Dairy farms in Sudbury – some brief histories.When we buy milk today, we are most likely to get it from asupermarket, in a plastic bottle. But how much do we know aboutwhere our milk comes from, and the stories behind the dairy farmingbusiness, especially when this was an activity carried out by peoplein our local area?People have kept cows (and other animals) to provide milk forthousands of years, but it was only in the 19 th century that somefarms began to specialise in milk production. This article looks at thehistory of three such farms in the Sudbury district of Brent, and atsome of the changes in delivering milk from the farms so that we canenjoy it as a drink, or on our breakfast cereal, in our homes.One Hundred Elms FarmThere was a farm on this site, on the northern edge of Sudbury Common, since at least thetime of Queen Elizabeth I in the 16th century. It was probably named after the avenue of elmtrees which used to line the sides of Elms Lanefrom the Harrow Road up to the farm. You can seeSudbury as it was 270 years ago, centred nearSudbury Court Farm (on the road now namedafter it), on this map.An extract from John Rocque’s1746 map of London and environs,showing Hundred Elms Farm andthe avenue of elm trees.The Greenhill family were tenants of the farm from1817 until the early 20th century, and the 1881census shows Charles Greenhill, a farmer of147½ acres, living at "100 Elms Farm”. His father, William Greenhill, had made it a dairy farm(keeping cows to produce milk) by the 1860’s. This type of farming needed more workers, socottages were built for them to live in, including Keppel Cottages (now 920-930 Harrow Road)which can still be seen at the corner of Elms Lane.By the 1890’s the farm was selling its milk, cream and butter through a dairy shop in Harrow.Adverts for the shop invited customers to visit the farm at any time to see how its milk wasproduced. Cleanliness at the shopwas ensured by its spotless tiledsurfaces, and a specially painted tilemural adorned one of its walls.A view of the farm, painted by J.E. Dean,from an 1899 ceramic mural, made bythe Minton factory on 6 inch squaretiles, which used to decorate the wall ofthe farm’s dairy shop in Harrow, and isnow in the Victoria and Albert Museum.[Copyright: Victoria and Albert Museum]1

In 1918, Hundred Elms Farm and its shop were bought by United Dairies, a company runby Arthur Barham (the younger son of George Barham of Sudbury Park). By the mid-1920’sits fields had been sold off for housing development. Although cows could no longer bekept here, the farmyard wasretained as a dairy depotby the company, which laterbecame known as Unigate.A postcard ofOne Hundred Elms Farm,c.1920.[Source: Brent Archives]Eventually, the former farmyard was no longer suitablefor a dairy business, and it too was sold for housing development. In the 1990’s, theMetropolitan Housing Trust built Dyson Court, at the corner of Elms Lane and Perrin Road, onthe site, but if you go through these modern buildings you can still see two preserved old farmbuildings from the days of Hundred ElmsFarm. A 16th century brick building hasbeen converted to flats, while the 1840’sfarm house is now known as FranklynLodge, a residential care home for up tosix adults who have learning disabilities.Dyson Court, on the site ofHundred Elms Farm, 2015.[Photo by Philip Grant, September 2015]Vale FarmVale Farm existed, on the north-east edge of Sudbury Common, by at least the 18 th century,when it was owned by the Lake family, and later by Richard Page of Wembley Park. It wasprobably a mixed farm, growing crops and raising livestock for meat, run by a succession oftenant farmers.By 1875, the farm was owned by the biscuitmagnate, Samuel Palmer, and before hedied in 1898 it had changed to a dairy farm,with a herd of cows grazing its pasturedfields to produce milk. The buildings put upat the time of this change included a newfarmhouse.The farmhouse at Vale Farm,around 1900.[Photograph courtesy of Janet Prout]2

By the early 20th century, much of Sudbury was still farm land, but the area was starting to bedeveloped for housing, particularly after new railway lines opened (at Sudbury Town in 1903,and to Sudbury and Harrow Road stationin 1906). A map given by Wembley’s firstestate agent, George H. Ward, ‘forinformation of intending purchasers’ at thistime, shows Vale Farm and some of thenew roads for housing nearby.An extract from George H. Ward’s“Plan of Wembley”, around 1908.[Source: Brent Archives]In the early 1900’s, the tenants of ValeFarm were the Panes family. A few monthsago, their great-granddaughter kindly letWembley History Society havecopies of several old family photos,including a group picture at thefarmhouse from the wedding ofMabel Panes to Charles Caple. Itshows what local people, in their“Sunday best” clothes, looked like inlate-Victorian and Edwardian times.The wedding photograph atVale Farm, early 1900’s.[Photograph courtesy of Janet Prout]By 1910, the Vale Farm Dairy business had a shopon Wembley High Road (near what is now WembleyCentral Station) and was making milk deliveries tolocal homes. The milkman pushed a hand-cart, andwould ladle milk out of a large churn into metal cans,depending on how much milk each customer wantedto buy.A Vale Farm Dairy milkman, around 1910.[From the Wembley History Society Collectionat Brent Archives]3

Housing development in Sudbury finally caught up with the farm in the 1920’s. Wembley UrbanDistrict Council saw the need for public recreation, as well as homes, and bought 33 acres ofVale Farm land in 1928, for use as a Sports Ground. It built a large open-air swimming poolthere, which opened in 1932, and the former farmhouse was used as the home for the SportsGround’s superintendent. The farmhouse is no longer there, and may have been demolishedas part of the redevelopment of the Vale Farm Sports Centre in the late-1970’s, when thepresent indoor swimming pools were built, so that only the farm’s name now survives.Sudbury Park FarmSudbury Park Farm was opened by the Barham family in 1897, although its fields had beenpart of another farm, known as North Farm, by the mid-19th century. George Barham hadfounded the Express Dairy Company in the 1860’s, to bring fresh milk to London from thecountry by train. Around 1880, the family moved into Crabs House (now part of the BarhamPark buildings) on the Harrow Road, and bought the mansion in whose grounds it stood in1895, renaming it SudburyPark.A postcard of Harrow Road,c.1910, showing Crabs Houseon the right and Sudbury ParkFarm on the left.[Source: Brent Archives]The Express Dairy wasalready supplying milk toQueen Victoria, but theirnew “model dairy farm”,across the road from CrabsHouse, with its pedigreeherd of Jersey cattle, allowed George Barham, and his son Titus, to demonstrate the latestmethods of dairy farming to other milk producers from around Britain and the world. Milk fromthe farm was very popular, and some of it was supplied to trans-Atlantic liners. When, the bythen, Sir George Barham died in 1913, Titus Barham inherited the Express Dairy retailbusiness and the farm, while his brother, Arthur, took over the Dairy Supply Companywholesale business (later United Dairies – see One Hundred Elms Farm).An extractfrom the 1914Ordnance Surveymap, showingthe location ofthe farm.4

Titus Barham lived at the Sudbury Park mansion until hisdeath in 1937, and was very fond of his cattle (he used toact as a judge at agricultural shows). The dairy farm suppliedmilk and butter to local Express Dairy shops, and for deliveryto local homes, especially after the company pioneered theuse of glass milk bottles by the 1920’s.A local Express Dairy advert, from around 1930.[Source: Wembley History Society Collection]As well as running his dairy company, Titus Barham didmuch for local charities. When plans were proposed for anew public hospital in Wembley, he donated some of theSudbury Park Farm land in Chaplin Road as a site for it. By1930, he also had to sell some of the land to WembleyCouncil, for a new junior school, which was named after him.The Express Dairy Co. sold off the remaining fields of Sudbury Park Farm for housingdevelopment by the late-1930’s, although Wembley’s plans for an estate of Council homes onpart of the land had to wait until after the Second World War. Its main road is called FarmAvenue.Although it no longer had Sudbury Park Farm, the Express Dairy business continued to delivermilk to local homes for much of the 20th century.Left: A horse-drawn milk cart in Kenton, 1954. [Photograph courtesy of Angela Rumsey]Right: An electric milk float at Preston Road in the 1960’s. [Source: Brent Archives]Philip Grant, Wembley History Society, February / March 2016.This material on Sudbury’s dairy farms was prepared for a local history display by WembleyHistory Society, at the March 2016 “Sudbury Fest” event organised by Sudbury TownResidents’ Association and Sudbury Neighbourhood Centre.5

By the early 20th century, much of Sudbury was still farm land, but the area was starting to be developed for housing, particularly after new railway lines opened (at Sudbury Town in 1903, and to Sudbury and Harrow Road station in 1906). A map given by Wembley's first estate agent, George H. Ward, 'for