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1845: Drought hits Cuckfield

Admiral's Bridge, Sharpthorne 2005


The past year has been a trying one with the generality of farmers in this district, and the present aspect of affairs is by no means very promising. The falling-off in the crops of Lent corn last harvest is severely felt in a financial view, and the loss in the crops of roots is serious; the yield of hay was short, and second cut clover a complete failure. Wheat, however, turns out well; and although the straw was short, the yield is good, and but for this crop the farmer would have little to carry to market.

The long drought during the summer completely scorched up vegetation, and prevented many from fattening their usual quantity of bullocks, or forwarding them on the 'rowens' and the general miss in the crops of Swede turnips and mangel wurzel has caused many of the yards to be destitute during the winter of their usual quantum of fatting stock, and even where beast have been kept up, it has been at an unusual outlay in artificial feed, which takes off the gilt, and leaves the farmer minus of his rate of profit.

The season for wheat sowing was, however, a propitious one, and the land was prepared in fine condition to receive the seed; and the young wheats are looking strong and healthy, and have been generally free from vermin. Young seeds have in a great number of instances missed, or come up thin and weakly; but those which have stood the drought were much improved in appearance previous to the late frost.

The fine, dry, frosty weather we have had has rendered the fallow ground which it broken up friable and porous, and will help to facilitate the operations of the farmer to a great extent, as well as improve the condition of the land designed for spring crops.

The market prices of grain have not been near an equivalent to the expenses of the farmer in raising his crops, and the slackness of the demand has been commensurate with the slowness of the prices, so that there is much truth in the cry of distress which has been raised; but we are sorry to see a spirit discontent among many with the present Government, upon which they seem inclined to lay the whole onus of the evils they suffer …

Brighton Gazette, 2 January 1845

Admiral's Bridge, Sharpthorne 2005, Geograph images. Bridge and road normally submerged beneath Weir Wood Reservoir, so very rarely visible. Wikimedia public domain image.

Contributed by Malcolm Davison.



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