I have recently been reviewing a report of 1938 found in the Record Office about some of the properties then owned and rented out by the Hunter family of Beech Hill. They owned several farms, including two next door to each other – Sheepsbridge Court Farm and Body’s Farm. The Group recently had an enquiry about Body’s Farm and I can tell the enquirer that it consisted of 100 acres and 30 poles and was rented out for £88 per annum.
Body’s Farm had an attractive farmhouse and was in the hands of a young and hard working tenant, name unknown. The old cowshed was adapted from an old timber built corn barn. (This could have been the barn that was consumed by fire in the 1990s.)
Sheepsbridge farm was a dairy holding with some arable farming consisting of 222acres 2 roods and 4 poles with a rental of £244.15 shillings (£244.75p). It had a modern cowshed but the rest of the buildings were dilapidated and old. Much of the thatch roofing required renewing. The Hunters considered selling this but finding another farm for the tenant made it unviable. As an alternative the holding could have been put to Body’s next door. If sold the farm would have to realise £4275 in order to obtain an income of £150 per annum from the invested proceeds.
White House Farm was described as an attractive holding and that negotiations were afoot for the transfer of the tenancy. Milk production accommodation was not good and the present tenant erected his own bale (a portable dairy house built on wheels or skids).
Two other farms were at Beech Hill but one of the smaller holdings was a pair of semis in Kiln Lane. This is my home now and the report says that they are old and the brickwork perished. Obviously damp despite a partial insertion of a damp course and many roof timbers appeared to have perished. From a superficial inspection the report said that further expenditure should not be made to render them habitable. In fact the Local Authority might take action under the Housing Act of 1935 but the cost of carrying out their requirements would render the scheme uneconomical, despite one of them being occupied.
The report goes on to say that all rents were paid up to date and the tenants appeared to be satisfied. All the estates were largely agricultural but Sheepsbridge Farm was wholly agricultural. Proposals were made to build on Body’s Farm to a density of 4 houses per acre, and Whitehouse Farm only, including the allotments, to a density of 6 per acre. The allotments became Diana Close in 1997 but the farm was restricted by the Planning Inspectorate which allowed Warren Croft to be developed in recent years. Body’s Farm has not been developed.