Doug leaves land his family has farmed for 160 years
By Martin Paul - Senior Reporter
A DALE poet, artist and farmer has hung up his parish chairman’s hat after almost 40 years at the helm and is giving up his tenant farm.
Doug Anderson, of Moor House Farm, in Brignall, gave up the role at Rokeby, Brignall and Eggleston Abbey council after the annual meeting in May. The 82-year-old took up the position in 1982 after having served as vice-chairman from 1976.
He said: “I was on holiday, when I came back they had made me chairman.”
Originally a parish meeting, the council was formed to object to plans to dual the A66 at Cross Lanes. Mr Anderson said the council was successful in getting the plans changed to make the crossing more safe. Now he also plans to retire from farming, bringing an end to an era that includes four generations of his family working the 230 acres of land at Moor House.
Mr Anderson said: “It is strange when you look at it – our family came here in 1865, that is about 160 years ago – I am 82, so I have been here half that time.”
He remembers vividly growing up, particularly a heavy snow fall in the winter of 1947 when the drifts were as high as a house and he had to walk from Brignall to Barney School. He was about 11 at the time.
He said: “Nowadays they have all the machinery to shift it – in those days they didn’t.”
He met his wife, Hazel, at a village dance and they married secretly at Richmond Registry Office when he was 29.
Mr Anderson said: “We eloped, so we just disappeared.”
A trip to London followed, starting a lifetime of holidays together that would take them to all parts of the country from Lands End to John o’ Groats. His wife’s fear of flying meant they took all their holidays in Britain staying at bed and breakfasts.
A particular favourite was driving to the Royal Highland Show after hay-making, touring Scotland and coming back in time for Darlington Show.
He said: “We went everywhere – just somewhere different each time.”
They gained quite a reputation at local shows where Mr Anderson won awards as much for his art as for his animals, and his wife for her flower arranging. He used his other hobby – poetry and writing – to entertain people in the church magazine.
He went on to write a book about Moor House Farm’s fields under the title One Field At A Time in 2007. The book sold extremely well during a signing at the Teesdale Mercury Shop.
Sadly, Mr Anderson’s wife died from breast cancer in 1999, but Mr Anderson continued to be a leading figure in the community.
He said: “We had a ball of a time. I can’t think of a time that stands out. When it is good all the time, you can’t.
“We had arguments, but we never fell out good and proper.”
He also had his fair share of adventures.
Mr Anderson said: “I nearly got killed in 2005. A bull smashed my ribs into my lungs. I was in intensive care for quite a while.”
He continues to produce art, but has swapped his watercolour paintbrushes for crayons because of Parkinson’s and his poetry remains as prolific as ever.
He is also writing a second book, which he hopes to complete when he retires to Barningham in September.
He concluded: “I am not grieving that I am leaving, I am just thankful that I have had such a good time.”