Voices from past tell of shift in countryside life

Stacking hay at Skidby in the early to mid 20th century
First-hand accounts from the past shed light on countryside life [East Riding Museums Service]

Digital recordings of people who worked in the countryside during the first half of the 20th Century have been released by East Riding Archives.

More than 60 voices tell their stories about the Hull Blitz, how tractors led to the decline of horse-powered farming and how the Great Depression impacted the agricultural economy.

The first-hand accounts were all collected as part of the Skidby Mill Oral History Project, which was carried out in 1999 and 2000.

The recordings have been preserved by the East Riding Archives team and uploaded on the project's website.

The voices include Bob Leveridge’s, who was born in Skidby in 1928.

He did not like the "new" tractors.

“I used two horses, I’ve ploughed this field up and been up and down it no end of times doing it," he said in the recording.

"I tell you what, a tractor was a cold thing. You kept a lot of walking with horses but a tractor you were just sat there. By sometimes you used to be frozen.”

East Riding farm labourers’ early 20th century
East Riding farm labourers during the early 20th Century [East Riding Museums Service]

Heather Pritchett, who was born in Great Hatfield in 1927, recalled the day the village got its first telephone box.

“This was put on the Village Green in the centre of the village," she said.

"I remember it was quite fun to go and seemed as though I would use pennies to ring someone up in another village or something, but there weren’t many people had phones at all.”

The recordings include farmers, domestic servants and windmill workers during a time when many changes occurred.

Olivia Northrop, from the project, said that advancements during that time completely transformed the way of life for many rural communities.

Ms Northrop said: “These recorded memories are all presented by the people who lived through it all with humour, gumption and skill.”

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