Noel Phillips was born in Banstead, England. Here he recollects
his boyhood, growing up on a poultry farm in Croydon
Growing up on a poultry farm
"In the 1930s, I had various tasks to do every morning
before going to school while my mother was frying bacon and
eggs for my breakfast.
Regarding re-stocking, this was done as far as possible
from our own breeding pens. Each house had one cockerel and
about one dozen hens. The eggs were collected and brought
into the incubator shed, then put in trays in the
incubators, which were heated by paraffin lamps.
Dogs were an ever present menace to the hens; they came through from Fairlawn Grove, The dogs would arrive in packs of 10 or 12 and if they weren't spotted immediately, they could wipe out a whole pen of hens in no time. Whoever spotted them first would shout 'Dogs! Dogs!' and run out to the pen, hoping someone else had heard and would follow up close behind. Inside the pen gate was a stick which you picked up, that was usually enough as the dogs were cowards and soon ran out again through the hole they had made to get in.
Another threat to the hens were the badgers which
occasionally got into the hen-houses at night and killed the
birds. My dad killed three altogether, two smallish ones and
a third, a massive boar which went for him after he had shot
it, and he had to dispatch it by hitting it over the head
with his empty gun and broke off the stock doing so.
Regular customers bought eggs and chickens for the table direct from the farm. My mother also did an egg-round, cycling as far as Purley to deliver eggs to private houses. But in the late 1930s new regulations forced us to sell the eggs through established 'egg-packing stations' and this did not provide a very good profit. At the same time it was becoming more difficult to obtain feed, especially in the early years of the War. What was available was of poor quality and so the poultry farm turned into a vegetable-growing concern. But that is another story."