PROGRESS IN THE NORTH Combating " Destruction to Moral and Physical Forces"
The remarkable progress made in connection with the scheme organising the production of foodstuffs and other necessities by groups of unemployed men, since the experiment was started in Upholland two years ago, is revealed in the latest illustrated booklet issued by the Order of Friends, who organised the scheme.
The project came into being through the realisation that " the more prolonged the unemployment, the more destruction is done to a man's moral and physical resources," and also that there are thousands of men in the prime of life for whom there is no prospect of employment in their normal occupations.
To Catholics the scheme is most interesting in view of the kindred scheme under the auspices of the Liverpool and North of England Catholic Land Association with its training farm at Priors Wood Hall, Parbold, not far from the Order of Friends establishment at Upholland.
Lord Nuffield's £30,000 In view of the initial success, in the autumn of 1934 the Order of Friends felt justified in developing a subsistence production scheme applied to large bodies of men. A gift of £30,000 from Lord Nuffield together with other gifts made it possible to plan two units for 500 men each. It was decided to establish one group round Upholland while a part of eastern Monmouthshire valley was chosen for the other centre.
Each unit was to have its central farm where pigs would be reared, meat killed, and from which milk could be disttibuted to the homes of the men. Plots similar to Upholland would be used for farming and poultry-keeping, while central workshops would enable various trades to be carried out.
Many handicaps and considerable opposition had to be overcome before the bigger acheines ciauld be embarked on, but since November, 1934, several hundred men have been given useful occupation through subsistence prod,uction. In the Wigan district there are now five groups at work.
Parbold Parbold Hall, a historic farm bf 300 acres, where long ago Benedictine monks formed a farming community, has become an up-to-date dairy farm and the headquarters of the Lancashire scheme.
At Upholland the original plot has been increased and now finds occupation for fifty men.
At Billinge a plot of eighteen acres, with a tomato house and a Danish pig-sty, gives work to nearly forty men, while at Pemberton some sixty men are at present employed.
Recently premises suitable for the wider development of the workshop side of the scheme were obtained in Ashfield House, Standish, and it is expected that 300 men will be able to find employment there.
All this goes to prove that " Back to the Land " is not a parrot cry but a policy well worthy of consideration on a substantial scale by the Government. The Order of Friends have accomplished much but as they point out in their booklet, thanks to such generous patrons as Lord Nuffield.
Unsupported by Government
The Catholic Land Association on the other hand was, to commence with, practically dependent on the pennies of the poor and to this day the trainees are debarred from all forms of Government assistance such as unemployment benefit. Since then the training farm has been made a financial paying proposition.
The reference to Parbold Hall and its pre-Reformation farming Community gives us the opportunity to point out that the Catholic Land Association in neighbouring Priors Wood Hall are not only continuing the farming policy of ()Id but is also under the auspices of the Benedictines for the Warden of the Farm is, Dom Gregory Buisseret, O.S.B. The hall itself is of fifteenth century construction and has associations with penal times.