Dr Helga Frankland lives in Ravenstonedale in the house where she was born in 1920. Her father was a professor of Chemistry before moving permanently to Cumbria for the sake of his health. He and her mother, Maude who was locally born, took up farming at ‘Needles’, a large estate.
Helga describes farming practise from the 30’s through to the 1960’s. She remembers the crucial times of haymaking and its value as a commodity. She tells of her work as a Land Girl during the war, when she worked the farm herself.
Dr Frankland recalls the shift towards crossbreeding the fell sheep to increase profit, in the difficult years after the war. She links the processes of increasing mechanization, use of fertilizers with the increase in numbers of sheep on the fells, and the subsequent loss of heather.
In 1959 Helga began working for the Nature Conservation Council and is also a founding member of Cumbria Wildlife Trust. From both a research and a managerial perspective Helga has taken an active and essential role in the way many of our ‘natural’ places have been protected and maintained.
“…everything you see depended on the only power you had, manpower and horsepower. So you literally couldn't do the sort of things that people do with tractors .... And the other thing that was a big change, consequent of tractors was the making of silage. Well you could make silage without tractors but it was not an easy thing to do and nobody round here did it. ... The other thing that they'd done with these tractors they were able to put on far more fertilizer, and ...well, fairly soon they got a lot more grass with far fewer herbs.”