Ashtree Farm was off Oxbridge Lane accessed by a lane between Raby Road and the Ashmores recreational ground. My family had owned the farm after moving from The Grange Farm. Ashtree farm comprised of a strip of land which ran between the back gardens of Raby Road houses and Ashmores and Grangefield School with a farm house and out buildings and stables at the top of the lane. There was a cottage halfway up the lane which was originally a market garden, not to be confused with Dixon’s market garden which was on the other side of Ashmores path.
My Grandparents, who owned the farm, had purchased the cottage with some land bordering Oxbridge Lane. My Grandmother eventually moving into the cottage when my father took over the farm. It was originally a dairy farm with a small herd of cows which grazed on land that was compulsory purchased and became part of Grangefield school and then on land that was on the other side of the Cuckoo railway at the top of Grosvenor Road. There was a strip of land that ran between Ashmores playing field and Grangefield and a bridge over the railway where we would walk the cows in for milking. Milk was pasteurised in a small dairy on the farm, hand bottled and delivered to surrounding houses by horse and cart. The herd eventual having to be sold off in the late 50’s when the owner of the land on the other side of the railway, a Mrs Fenney, sold the land to the council.
We continued with the milk business now motorised and buying milk in from Northern Dairy’s and went into pig farming this continued until the early 70’s when the farm was sold after the death of my father. My mother not wanting to continue with the farm and moving into the cottage down the lane. The first photograph of the horse and cart was taken in the farm yard with stables at Ashtree. In the second photograph my father is on the right and I believe the man on the left was a German prisoner of War that was seconded to work on the farm during the Second World War, the third photograph shows my father at the wheel of the old Lanchester.
Photographs and details courtesy of Stuart Kidd.
As can be seen, Holme House Farm was still in its original condition, surrounded by fields. This view is taken from somewhere near the Rocks Field in Portrack. I know for certain that the crops included potatoes and barley.
During potato picking week, which was a half term, a the end of October, infuriatingly just before Bonfire night, older working class kids and young men, from Tilery, Portrack and Swainby Road, lined up near Blackett’s bridge over the beck to be chosen for a day’s potato picking by the farmer. Only the stronger and rougher looking types would get a job. I tried a couple of times without success.
Photograph and details courtesy of Fred Starr.
These photographs were taken as part of a short cycle ride from Portrack in which I was intent in finding out what the countryside was like behind Haverton Hill. The building in the first photograph was just off the end of Cowpen Bewley Road, where it runs into Cowpen Bewley Lane.
I did this ride without maps, but recollect crossing the line of the Stockton to Hartlepool railway, so perhaps some of the photographs have been taken off Wolveston Back Lane… I would guess that with the massive development and land drainage in this area, some of the farm buildings have disappeared. Perhaps Stocktonians can help?
It must have been a difficult are to farm as the land was low lying and the pollution from ICI could not have helped. The farmland looked very bleak compared to that around Portrack and Norton.
Photographs and details courtesy of Fred Starr.