Edwardian Farm

While I've enjoyed the BBC2 series on the Edwardian Farm re-enactment at Morwellham Quay, I didn't find it so satisfying as the Victorian Farm series set at Acton Scott. I feel they tried to cover too much, and got sidetracked into largely irrelevant areas such as boats and mining. There also seemed to be several anachronisms. Surely no country blacksmith of that epoch, no matter how remote, would attempt to product iron by first burning charcoal, then melting locally-found iron ore in a scratch-built furnace to produce a bloom of spongy metal? The transition from an ingot to the ironwork for the weathercock was very quickly glossed over. The tractor (IH "Mogul") and engine (Lister A?), shown as the shape of modernisation at the fete in last night's final episode, are surely post-Edwardian: WW1 and 1920's products respectively? Regards, Richard Thursday 20/01/2011, 10:06

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Richard Green
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I was only watching it for the boats!

Yes, but it was stil an interesting 'overview' methinks? I have had a fair interest in industrial archaeology for most of my life but it was the first time I had seen some of these things even attempted.

Chris D

Reply to
Chris N Deuchar

They might still produce high-carbon blister steel from iron on a per- forge basis, but not iron from ore. That had already gone out in the medieval period, in favour of dedicated smelters and trading the pigs of iron around regionally.

Interestingly though, this still a traditional practice in Japan for high-end swordmaking, using the traditional tatara - a tiny furnace, built from scratch for each blow. The difference is in the iron ore. If you're using bog iron (effectively impossible to find these days), it's a practical way to do it.

Bog iron _can_ be found on Welsh hillsides, by hunting for bits of abandoned wrought iron mine kit that has spent a few decades lying underwater in anoxic peat bogs. A few reenactors have used this as a source for recreation.

Reply to
Andy Dingley

Certainly an enjoyable program, the Mogul tractor sounded great and looked the part irrespective of it's actual age (upon which I'm not well informed enough to comment). I did think they could have done better than the little Lister Junior though. As for the iron smelting, I recall being suprised on another program (Landscape detective?) to learn that the Wealden iron industry continued into the 19th century and that must surely have been the last bastion of rural production.


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On another more Viking issue, I am seeing the Edwardian Farm Director on Monday! I'll raise the anachronistic issues viz a viz engines, but I thought the Mogul was OK but surely the Lister Junior was post First War?

I'm not surprised they only got a bitty bloom as they put no limestone in the smelter. Never get the bloom hot enough without it. Frankly, I'm surprised it went as well as it did. It was of curiosity only I'm sure and did look as though they had some budget left over - like that stunning copper cockerel.

Bog iron is no good for tools or weapons but does flat out nicely into plates for pots etc. It is the only practical source of iron in Ireland in the Dark Ages and their swords, axes etc were notably worse than those that the nasty incomers carried at their hip!


Kim Siddorn

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Was it a Mogul 10-20? Only reason being I saw a pea-green one of those at a show a few years ago and wondered if it was the same one.

I think the earliest tractors that weren't steam-powered were in the late

1800's, so by the Edwardian period there must have been a few petrol ones around (not sure about diesel though, those perhaps came later?)



Reply to
Jules Richardson

I never expect such programmes to be totally factually correct, they are after all made for the entertainment of a diverse public. If that part of the programme is to be believed, the boats and mining which were included were an essential part of farm-life in that area and era, thus fully justified in being included. As a lad I remember a local traditional blacksmith (late 1950s, Staffordshire) explaining to an interested group of lads, how to get iron from iron ore in a way that oozed personal knowledge and was not disimilar to that shown in the programme. Peter

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