Saturday, 5 October 2013

Potato Graves.

Potato riddling in 1923 on the farm of Mr. T. Hornbuckle, Fishtoft, Boston.

The men above are riddling potatoes in a field near Boston in 1923. This practise went on into the 1960's as it was one of the first jobs I had after leaving school. The potatoes would be heaped in "graves" at the edge of the field at harvest time when they were plentiful, covered in straw and topped off with a good layer of soil. In the winter a "gang" of workers would go out and riddle and sort them. It was done much the same when I was young as it always had been.
We would get there on a usually cold frosty morning, take off about two or three feet of soil and straw to expose the "tates", which would then be shovelled onto the riddle with a special fork called a "screen", designed not to pierce the potatoes (see below) riddled and sorted into good and bad bags.

A potato fork or screen.

Of course, the men of 1923 had it harder because they only had hand riddles whereas we had a diesel engined machine riddler (picture below) but the screening was the same old hard work as it had always been and of course the cold bleak conditions of Lincolnshire never changed.


  1. graves where used into the early 80's down Willows lane.

    Sykes and Taylors farm

  2. In the area between Sleaford, Boston, and Spalding tater graves were a regular sight in wintertime. In one particularly cold winter, as I rode the bus to school, I saw workers using a pneumatic drill to open one up.

  3. That was between 1961\68 on the A17.

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  6. I have a potato screening fork just like the one in the picture for sale if interested but would not post because too many breakages by couriers.

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