Lower Newham Farm buildings

A look at Higher Newham's History

This is the story of 92 acres of farmland, straddling the ancient parishes of Kenwyn and Kea, on the Southern slopes of the Truro Bowl. The land at Higher Newham has been farmed for centuries and once spread all the way down the river at Lower Newham, where the industrial estate now lives.

So the village of Newham isn’t new. It's as old as the hills. In medieval times, the Bodrugan clan protected their lands fiercely, with help from the Tanners who worked at the riverside on the edge of the estate. By the 1800's the land had passed to the Vivian family - Lord Vivian, had a dozen tenants, each with a few fields to their name. And lovely names they were too: Homer Field, Calf Close, Part of Ten Acres, Three Corner Field. We're bringing back these names, the fields they belonged to and the hedges that run between them.

In the 1850's Lord Vivian sold a strip of land at Newham to the West Cornwall Railway Company. Newham Station opened in 1855, ferrying passengers in and out of the city. Things began to slow in 1963 when it became a goods station only. During these times, the residents of Higher Newham Farm watched the freight trains coming and going into the station below them. The railway line was always linked to Newham Quay, which had for years been central to the thriving Port of Truro. The final train pulled out of Newham on 7th November 1971, and the tracks disappeared the following year, but not before one last renegade journey.

The Burleys have helped us string together the more recent past with warmth, wit and wisdom and we are able to share with you some of the more evocative moments in the history of the farm.

Thank you for sharing your memories and your photos Stephen and Sarah Burley.

Timeline

This is a brief timeline of significant events at Higher Newham along with some events in the wider Truro area that have had a bearing on Higher Newham.

1153

Truro granted Charter to hold their own Borough court, annual fairs, weekly markets and 'Infangenethef' (the right to hang thieves)

1216

The first record of the Mediaeval settlement of Newham. It was rapidly outgrown by Truro and by 1311 was regarded as a subsidiary hamlet

1400's

Newham was part of the Bodrugan family's extensive estate. Sir William Bodrugan himself lived at Newham

c1500

Newham belonged to the Trevanion family who sold it after 1800 to a Truro Merchant. He built Newham House within its park

1500's

Old St Mary's Church pulled down and new one built with Newham stone - this church later became Truro Cathedral

1700's

Truro's first tin smelting plant built at Newham

1793

The formation of the Cornwall Agricultural Society, July 31st. The first event organised by the newly formed Society was a ploughing match to be staged in Truro, at the Red Lion

1800's

The land at Newham passed to the Vivian family - Lord Vivian, had a dozen tenants

c1800

Lemon Street built with Newham stone (a cut above the cheaper Bath stone used to build The Mansion House in Princes street) to create the first evidence of town planning in Cornwall

1840

Tithe map shows earliest evidence of Higher Newham Farm with 1 room-deep plan and farm buildings to the south

1840 Tithe Map

Courtesy of Cornwall Records Office. Catalogue number X293/17

1850

Lord Vivian sold a strip of land at Newham to the West Cornwall Railway Company.

1855

Newham Station opened and passenger services began

1875

The Royal Cornwall Show was held at Newham Farm, 24,212 people attended the show, it set a new attendance record and because of this, discussions began about extending the show from two to three days

Royal Cornwall show

Courtesy of The Royal Cornwall Agricultural Association

1878

First written record of Newham Quarry as'formerly worked'

1880
1880 OS map
1886

John Cooper Furniss began baking biscuits in his Truro Teashop. Furniss Foods was born

1906

National Grid Map shows leveling revised to mark Higher Newham Farm at 200m above sea level

1908

The County Farms Service was established, with the Council beginning to acquire agricultural property to create small holdings

c1920

Deed of Sale

Courtesy of Cornwall Records Office. Catalogue number DD/H/263/3

"The Farms consist of rich Pasture and some Arable, quite close to the City of Truro, are very desirable as Dairy or Accommodation Land, and have a prospective value as Building Sites.

The Reversions are, in the main, to exceptionally valuable residences, in one of the best residential quarters of the City, and offer a splendid opportunity for permanent and far sighted investment.

The riverside reversions, in the probable event of the Railway and Port developments, would appear to be of considerable value."

1933

The Milk Marketing Board was established to control milk production and distribution in the United Kingdom. Since the Milk Marketing Board coordinated the collection of milk from farms across the country there was no longer such a need to deliver milk direct to homes from farms. William Henry Burley (grandfather) had had a milk round and was helped by his 4 children before they went to school. But eventually he stopped delivering - the Milk Marketing Board would pick up the milk churns from the end of the lane instead.

1936
1936 OS map
1939

World War II begins. During the war Lower Newham Farm becomes home to the Land Girls and an evacuee – Gordon Eden

1939 Land Girl

Photo courtesy of Stephen and Sarah Burley

1942

Lower Newham

Lower Newham

Photo courtesy of Stephen and Sarah Burley

1943

The Burley family bought Higher Newham Farmhouse – William Henry Burley and his new wife moved into the farmhouse as their marital home, bought for them by William Henry's parents – they went onto have 2 sons, Trevor and Stephen. The grandparents remained down at Lower Newham in the house they called 'Riverview'. The family continued to farm the land, having both sheep and dairy as well as beef cattle in later years.

Higher Newham Farmhouse

Photo courtesy of Stephen and Sarah Burley

1950's

A young Stephen Burley began keeping his own livestock, starting with his first Charolais calf and moving onto prize pigs

Stephen Burley

Photo courtesy of Stephen and Sarah Burley

1952

The farm cottage was built for a farm worker, Alfie, then Reggie Thomas had it. Reggie was at the farm for 12 years, until Stephen Burley was 15.

1971

The final goods train leaves Newham Station.The old railway line forms part of the SUSTRANS cycle network today

1975

Morlaix Avenue Bypass was built, splitting Higher Newham Farm in two. Moving livestock became something of a challenge – taking it from one side of the road to the other required a police escort.

1983

Duchy College set up to offer land based courses, leasing from The Duchy of Cornwall.

1983

The Courage Shire Horses used to stop overnight at Higher Newham Farm "The brewery kept a pair or two of horses and a beer wagon and they would rest overnight at the farm, they were big horses, they would be stabled at the farm. I remember one of them wouldn't load back into the lorry, they had to blindfold it and walk it round and round before it went in". Stephen Burley.

Shire horses

Photo of Stephen and his parents with the Shire Horses

Photo courtesy of Stephen and Sarah Burley

1990

The Great Storm "When I was 7 months pregnant with Caroline we had the first big storm, it was horrendous, there was water streaming into the gable end of the farm house, we were losing some sections of the roof. At that time we had another barn, it wasn't full and the wind got in under the roof and lifted it right up. It was dragged all along the roofs of the single storey buildings on the farm and split in half. Half of it went into the electric cables, it pulled the cables out of the meter box in the house, the live wire landed on top of the shed of bullocks. Stephen was scared to go into the shed and look, we thought they would be dead. But they were alright, it took all of June to clean it up. All Grandpa said was ‘the greenhouse is still alright'". Sarah Burley

1999

Truro Farmers Market was established to bring local produce into the heart of the City every week. Beginning at Tinners Yard it later moved onto Lemon Quay – its current home

2000

Higher Newham Farm Dairy herd is sold

2009

LXB Retail was contracted by the then owners of Higher Newham Farm to submit an application for 1050 homes and a new relief road on Higher Newham and adjoining Calenick Farm. This was refused by the local council, but the Planning Inspector at the subsequent inquiry found in favour of the application. This recommendation was in turn not accepted by Eric Pickles, the Minister in charge of the Department of Communities and Local Government.

2010

Cornwall Food and Drink launch with their first Festival (September) and their tireless work to get more of Cornwall’s Food and Drink producers on the map begins

2011

The LXB Group acquired Living Villages, which had built an award-winning sustainable village development called The Wintles at Bishops Castle in Shropshire.

2012

Living Villages was able to acquire Higher Newham Farm, allowing it the freedom to pursue a radical new approach to the site

2014

A groundbreaking partnership was formed between Living Villages, Duchy College and Cornwall Food Foundation. A proposal was developed to breathe life back into Higher Newham Farm, based around an educational community farm with a village at its heart

2014
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