Wartime diary of a former Appleby woman

Date: Friday 9th September 2011

THE wartime diary of a former Appleby women has been lovingly transcribed and published by her niece.

The Milk Lady at New Park Farm: The Wartime Diary of Anne McEntegart, June 1943-February 1945 is a touching account of Anne’s work to support the war effort.

The author lived at Boroughgate, Appleby, from 1979 until hr death in 1984, having moved there from Dumfriesshire. She had travelled to the area to hear a lecture given by Sir Peter Scott and saw a Georgian house in the main street of Appleby with an inviting “For Sale” notice. Immediately she felt this was where she wanted to move.

She bought the house. Her remaining concern was for her collection of waterfowl, but she did not have to worry, as Appleby Castle welcomed them to join the birds already there. So the birds travelled in sacks from the pond in Dumfriesshire to the moat at Appleby Castle.

Anne set about renovating the house. Behind it was what had been a “dame school”. She turned this into a large working studio where she could continue her work as an artist. She loved her new life in Appleby, admired the liveliness of the people she met and appreciated being close to amenities she was 74. She greatly enjoyed getting to know the artist Phil Morseman, and his wife Jean.

Anne asked her niece, Shirley Nicholson, of Didsbury, Manchester, to publish her diary after her passing. Shirley has done this and, as the diary is about Anne’s time working on a farm in the New Forest during the war, the book was launched at the New Forest show this year.

The book tells how Anne wanted to support the war effort. Her Royal Air Force officer husband was working abroad and her only child was in Canada, evacuated for safety. Aged 38, Anne left London to work on the land and deliver milk for Walter Gossling at New Park Farm, just outside the village of Brockenhurst, in the New Forest.

Though not an official member of the Women’s Land Army, Anne milked cows and stacked corn alongside the land girls on the farm. Engagingly detailing the brim-full days of farm life during the build-up to D-Day and after, this book celebrates the people and places not to mention a wayward pony which made up the wartime Brockenhurst community.

The book can be ordered from any good bookshop, as well as from Anne’s former home. After her death the Wrights came to live at her former home in Boroughgate. What had been her studio is now The Courtyard Gallery, run by Andrew Wright, who has agreed to sell Anne’s diary.

Those who knew Anne will be interested to read the diary. However, it reaches a wider audience those who are interested in the land girls and in the Second World War; those who are interested in farming; animal lovers; and those who simply enjoy a “feel good” story.

The Milk Lady at New Park Farm: The Wartime Diary of Anne McEntegart, June 1943-February 1945 is published by RMC Books (ISBN 978-1-907998-06-5) and priced at £9.99.