A “NEWSPAPER of the soil” was the proud claim made in the first issue of farmers weekly published on June 22, 1934.
Totalling 58 pages and priced at two old pennies, our first edition began with a statement of editorial policy followed by sections headlined: Farming news from Parliament; News of the week; Show reports and pictures; Poultry; Readers” own ideas; Letters to the Editor; The Countrywoman; and Market reports (see page 60).
Our statement of editorial policy affirmed that farmers weekly was “a new and independent paper – a paper for the farmer and the producer”. The publication”s editorial coverage would be guided by one fundamental principle, it continued: “We want the highest possible production of food for our own people from British soil.”
Each week we devoted a full page to proceedings in the House of Commons, complete with sketches of MPs. Weather worries were a hot topic. Minister Sir Edward Hilton Young warned: “Unless unforeseeable rainfalls occur in the next few weeks, the water shortage in the countryside will increase in August and September.”
Articles in our first issue included: Cabinet”s new plans for the beef farmer and Stockbreeding at the crossroads. Advertisements in the early issues featured the McCormick and Deering horse and power drive binders and Bamford”s hay machinery.
A diet of political and technical articles was leavened by our Camera Cavalcade, Week-end wireless and The Countrywoman sections. Camera Cavalcade celebrated the invention of the camera 100 years previously.
Photographs in our first issue included a Fox Moth light aircraft from Sussex Aeroclub which landed in a field near Eastbourne to watch hay-making. There was also a poignant photograph of cannon balls littering the valley of the shadow of death in the Crimea after the Charge of the Light Brigade in 1854. The first editions of farmers weekly were published by Hutton, 43 Shoe Lane, London, which also published Picture Post.
The Countrywoman extolled the virtues of planting mulberry trees. One report from Norway was headed “Where men fish and women till the ground”.
After a week of farm labour, our Week-end wireless section provided a comprehensive guide to rural folk”s listening pleasure. For example, on Saturday June 29, weary farmers could relax listening to the Home Service”s broadcast of the County of Swansea Police Band at 7.50pm – provided hay-making was over.