MEMORY LANE: Picking spuds was ‘back-aching work’ in 1964

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CHILDREN today have too much money and they don’t know what hard work is.

It was a popular refrain in October 1964, and has been throughout the Mail’s 137-year history – and no doubt for centuries and millennia before that.

But farmers said they were having no problems finding eager youngsters for the traditional potato picking week.

The Mail sent a reporter out into the field (literally) to “find out the attractions of spending a week’s holiday in a permanent stooping position”.

At Hart Farm, near Hart Village, the youngsters started at 9am, finishing at 5pm, with two tea breaks and an hour for lunch.

Lunch was the best part of the day for many, said the Mail report: “The children find sitting in a barn or an open field, joking as they eat their lunch, very enjoyable.”

Linda Hardwick, 15, of Fordyce Road, West Hartlepool, told the paper: “It’s much better than mealtimes at home.”

She added: “It’s certainly hard work, my back aches a lot. Nevertheless I am enjoying it very much.”

Linda planned to spend the 15s (75p) she earned each day on clothes.

Although 75p doesn’t sound much for a day’s hard physical work outside in all weathers, W R Barker, one of the two brothers who ran the farm, said youngsters in 1964 had it easy.

He recalled that as a boy he would work on one farm until five, then go to help another farmer after tea – all for 1s 6d (7.5p) a day.

Linda Hardwick had already done several days at the farm, but two girls who were doing the job for the first time, Linda Grint and Elizabeth Thompson, of Back Middleton Road, West Hartlepool, thought it was great fun.

“It’s a smashing way to earn a little money,” said Linda.

There were as many girls as boys out on the farms, according to the Mail, and most of the girls wanted the money to buy clothes, while the boys’ reasons ranged from buying a new pair of football boots to a present for their mum.

The Mail concluded: “All agreed that working in the open air was a grand way to spend the holidays.”

Do you have any potato picking memories you would like to share with other readers?

Email or write to him at Hartlepool Mail, New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX.

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