Lang, Anthony (b.1925)

Anthony Lang was a sheep farmer.  He exported sheep to the Continent for many years. Particularly his favourite breed, the Dorset Down.


Anthony Lang was actively involved with the Bath and West Agricultural Show since the 1960s.  He was a steward who organised and judged the sheep competition. He was also involved with the Royal Smithfield Show as a member of council, including being Chairman.

Sheep shearing at Park Farm, Wolvershill Hill, Banwell c.1920s. Sheep shearing at Park Farm, Wolvershill Hill, Banwell c.1920s.
Sound File
Listen to Anthony Lang - 1.35MB Duration 2:56 min.

AH: Have you any idea what sort of percentage of farmers in Somerset would keep sheep today?


AL: Oh, I wouldn’t know, dear, no.  Well, they’re kept in the most extraordinary places.  I mean you see enough in the middle of Sedgemoor now which fifteen, twenty years ago you wouldn’t see a sheep in the middle of Sedgemoor.


AH: Yes, I mean that’s something we’ve noticed.


AL: Yeah, they’re everywhere, they literally are everywhere.  I mean everybody’s got a few in their back garden, whereas at one time, you know, it was just, they were just really kept on the higher ground and everyone kept, particularly in this sort of area, on roots.


AH: How do they keep them on the lower ground now?  Is that to do with drainage?


AL: I suppose so.  You know, beef cattle aren’t doing very well, and the dairy farmers have had to cut back their cows so they’re all running a few more sheep.  Well everybody keeps sheep around the place now, it doesn’t matter where you live and that’s why I think probably, you know, we’re getting these tremendous classes at the Bath and West, you know, because a lot of us [] particularly the smaller breeds are hobby farming.


AH: Yes, well that’s developed, hasn’t it?


AL: It has.


AH: People are specialising in, well, the older breeds.


AL: Yep, yep.  I think we used to show at the Devon Counties, well we used to there, we were showing at the Devon Counties, had a chap took on by our shepherd, a young lad, he’s left us now.  Well, I think the last time we showed at the Devon Counties was about four years ago, and he came up and he told me that he and one other shepherd were the only two full-time shepherds actually exhibiting at Devon Counties.  All the rest were either, sort of, you know, occupied farmers, you know, farmers still part timing and all that sort of thing.  They had, they just weren’t employing full-time shepherds.


MG: You talked about your shepherd?


AL: Old Bill?


MG: Yes.  Did he start life as a shepherd?


AL: No, he didn’t actually.  No, he was a, his family always worked for the farm, you know, way back.  Well, I’ve got somewhere I’ve got photographs of his grandfather working on the farm.  He was always keen on sheep, he always mucked about with the sheep.  We always had a pedigree flock, you know, way back through the war.  He and I started this and he just went on from there, strength to strength.  I’ve got some old photographs actually of him, and he won all the major championships, Smithfield and carcass competitions, just went from strength to strength.  We used it as our shop window really to sell all these lambs and that’s how it happened.


Now we’re back to about thirty Dorsets, the boys, well I’ve got two boys farming on the farm, and they say they’ll keep a few Dorsets for old time’s sake, just to keep father happy and that’s what’s going on.  We’ve got about thirty of them actually and we’ve got about three hundred cross-breds which we cross with, oh, they’re not even using Dorsets now actually, even in Texels which is a continental breed because they’re producing leaner lamb.

Copyright Information
Copyright. This recording was made by Ann Heeley in Fenruary 1992. Photograph ©SRLM. For access to full interview please contact the Somerset Heritage Centre.