Baber, Walter (b.1904)
Walter Baber was born in 1904 and spent his life dairy farming in Chewton Mendip. The milking was done in the fields twice a day by Mrs Diamond, a local woman who milked the herd by hand. The Shorthorns and Friesians were milked at six o’clock in the morning and again in the evening. Like many Somerset dairy farmers in the last century, Mr Baber also made cheese and butter.
Ann Heeley interviewing Walter Baber, 1981. Ann Heeley interviewing Walter Baber, 1981.
Sound File
Listen to Walter Baber - 1.31MB Duration 2:51 min.

AH: What time did you start milking in the morning?

WB: Oh, six o’clock, but we had a wonderful woman who milked for us for years and years, who came from Litton, name of Mrs Diamond. She had a big family and her husband died when she were young and she used to milk for us for years. One of her sons did come of a Sunday morning or afternoon, that did work in the pits. He did come to save his mother. But after she did milk of a morning she’d come back to our place and did have a little bit of breakfast.


Then she did go charring and washing and when she did finish that, after dinner she would be sitting down knitting for her boys and go back milking again in the evening, and then back home.


She did that for years and years. Wonderful woman! And she always insisted we left a pail there, in the field, overnight for her, and a stool, and often times in the morning she would have a pail of milk milked out when we got there. She would get up there so early, walk to the field and she milked out a pail of milk. She was a wonderful woman.

AH: How far did she had to walk?

WB: Oh, she would have to walk two miles.

AH: She started early then?

WB: Yes, yes she was a wonderful woman. Years ago a lady, a cheese-maker was very proud of her bandages. All our bandages were made of, well thick material and they had eye-holes in them where they would be laced to and fro like ladies corsets, pull in tight around them you see, keep them in good shape.

AH: This went all the way round the outside?

WB: Yes, that’s right, round the outside of a hundredweight cheese. They would be more than a yard long or more and of course, when the dealer come to see them, he liked to see good edges and if they’re bandaged well on the top, if you are making these full vats all the time with your odds in truckles, you see all your bandages were absolutely the same, you see.


They looked like a regiment of soldiers, they looked beautiful. When the dealer do come to bore your cheese to have a look at them along the shelves they’re all of them looking exactly the same, all same height, all bandaged the same, it, it save the edges in turning. When you are pulling out these big cheeses on the shelves to turn them, if you weren’t careful to turn them you’d soon damage the edge and once you had damaged the edge, that would go all Blue Vinnied, you see, you wouldn’t do so well on the day of selling of it.

Copyright Information
Copyright. This recording was made by Ann Heeley in November 1989. Photograph ©SRLM. For access to full interview please contact the Somerset Heritage Centre.