Sunday, 14 February 2010

Eyecatching Model

Sharp-eyed viewers will probably recognise these buildings from a painting in Unmitigated England. They are without doubt my favourite model farm buildings, a mid-19th century group that, along with stables and a half-submerged church, form all that remains of the Normanton estate in Rutland. St.Matthews is now marooned like a baroque lighthouse on nearby Rutland Water, but for all the cycling, walking and messing about in boats going on so near, hardly anybody appears to come down a little lane opposite one of the main, very expensive, car parks. Normanton Lodge farm comes into view from behind a couple of modern barns (that's their shadow in the foreground) on a bend in the road winding across to Empingham. For a long time there was a bright red portable water tank on tracks in the foreground, and it's there in my watercolour. But on Thursday I took advantage of an extremely cold but bright afternoon to do some preliminary work on a future project, and of course I came straight down here to find that much of the detritus in front of the buildings had been cleared away. Snap. Snap. The big house was demolished in 1925, but it doesn't take much imagination to still feel the presence of many farm workers going about their agrarian business in stone built barns, workshops and stockyards. I imagine the chimney had something to do with steam, probably to drive machinery like a sawmill. And somewhere to get warm on a frosty morning.


Philip Wilkinson said...

I feel I'm getting to know these buildings from your painting and photographs of them. Presumably the steam engine could also have powered a threshing machine? Although of course normally this wouldn't have been powered by a stationary engine.

Peter Ashley said...

I've thought about this Philip, and I really do have to research the buildings a bit more diligently. Rather than just photographing and surmising.

office pest said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
office pest said...

Link didn't work so let's try again.

Peter, Philip, page 10, column 2 and thereabouts of the following link gives some insights, citing stationary engines for pumping, threshing, chaffing etc.

I expect steam hammers, woodcutters and general mending using power to cut and shape wood & metal were also in play. Powered bellows for the forge and so on.

Steam on the Farm: A History of Agricultural Steam Engines 1800 to 1950
by Jonathan Brown

Amazon links:

I haven't bought the book but it looks like I might have to.


Peter Ashley said...

Thankyou Office Pest for the info. A fascinating area, steam on the farm.

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