During the second half of the nineteenth century the enormous increase in agricultural production, unmatched by technical advance in harvesting, drew vast numbers of rural and migrant workers into the harvest that lasted from June to October.
This book, first published in 1982, examines the technology, conditions and customs of the harvest and, through that, the life of the rural population of central England from the 1840s until the end of the century when hand tools finally gave way to mechanisation.
The economic framework of the period in agriculture is set out and there flows a detailed analysis of hand tools and work methods in the harvest. The population of harvesters, agricultural labourers and their entire families, townspeople and the gangs of migrant workers are studied, as are the crops they harvested.
Table of Contents
Editor’s Note; List of Abbreviations; 1. Low Farming to High 2. The Harvest Scene 3. Crops and Labour 4. Children’s Labour and Education 5. The Irish Harvesters 6. The Assessment of Harvest Earnings 7. Distribution and Methods of Harvest Payments 8. Social Discontent and Discord 9. Harvest Customs 10. Conclusion; Appendices; Glossary; Bibliography; Index