Happy days ‘tater spinning’ down on Bedhampton farm – Nostalgia

Tater picking at Forty Acres, Bedhampton. Chris Trotter tells us what is occurring.
Tater picking at Forty Acres, Bedhampton. Chris Trotter tells us what is occurring.
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Last month I published this lovely photograph of people potato picking at what I thought might be Bedhampton. I asked what the machinery was and received a superb reply from Chris Trotter of East Lodge Farm.

Chris writes: 'The machine behind the tractor is a 'potato spinner' or more accurately to us ’tater spinner’. 

Lumps' Fort in 1955.

Lumps' Fort in 1955.

'I believe the particular machine is a Bamlett, though it could have been a Massey Harris. The tractor is, I think, an early Fordson and is on 'spade lug wheels' not rubber tyres.

It took a lot of pulling as it was not only necessarily heavy but ground-engaging as well. The wheels are also spade lug. This is because the mechanism was driven by the wheels’ rotation.

‘The lever behind the driver was used to raise and lower the share so as you moved forward the share, or blade, passed under the ridge of potatoes lifting and loosening it so the spinner wheel at the back could throw the soil and potatoes to the right spreading them on the surface to be picked. The rope engaged and disengaged the mechanism. 

'The pipe just visible behind the driver’s head is the exhaust. The other vertical pipe is the engine air intake. The tractor was  powered by petrol until it was warm and then switched to tractor vaporising oil (paraffin) while working.

Sent from Australia by John Rich, his fathe, also John, is the trumpet player second from the left in the front row.

Sent from Australia by John Rich, his fathe, also John, is the trumpet player second from the left in the front row.

‘The potatoes were gathered in baskets then tipped into hessian sacks as seen on the trailer. Later they would have been weighed into 56lbs (half a hundredweight) or tipped loose into a clamp for storage.

'I believe it was at Forty Acre Farm, Bedhampton, looking north-east towards where the new development One Eight Zero now stands. What a shame  we have lost so much wonderful Grade One agricultural land and if I am right about the location the very scene of the photograph is now under threat.’

• Former Portsmouth man John Rich now lives in Australia and he sent me this photo of a dance band in the city towards the end of the Second World War. He has no more information so if anyone recognises a face, please let me know.

n Today we know Lumps’ Fort on Eastney Esplanade for its rose gardens and as can be seen in this photograph it was once much more open on the sea side. A little out of focus perhaps but the rose gardens are in the background with the front gate on the far left. The fort was named after Ralph Lumps, the owner of Lumps’ Farm.

• OnOctober 22, a service of remembrance will take place at the Nelson Monument on Portsdown Hill marking Trafalgar Day (October 21).  The monument is 200 yards east of Fort Nelson where there’s plenty of free parking.