the last century.

The founder and first editor of the former, “Oldbury Weekly News", the Rev. Henry McKean had an interesting note in connection with this in his “Picturesque Oldbury" which was published by the Midland Printing Company in 1900, when he said:

"On the formation of the Local Board many isolated parts of Warley were included in the Oldbury district. The story of these isolated parts of 0ldbury, Langley and Warley will perhaps never be known but it must be one of love or war, of marriage portions or fights for a habitation and a home in a neighbour’s territory. The Oldbury portions all came back to their old home on the formation of the new Oldbury in 1894. There is a tradition that only one man ever succeeded in mastering the difficulty in connection with the old boundaries and the effort was so great that he died."

But on those aspects of our history I want to write in more details on a later occasion, and today I should like to go back and join Richard Miller on his large and well-maintained Brant Hall Farm in Warley.

Brandhall Farm
Brandhall Farm House and pond ©QLHS/VHarris

The growing of Swedish turnips, or swedes as we call them nowadays was first introduced into this country in about 1795. Although we cannot prove that Mr. Miller actually brought swedes to Britain he was certainly one of the first to cultivate them here. By 1807 he was growing large quantities on his Brant Hall Farm for animal feeding purposes.

A large part of the farm was devoted to potatoes, and for this crop we are told that after well working, manuring and harrowing the ground level he “strikes furrows with the common plough two feet apart, drops sets, covers with hoe and rake and as they shoot horse-hoes them with a plough, turning a furrow either way, the earth boards on either side of this plough can be set wider or narrower with screws."

With this method, he was able to achieve a yield of between three hundred and four hundred bushels per acre, a bushel being taken for this purpose as 80 pounds weight, so this was all average of about 13 tons per acre.

Quinton Fields
Quinton Fields to Brandhall circa 1930s © QLHS/VHarris

Richard Miller’s other crops at Brant Hall included barley and other cereals, but part of his large farm was set aside for dairy farming and he gained a widespread reputation for his Longhorns.

In additions he had large numbers of sheep. He seems to have specialised in what were known in the early 1800s as new English Leicesters” and to maintain his large flock he purchased rams from breeders in Leicestershire and Nottingham every year.

The Brant Hall of Richard Miller has certainly undergone vast changes as it has been transformed into the Brandhall, which we know today. Not the least of those changes has been in the earnings of the people who live and work there, for from Richard Miller's records we know that in 1807 he paid his labourers 2/- a day each when he supplied them with beer, or 2/6 a day without beer. For working on the harvest he paid I/6 together with meat and drink and carriage of a load of coal.

The wagonners lived in and were paid £12 12s. 0d, a year with board whilst his manservant received £10 10s. 0d a year with board, which works out at approximately 2/- per week, plus food and lodgings.

The dairymaids also lived in and were paid between £5 and £6 each, yearly with board, but the under maids received only between £3 and £5 a year which gave them a weekly wage of between 1s 2d and 1s 11d together with board.

Ed’s Comment- the above article was discovered in a local library archives. I thought it made interesting reading and including two photographs from the slide collection of Vivienne Harris’s father, recently donated to the society.

© QLHS – Leslie Frost 2004

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