Rural heritage shows changing face of Forest

August 1, 2014


Sopley Farm Miguel

FRUIT FEST: Miguel of Sopley Farm serves fresh punnets of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and other fruit picked for visitors to the show to purchase. The farm grows 20 different types of fruit and vegetables and their pick your own fruit there until the end of September. They regularly attend farmers markets and have a farm shop on site.



Rack Saw 2

CUTTING POINT: Some supporters of the Old Farming Farming corner put a Stenner and Gunn No 4 rack saw through its paces with a steam traction engine drawing power for it. It was originally manufactured in 1922 and has been used all its working life in the New Forest. It is fitted with a four feet six inch blade.


Threshing machine 1

BYGONE ERA: The six horse power expansion traction engine and threshing drum was left abandoned for years and was lovingly restored by Ken and Jill Honeybun and friends. It has been in working order since 1995 following a complete overhaul.


Threshing machine 2

BACK VIEW: The other side of the threshing drum at the farming history section of the show.


Susan Jenesen

FAMILIAR FACE: Landscape and pet portrait artist Susan Jenesen of Christchurch with some of her recent work. We met up previously when I covered the Christmas arts fair at Compton Acres, Parkstone, last November.


Pole climbing

SKY HIGH: The climbers ascending these poles are carefully strapped in. The poles are made out of Douglas Firs.  These trees were originally introduced in the 1850s and have thrived in the National Park. They take only 45 years to grow compared to the indigenous deciduous trees of the forest.


THOUSANDS of people attended this year’s New Forest Show and it was bathed in sunshine.

Exhibitors came from as far away as East Sussex, South Wales and Yorkshire with their animals, crafts, agricultural machinery, and other special items.

The first New Forest Show was held in 1921 as a one-day local event and not it is a buzzing three-day event spanning a large acreage near Brockenhurst and is Hampshire’s flagship event promoting rural life.

The Show Society, founded in 1920, has the following remit: “To promote and encourage the development of agriculture, forestry, equestrianism and horticulture in all their branches to improve and encourage the improvement in the breeding of stock.”

Show president Tim Jackson nominated Hampshire Country Learning to be his charity for the year as it provides opportunities for young people to experience the countryside.

Writing in this year’s show guide, he said: “The New Forest and Hampshire County Show has many traditional as heritage dimensions, but also reflects the changing use of the countryside in relation to leisure pursuit activities, including equine and many other sports activities.

“In terms of more traditional aspects of the countryside as far as farming as concerned, then there is lots to see in terms of the changing face of mechanisation, habitat management, plant and animal breeding.

“All of these factors shape our countryside and the New Forest exists as it does, because of human interaction with it.”

On the third day of the show, the heavy horses were busy in the Hoburne Ring with a horse in hand early in the morning followed by a championship and musical drive in the afternoon.

The afternoon also saw a parade of hounds, the Jamie Squibb Free Style Motor Cycle display and a sheep parade followed by a Old Time Farming parade and tug of war.

Amongst those I caught up with was animal and landscape artist Susan Jeneson of Christchurch. We previously met up at a Christmas art fair at the end of November 2013 in the Italian Villa of Compton Acres in Parkstone. Her pet portraits once again particularly drew much admiration at her stand at this year’s show.

I have not seen Alison Hawes, regional director of the Countryside Alliance for several years and we caught up to fill in the gaps when I dropped in their stand at the country sports section. Falconry, fishing and gundog displays were popular crowd pleasers.

Johnny Ball, who is the public face of the National Farmers Union education roadshow, was in town to educate the public about there food comes from. More about this will be dealt with this in a separate post.

Referred into the photograph was the Stenner and Gunn No 4 Rack Saw. The next door exhibit in the old farming area in the far corner of the show site was ‘Vectis’, an expansion traction engine and threshing drum.

Preservationist John Goulding and Nick Marshall of Beaminister found the ancient mechanical relic lying abandoned in a quarry and as far as they knew, it had been there for 20 years. The engine had also been left outside for 30 years and was in a poor state too.

It was eventually bought by Ken and Jill Honeybun of Lymington and its painstaking restoration eventually brought it back into working order in 1995.

It was dismantled and inspected and new work required for it included a new chimney, smoke box, axle and tender and a complete overhaul of all working parts.

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