1920 Wexcombe innovation centre for Agricultural inventions
Like many leads for manufacturers long since gone, the e-mail inquiry enclosed a photo and a request for information about a hut that survived to live another day. Little did we know what an industrious past that Arthur Hosier and his brother had contributed to the Wiltshire region.
The plate read: HOSIER INVENTIONS LTD WEXCOMBE, MARLBOUGH, WILTS OPEN AIR MILKING MACHINES PATENT Nos 304361 303914 298893 1589733 19801 RAS SILVER MEDALS 1928 1929 1934
After searching Wiltshire county council archives we found the following: “Arthur came to Wexcombe in 1920, when he purchased the estate with his brother. It was derelict and depressed; on the downland, the animal population consisted predominantly of rabbits, with a few sheep to keep them company”.
In common with many others at the time it seemed that Hosier wished to turn his land over to dairy pasture, but according to records “was deterred by the difficulty (common on the chalkland) that all his farm buildings lay in the village, at one corner of the holding, which made it impracticable to pasture a milking herd on much of the farm”. The portable bail, which enabled cows to be milked in remote locations without the expense of permanent buildings, was his response to this problem, and it revolutionized dairy farming between the wars. Indeed Rex Munroe OBE, an Agricultural pioneer himself helped popularize the invention which he used on his own Hampshire farm from 1928. The cows were kept out all year and milked in ‘bails’, or mobile milking parlours, and this offered a very cheap way of starting up a dairy herd.
For a detailed overview of the rationale behind the invention, have a look at an address to a meeting of The Farmers’ Club held at The Surveyors’ Institution, on the 31st October, 1927 and given by Mr AJ Hosier himself. The event was reported in the Journal of the Farmers’ Club, in November 1927 and a transcript appears on the following link http://www.journeytoforever.org/farm_library/medtest/medtest_hosier.html
The bail was one of many pieces of equipment invented by Mr Hosier (who lived until 1963), with the result that as well as being a large working farm, Wexcombe became an innovation centre and test-bed for new ideas, a showpiece for demonstrating innovations, and a manufacturing centre for agricultural equipment. In common with many other manufacturers little remains today, and it is perhaps sad considering the ground-breaking technologies developed here that the farmland around Wexcombe now is almost entirely arable, lacking the dairy herds that galvanized so many of Arthur’s inventions. The hamlet, which lies off the road consists of two farmhouses and farm complexes, and a number of cottages. A Victorian village pump survives as well as a round brick pumphouse of 1899 is a notable landmark for motorists travelling north along Fair Mile road.
One of Hosier’s inventions, a photo submitted by the huts owner in order to try and find more about the manufacturer and possible history of the hut. What first appears to be a large 3-wheel Shepherd hut, is in fact the portable housing which contained equipment including a Lister engine to power the portable milking parlour.