Farming family retire after nearly 80 years on land

Peter Shirley at Checkley Wood Farm
Peter Shirley at Checkley Wood Farm

A farming family are waving goodbye to the farmland they have looked after over three generations since 1936.

Checkley Wood Farm near Hockliffe is being vacated by farmer Peter Shirley, 63, and his wife Anne as they prepare to retire to a new life in the Cotswolds.

Checkley Wood Farm in the 1930s, with Peter's father William and grandfather, also William

Checkley Wood Farm in the 1930s, with Peter's father William and grandfather, also William

Although sad to leave the farm, the Shirleys feel that the time is right for them to make the move after Peter was diagnosed with Parkinsons Disease.

Peter told the Observer: “We’re leaving for health reasons mainly. It’s a bit sad to be honest, but we’re ready to move on with our lives.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet, I don’t think it will until the day we leave!”

The couple, whose two grown-up sons still live in the area, hope the quieter pace of life in the Cotswolds will offer a soothing retirement.

Peter added: “I’ll certainly be getting involved in village life over there.”

It was Peter’s grandfather William Shirley who moved the family from Haddenham in Buckinghamshire to Checkley Wood Farm in 1936.

And Peter’s dad Billy was always a helpful hand to the LBO. A keen breeder of Hampshire Down sheep, he was for many years the newspaper’s go-to whenever they needed a cute picture of a lamb.

A sale of the farm’s goods and chattels took place on September 12, with the field full of farm implements and machinery. A row of ploughs included one over a hundred years old, while a vintage tractor stemmed from the 1930s – when the Shirleys first moved to the farm.

Checkley Wood Farm is situated near the wind turbine at Double Arches quarry and is owned by landowner Arnold White Estates. There are plans for a second wind turbine to be built in one of the farm’s fields. No formal application has yet been submitted.