DATA BASE REF: A/F 1002
NOEL AND JOAN DARBY OF MANOR FARM, MARHOLM nr PETERBOROUGH
Noel and Joan Darby farm at Manor Farm, Marholm and Marholm Farm, Marholm Nr Peterborough, which they farm as one farm. Noel’s sister Betty Scott lives in Marholm Farmhouse. The Darbys have lived at Castor for some centuries.
Noel’s grandfather, John Thomas Darby (died 1912) farmed at Castor, living in the farmhouse now known as Church View. He then went to Marholm Farm, leaving his eldest son Jack at Castor “Church View”
John Thomas Darby m Louisa Rowe of Guernsey
Farmer at Castor “Church View”
Elfreda Jack Thomas m Eleanor Laurie Cecil Gerald Leo Margery Olive
m. Darby Rowe Darby Wagstaff Darby Darby Darby Darby
Dalton of Castor 1874-1935 Farmed priest/ farmer
Marholm “Church View” Farmed at at Marholm teacher at Paston
Farm Elton then Farm
Marholm Farm 1912-1928
George Roy Betty Noel Darby m Joan Thacker Kathleen Thomas Pamela Peggy Joseph Monica m James
Darby Darby Farms at Marholm Farm Darby Darby Pollard
And Manor Farm Marholm
Farms Associated with the Darbys:
John Thomas Darby, who died in 1912 farmed in Castor, the farmhouse there now known as Church View, as a tenant of the Church Commissioners. He handed over this farm to his eldest son Jack Darby, and took the tenancy of Marholm Farm, which belongs to Milton Estates. From 1912-1928 John Thomas Darby’s son Laurie Darby farmed Marholm Farm.
Meanwhile Thomas Rowe Darby, (1874-1935) father of Noel Darby, farmed Priory Farm at Elton, one of the Earl of Caryfoot’s farms. He took over this farm on 30th October 1908 for a rent of £1 per acre. All his children were born at Elton, and when Noel was 6 years old, the family moved to Marholm, to take over Marholm Farm on 19th April 1928, again for £1 per acre. When Thomas Rowe Darby died his wife Eleanor nee Wagstaff took over the tenancy of Marholm Farm, helped by her eldest son Roy.
Noel joined the Royal Navy, but came out to help his mother run the farm at his brother’s early death. Eleanor Darby was also Churchwarden at St Mary the Virgin at Marholm for 50 years. Noel and Joan also took on the tenancy of Manor Farm Marholm, and moved into Manor Farmhouse in 1969.
Farming at Manor Farm and Marholm Farm, Marholm
Marholm Farmhouse has a date-stone of 1633, but is essentially late 17th century (Pevsner). Manor Farmhouse is originally older than this but was considerably extended in the 18th century. In the old days lots of the men working on the farm lived in the house and were fed from it.
A Mr Manns had Marholm Farm before Noel’s grandfather. The Waterworths had Manor farm before Noel, and before them the Sharpes, and before them the Daltons, one of whom married a Darby girl and set up in Canada.
In 1926 the Waterworths had 100 cows at Manor Farm. They took over Poplar Farm in 1926, previously farmed by a Sharpe and before that Hart.
The Darbys used to have 80 milking cows and a dairy, and 20 sucklings. In 1968, they gave up cattle, because the land at Bretton was taken for development. (They had 400 acres at Walton). When the cows were outside they were brought in at half-past-five in the morning, and milking would start at 6am. Afternoon milking would start about 3pm to half past. At night the cows were turned out close to. They stopped pigs in the 1960s, and stopped keeping hens, which Betty Andrews looked after, in the 1970s.
Until 1950, most of the work was still done by horses. You could not easily get tractors during the war. They got a Ford tractor in 1942, after which horses were then only used for harrowing, pulling carts, muck-carting, rolling but not ploughing. The tractor was used for ploughing and binding. Before the war they had 8 working horses and 4 growing up. By the end of the war they still had 4-6 horses. The horses worked very hard. It was a hard life for men and horses. Three horses pulled a two-furrow plough, and two horses pulled a single furrow. One furrow was 9” wide and 6” deep. At one stage they hired steam ploughs towed by a wire rope from contractors who lived in caravans during the work. The biggest problem was carting water and coal to the steam ploughs. It was still a full-time job for two men.
Men would sometimes have to carry sacks weighing two hundredweight from the threshing machine to the store or up a ladder onto a wagon. Noel’s father was 6ft 6” tall, weighed 18 stone and would take part in a race from Castor to Marholm carrying a sack of barley.
Most of the produce from the farms was despatched by rail. Wagons pulled by horses carted the stuff to Helpston Station. One could ring up the station for a railway truck and it would be there for you the next day. Fertilizer and coal was brought in the same way.
The Waterworths had their first combine in 1943/44. Noel Darby had his first combine, a Massey Ferguson, in 1950.
In the late 1940s they employed 6 men and a student on 300 acres. Now you have one man on 500 acres.
In 1969, Noel took up Charlie Neal’s land at Gatehouse Farm, down by the parish boundary beside the railway crossing.
Before all the various herbicides the crop fields used to be full of poppies, coltsfoot and thistles
These notes were made by W Burke talking to Noel and Joan Darby on 23 April 2002 – the Feast of St George- at Manor Farm Marholm