ACCORDING to the original records of the Oswestry branch of the NFU, it was at one time known as the Oswestry Farmers’ Union or Association - and they were apparently amalgamated with Denbighshire at some time or another.

This would cover quite a large area. The uniting of the two districts was known as the Denbigh with Oswestry County Branch of the National Farmers Union. Meetings appear to have been held at Oswestry every month.

It all began more than 100 years ago. What a lot has happened in the world over that period of time! Two world wars with millions of lives lost and the dawn of the atomic weapon, not to mention the world of immense technological advances.

This earth, in my opinion, was a much more placid sort of environment a hundred years ago when Oswestry Farmers’ Association was founded. Many people would only have horses and carriages etc as a means of transport.

The motor car was still a very rare sight. Farmers would not enjoy the advantages of modern machinery.

They would have to employ many labourers and the work would be most arduous in all weathers. Producing food for the nation was extremely hard work.

There appears to be some interesting family connections occurring amongst the early presidents and officials of the Oswestry branch of the National Farmers Union.

Nevertheless, it is thought unlikely that this was a result of ‘back scratching’ but rather that those concerned were prominent local farmers who had an interest in public work.

The very first president, Edward Green, was born at Bank Farm, Pool Quay in 1844. When he married it was to Fanny Elizabeth, daughter of George Withers Edwards senior, of Woolston in 1871.

He farmed for a year or two at Buildwas before moving to The Moors, Pool Quay. At his death in 1916 he was described as the doyen of Montgomeryshire Agriculturists and one of the most successful breeders, exhibitors and judges of shire horses in the kingdom.

His noted sires included Potentate, Moors Zealot, Moors Thumper, Moors Regent and Moors Carbonate, which was purchased by Lord Rothschild. Others including Dunsmore Jameson sold for sums in excess of £1,000.

Following Lord Harlech’s one-year term of office the third president was Joseph Withers Edwards. He farmed Park Farm, Aston and then at Fox Hall before moving to The Hollies at West Felton. He was a brother-in-law of Edward Green.

The fourth president, John Scott Bickerton, farmed at Sandford Hall, West Felton and his wife, formerly Jessie Frank, was Edward Green’s niece. Her brother, John Wallace Frank, was the NFU’s chairman in 1929 and their sister Amy married George Birch Kempster, who was chairman in 1923. George was himself a nephew of Edward Green, his sister Margaret’s son.

Further, Edward Green’s first cousin, Thomas Ward Green (their fathers were brothers) became the fifth president of the Oswestry branch. He was born at Top Farm, Knockin in 1863 and farmed there with his father until he moved to The Wood, Maesbrook in 1902. For 39 of his 46 years as a member of Salop County Council he was either vice-chairman or chairman of the council’s Small Holdings Committee and played a prominent part in the acquisition and setting up of small holdings throughout the county. By the time of the Second World War these numbered 380 in Shropshire, farming 9,000 acres and supporting a population of 1,200. Mr Ward Green was a founder member and was elected a vice-president in 1912. He became an Alderman of the County Council becoming its chairman for 12 years.

When Oswestry Farmers’ Association was formed during the mid-1900s it began with John Richards of Llynclys. (Incidentally, John Richards was later to become the first vice-president of the NFU).

Mr Richards was very enthusiastic about horses and while attending the Shire Horse Show in London in 1907 he had a discussion with Colin Campbell from Lincolnshire. They talked about forming a farmers’ association in Oswestry. He contacted J Edwards of Fox Hall and J Scott Bickerton of Sandford Hall. The following Wednesday they met in the Smithfield.

1907 was also the year when other events were occurring in the world. There was a most serious situation in China for instance where literally millions of its inhabitants were starving for food and many thousands were suffering destitution wandering all over China.

Other events at this time were a violent earthquake in Kingston, Jamaica and civil unrest in Persia now known as Iran. (Centuries on and there are still problems in Iran).

On a much lighter note 1907 was the year that the concept of the basic wage was discussed in Australia and in the United States, paper cups were apparently introduced for the first time by a New York company.

Approximately one month later, a meeting was held in the office of William Whitfield. Attending this meeting were John Richards, J Edwards, J S Bickerton W Whitfield, T W Green, Edward Goff (father of the 1958 secretary) J Woodville, Bagley Hall, Richard Edwards, Cefnymaes, and J Lee Crumps. Taking notes/minutes of the meeting was Jim Whittaker who incidentally was a nephew of William Whitfield. (Unfortunately, a few years later Jim Whitaker was killed in the First World War). Following this meeting a decision was made to arrange a full meeting in Oswestry.

In 1908 the famous Hoover vacuum cleaner was made commercially available and also this was the year the Ford Motor company began producing the Model T motor car. General Motors was also formed.

Wednesday, September 23, 1908 was the time of the very first public meeting of farmers and the formation of the Oswestry and District Farmers’ Association. The venue for this memorable occasion was the Wynnstay Hotel, Oswestry.

Chairman of this meeting was Clive Bridgeman MP supported by Lord Harlech, William Whitfield (Whitfield and Rogers), F A Phillips (Hall, Wateridge and Owen), the Mayor of Oswestry (Councillor Sheather), Doctor Lloyd of Chirk, Major Lovett, John Richards Of Llynclys, John Richards of Morton Hall, Edward Green, The Moors, J Scott Bickerton of Sandford Hall, H C Holland of Chirk, Frank of Pentrperva, Royle, The Leasowes, Vaughn, The Vron Lee, The Crimps, Mottram, Ebnal, Ward, Gobowen, R Brown, Ruyton-XI-Towns, Hughes Penybont Hall, Emberton, Cockshutt and W Tinniswood auctioneer of Oswestry.

A letter from Mr Marshall Dugdale was among the apologies. The letter stated that it was time that farmers made their powers felt.

The meeting which had a very good attendance had apparently been called for a particular cause. The reason being that they wanted to compete on a similar footing to the butchers who had already formed themselves into the National Federation of Meat Traders Association. This federation had already recently then passed a resolution.

This resolution apparently was to have wide implications practically forcing farmers to eventually form the National Farmers Union.