Corn Exchange, St. Paul's Square, Bedford [Z1306/10/58/15]
Saturday 10th July 1915: Lady Denman has been giving personal interviews to farmers at the Bedford Corn Exchange today on behalf of the National Land Council. The object of the Land Council is to place women in agricultural employment, freeing men to join the Army or perform other war service. Each employer interviewed was asked to complete a survey asking whether there was currently a shortage of labour, whether there was likely to be one in the future, and whether help would be required in any of the following areas: dairy, milking, poultry, live stock (including horses), light cartage, market gardening, fruit picking, field work, marketing and distribution. They were also asked about the need for seasonal labour and how many harvest workers would be required. The key questions were “Would you be willing to take women who have been taught the work in any of these posts?” and “What accommodation have you for the workers you engage?”
The Land Council has on its books the names of a number of women who already possess agricultural skills. Some were from Canada and New Zealand and were able to operate the latest types of machinery. There were also unskilled women workers who would be sent in groups of six or eight under the direction of a “captain”. Lady Denman has made it known that she is delighted at the enthusiasm with which she has been received in Bedford, which she believes to be one of the most up-to-date counties for agriculture in the country. Several of the farmers she has spoken to have promised to apply to the Land Council for women labourers.
Source: Bedfordshire Standard 9th July 1915