The conference got underway at 9.15am at Downham Village Hall with a wonderful talk by Joan Grundy about the development of dairy farming in Lancashire from the 17th to 20th centuries and how history impacted on the design of cow sheds and cattle stalls. Joan gave us a real insight into how barns and cowsheds actually worked and how they grew steadily larger. Nigel Neil then showed us the wide range of barn types found in the county from his varied recording work over many years. Finally, Ralph Assheton gave us an important insight into the challenges of managing a large estate in a sensitive manner and how conservation and planning legislation often works against those who care most for the historic environment.
Enriched by all this information and experience we set off in the coach to Downham Hall and the adjacent Home Farm, arriving at its historic courtyard of buildings, including a seventeenth century aisled barn. The Hall had separatly located stables and coach house of 1857.
After lunch, we embarked on a farm buildings trip of the Downham Hall estate visiting a wide range of farms of differing types and dates. Highlights were the pretty Clay House and Barn of 1839, the incredibly tall Gerna Farm barn of 1844 and the New Close Farm field barn with its perfect nineteenth century cattle stalls. See the photos.
There were many other farms – too many to list – as well as two corn mills, one of which had been converted into a textile mill before becoming a farm complex. A great day ended with the HFBG Annual General Meeting.