Category Archives: Agriculture

Cattle Droving through Cumbria 1600-1900 : Peter Roebuck Oct 2019

Peter Roebuck gave a superb talk on “Cattle Droving through Cumbria 1600-1900”.  He explained why they were driven (because they were too big to be carried), and their value.  Cattle provided materials for making leather, glue and tallow, as well as meat and dairy products.  Organised droving could only begin once reiving had been almost eliminated in the early 1600s.

Most cattle came from Galloway and were driven about 60-100 miles then sold on as most drovers only knew the routes, inns etc in their local area.   Strenuous days were followed by easy days to allow cattle to recover, and the outer parts of their hooves were shod.

During the C17 the trade was bolstered by supplying the armed forces who required beef rations for the men as well as huge quantities of shoe leather. The Navy carried live cattle. This booming trade helped businesses such as banks to be set up.  When an outbreak of Rinderpest broke out in 1745 it did not reach Cumberland so that even more cattle were sold from this area.

Cattle droving declined with the growth of canals and railways from 1850s onwards.

Catherine Bottomley

A Walk from High Newton to look for evidence of the Flax Industry

In July Pat Rowland and David Shore took 2 groups of members around the village and surrounding countryside to look for evidence of the Flax Industry that disappeared at the beginning of the 19thcentury.

The walk took them from High Newton, where the weaving sheds were located on the edge of the village, towards Barber Green. En-route, there were the retting ponds, one of which is used today to collect run off rainwater from the A590. Retting is the process where the harvested flax was immersed for 10-14 days.  In Barber Green we visited the engineered water-course that provided the power to the fulling mill, a place where the bleached cloth was beaten to flatten the fibres.  Then, just outside Barber Green, we looked at the fields where the flax was grown, and the amazing “consumption wall”, created from the process of clearing the fields. Afterwards we walked to Low Newton, viewing more retting ponds and engineered water course and to enjoy some afternoon refreshment.