The fascinating history of Wash farm explained

Farm walk at Proctors Lighthouse Farm.
Farm walk at Proctors Lighthouse Farm.

A beautiful evening on the Wash greeted members of the NFU South Holland Branch when they attended the annual Farm Walk.

This year the event was hosted and organised by branch chairman Stafford Proctor of Proctor Bros at their Lighthouse Farm site.

Stafford and Julian Proctor with guests on farm trail.

Stafford and Julian Proctor with guests on farm trail.

A short quiz and presentation was organised prior to the walk by Adrian Jennings of Risk Management Services, highlighting the continued importance of farm safety.

Stafford and his farm manager Adrian Howell provided a commentary throughout the tour, explaining the cropping, technical innovations, environmental and historical features of the farm.

The farm, part of the Crown Estates, has been tenanted by the Proctor family since 1964 and in addition to extensive arable cropping of wheat, oil seed rape, potatoes, sugar beet and pulses, Stafford took pride in introducing members to his herd of Lincolnshire Reds.

Lying as it does adjacent to the estuary of the River Nene and with a northern coastal border directly on to the Wash, the history of the farm very much replicates the history of the Fens.

It was explained that the River Nene has only followed its current course since the 1820s when the present Nene Outfall was constructed partially using labour returning from the Napoleonic Wars.

The history of using military labour was continued when the 1917 bank was constructed using labour from German prisoners of war billeted at Sutton Bridge.

Subsequent banks were added in 1951 and 1974, each reclaiming further land enclosures and forming the farm as we see it today.

Given the proximity of the Wash and recent events such as the tidal surge in December 2013, it is no surprise that Stafford is a founder member of The Wash Frontage Group, a lobbying organisation seeking to raise the awareness of the need to improve coastal defences along the entire Wash frontage.

The evening concluded with county chairman Ian Stancer giving a vote of thanks to all concerned.