THE GRAIN SILOS.

1946 was a bad weather year and they were still getting in the harvest in November.

World War II was over but the country was on its knees. Everything was in short

supply. Despite this there were big changes made in time for the 1947 harvest at

Pitstone Green Farm.

The Askham Bryan Institute, during the grain bin ventilation experiments of 1946,

had produced a design for a state of the art grain drying plant and were looking

for a 'guinea pig' farm to try this out. Jeff Hawkins was the farmer and owner

of Pitstone Green Farm and carried out the building of this plant. The view

you see in the picture is the side view of the silos taken before the present

wireless & science room (originally brick grain bins) were built. He built the

silos and associated plant and demonstrated that the design was a success.

Raw materials for construction were in very short supply, but Jeff had one advantage

in that bulk cement was being manufactured literally just across the road at

Pitstone Cement Works. The silos (correctly termed Ventilated Drying Bins)

are made of reinforced concrete. The concrete supply was assured, but what of

the reinforcement, steel was only available for high priority uses in 1947.

Large quantities of flexible steel mesh had been made during the war to spread

over soft sand in the desert for heavy vehicles and tanks to pass. Stockpiles

of this were now surplus. A sufficient quantity was obtained and, along with

some standard re-inforcing bars, erected to form the walls of the silos. These

were then trowelled by hand with concrete, inside and outside, in three stages.

The result is was six silos (two more were added at a later date), which

are very strong, despite walls only a few inches thick.

Jeff and his farm workers, along with hired bricklayers, built the silos with

their own labour, contractors came in to erect the roof later. A new electricity

supply was brought in to power the fans and the heaters to blow warmed air

through the silos when they were filled with damp grain

These silos were not just a grain drying and storage plant. They formed a part

of a complete grain drying-handling-milling-mixing-bagging plant with emphasis

on minimising labour and they were the product of Jeff's fertile mind. Grain

was moved around the area in several ways. Augers are like giant corkscrews,

rotating inside close fitting pipes; put the end of the pipe into a bin of grain

and start the screw rotating in the right direction and the grain will move along

the pipe. With a blast of air grain can be blown through a pipe for a considerable

distance. An endless belt fitted with small buckets can elevate the grain from a

low container to a higher one. All of these methods were used here.

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