One of my new year’s resolutions is to research a few topics that I have wanted to investigate for a while but haven’t got round to exploring before. Today’s blog post is a step towards that goal.
Many months ago, I ended a post about a house called Forty Hall by saying that I hoped to write more about the property and some of the people who had lived there. Knowing that the site includes a farm, I decided to see what I could learn from the records of the National Farm Survey of 1941-1943.
During the Second World War, food supplies from overseas were inevitably very limited. Farming and food production within the UK took on a renewed importance. Government information campaigns encouraging the public to make practical contributions to boosting food supplies used slogans such as ‘Dig for Victory’.
It was in this context that the National Farm Survey was carried out. The survey collected detailed data about the use of land in England and Wales for agriculture and animal husbandry. It covered all farms and market gardens larger than five acres (just over two hectares), a total of about 300,000 agricultural properties.
The information from the survey was originally used to plan for food production once the war had ended. From the outset, it was also intended to be preserved permanently as a public record, comparable in scope to the famous Domesday Book. Today, the records remain a useful and interesting source for researching the people, places and landscape of mid 20th-century England and Wales.