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Wooden Toy Farm

circa 1940

This little toy farm was made from scraps of wood during the Second World War by a family in Stalybridge. It is a lovely example of how people had to make do and mend during wartime, as materials were scarce. It also represents the important history of farming in Tameside.

Before the industrial revolution, farming dominated the Tameside landscape. There were small independent farms where farmers could choose which crops to grow and which livestock to rear. There were also open-field farms, where the large fields were divided into strips and shared out among several tenant farmers. They shared decisions about what crops to grow, and when to plant and harvest.

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the open fields and commons were ‘enclosed’ by the major farmers and landowners, and divided up amongst them. Many people lost what little land they had, and with it the right to pasture animals on the commons and wasteland. Many farmers supplemented their income by hand loom weaving or hatting.

Farming in Tameside declined steadily during the twentieth century. What farming remains is now concentrated in the upland areas of Tameside.