A Century of Expanding Horizons: Poultry Farming at Newington House

Posted: 19/08/2015 | Scottish War Blinded

In our latest centenary blog we focus on the vocational skill of poultry farming which many Scottish War Blinded members learned at Newington House in the 1920s.

Poultry farming was popular for many reasons. The occupation required very little capital to get started, it could be potentially highly profitable and offered an opportunity to work outdoors. Working outdoors proved highly effective in promoting positive health and well-being as well as sustaining productivity. 

Here is an excerpt from a 1920 Scottish War Blinded leaflet:

“The spacious grounds at Newington House give facilities for poultry farming, which is especially valuable from a health point of view. It has been taken up with enthusiasm, and members have settled into poultry farming in Blebo Craigs, Bathgate, Girgenti, Newburgh, Falkirk and Dumfries.”

Members learned the fundamental skills required for both layer (egg production) and broiler (meat production) poultry. This included identifying appropriate breeds, exercise and feeding, housing and production cycles.

Upon completion of training, members were supported with a grant to purchase small holdings and equipment to develop poultry farming businesses across Scotland.

Many members wrote letter of thanks to Newington House following their training:

“Will you kindly convey to the committee my sincere thanks for their kindness to me during interesting and happy year at Newington House, and also for the splendid way they have fixed me up as a poultry farmer. I never anticipated such a happy and comfortable ending to my training, and I find it really hard to express in words, or should I say writing, how much I appreciate the kindness I have received from you, the staff and the committee in general.”

Here is a report about Scottish War Blinded member John McPhail settling in Renfrewshire as a poultry farmer:

“Blinded during World War One, J. McPhail has made a marked success of an outside occupation. He occupies a small holding under the Board of Agriculture Scheme and is recognised by the board as an accredited station for the sale of day-old chicks, etc. Hence it is only necessary for him to rear the very best of stock, and he has now built up an excellent business, with modern equipment, the very latest hen-house, incubators, etc. From his station he sends chickens by plane to buyers in all parts of the United Kingdom.”