Malhamdale Local History Group
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Malhamdale at War
Women's Land Army
The work was hard and they didn't do it for the money, as the pay not over generous. It was standardised in June 1943 to £2 5s per week (50 hours) with overtime at 1s 1d per hour and 1s 4d per hour for working Sundays or Bank Holidays.
The girls did ploughing, pulling turnips, picking potatoes, helping with hay time, harvest and threshing, in fact any job that needed extra labour and tractors and machinery, as most dales farms were not equipped for the type of farming which they were forced to follow in the war years. Freda Bullock, who normally worked in the Bentham area, remembers spending one extremely hot day at Lee Gate farm on Malham Moor clearing stones from the ground ready for cultivation.
The tractors with metal spiked wheels could not be driven on the roads so had to be transported to the farms from the depot on the back of a trailer towed by a tractor with rubber tyres. Behind this trailer the tractor also towed a fuel trailer, and at harvest time, a reaper/binder as well, making a very long and difficult outfit to drive. The Land Girls who drove these were referred to as flyer drivers. Gates were often too narrow to accommodate the machinery and gateposts had to be removed.
Ploughing competitions were organised to provide some interest and test skill. In one such competition in 1944, Dora Varley (nee Watson) won the Land Army Employees class at Aireville and went on to become the runner up at the county finals at Wetherby. Read Dora's wartime memories.
For land girls such as Veronica Fletcher (nee Fell) who lived either at home or on the farm where they worked, the day to day work was more general including milking, feeding and looking after stock and horses, but the contribution they all made to the running of the farms was immense and despite the hard work, most seemed to enjoy the complete change of lifestyle and the camaraderie. Read Veronica's wartime memories.
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