Duck farming in Forncett


The naming of village roads was historically often far more informative, and more "colourful" than it is today. So, many Forncett residents will probably be unaware that West Road in Forncett End was previously known locally as "Duck's Mud". It's not known when the road was renamed, but the original designation was undoubtedly very descriptive!

Commercial duck farming in England developed following the breeding of Aylesbury ducks in Buckinghamshire in the 19th century and their later crossing with Chinese Pekin ducks in the late 1800s. Around this time, the improved national rail network reduced the need to rear ducks near London, and large duck farms opened in Lancashire, Norfolk and Lincolnshire.

Duck farming then became a common activity in Forncett. In September 1892 a sale of stock at Home Farm, near Forncett station, included 80 ducks, and in 1899, farmers in Forncett End reported losing more than thirty ducks to badgers! In the 1920s the Bradford family also farmed ducks at Little Common Farm in Forncett End.

From around 1930 to the 1950s, Hill Farm in West Road was the home of Gerard Philip Chapman and his wife Ellen (née Lord). A photo of Gerard Chapman, probably taken in the 1930s, shows that the Chapmans also farmed ducks, and this may well account for origins of "Ducks Mud".

Photo courtesy of Paul Gardner

Mike Merrick and John Webster