Hill, Froude (b.1899)

Froude Hill was born at Greenham near Wellington.  His parents moved to a farm called Farm Estate at Fiddington in 1908.  The first tractor arrived on the farm 1917. His father was only the second farmer in the locality to have a tractor, and older farmers were suspicious of the new technology.  Here is a description of the Titan from ‘Old Farm Tractors’ by Philip Wright:


‘The Titan was a very small traction engine minus its chimney.  In place of a smoke-box, there was a 32 gallon rounded water tank.  The Titan did not have a radiator; water was circulated through a pipe from the bottom of the water tank round the cylinders and back via an overhead return pipe.  The engine had a half-compression device for easy starting.’

International Harvester Titan 10-20 Tractor, 1917. International Harvester Titan 10-20 Tractor, 1917.
Sound File
Listen to Froude Hill - 1.94MB Duration 4:13 min.

AH: Did you have any other trouble with vermin?


FH: Yes foxes.  If we had any poultry out in the fields, the foxes would come and eat them.


AH: How did you cope with trying to keep them down?


FH: We kept the fowl shut in you see by night and but, they would come by day.  I remember that I was up sitting down on a Sunday afternoon, my sister ran out and said “There’s a fox at the fowls”!  I went down here and picked up a gun, I lost my shoes, and I ran right up across that field and he was chasing the fowls and I shot him.  Then you used, we could get strychnine in those days.  You would shoot a rabbit and where you knew there was cubs, put a little bit on each little rabbit and feed the cubs.


AH: So you got rid of the whole family?


FH: Yes our landlords weren’t hunting men.  Where they were hunting the farmer would lose his farm if they knew you did that.


AH: Did you ever do anything with pheasants?


FH: No, we used to try to look after the wild pheasants but we never reared any.  We had a lot of partridges in those days and we used to kill thirty brace on the first day partridge shooting and now there is none, because we grow the crops so thick now with all this wet weather we have just had it would drown all the little partridges.  I told you we grew clover once in six years and in there, there was a little aphid on the clover and the little partridges, the little partridges used to live on those.  Now there is nothing in the fields of wheat for them to eat.  The only place where we have got a lot of partridges here is all along by the coast.  At Hinkley Point there is some poor ground there and they have got partridges, but we have got none.


AH: When did you get your second tractor?


FH: So that we had two tractors.  [Pause] Not until after the '30s.  We had the Titan and then we had the 10-20 International, those were marvellous tractors.  Then we had a Fordson Major and a Minneapolis Molling.  We had those two tractors together and then we had a Marshall, a Field Marshall, and she used to go “bon bon bon”... they were marvellous tractors.  Then we went over to the Fergies.  You know, that Marshall would work all day on four gallons of fuel and do so much again as that little Fergie used to use four gallons and do half the work.  That was the first Ferguson.


AH: Another thing I would like you to tell me again is, what the elderly people said, when your father first got the tractor in Stogursey. I would like you to tell me again what the elderly people said.


FH: You won’t grow any corn if you plant with the tractor - that won’t be any good - and they really meant it!

Copyright Information
Copyright. This recording was made by Ann Heeley in 1980. Photograph ©Richard H Huelin @ www.tractordata.co.uk. For access to full interview please contact the Somerset Heritage Centre.