December 9 2013 Latest news:
Sunday, June 12, 2011
An enterprising north Norfolk farmer with an eye for mechanical innovations, John Seaman – who has died peacefully aged 92 – was also a long-serving ploughing match judge.
He started farming on his own account at the age of 18 and built a highly-successful business.
Born at Park Farm, Wolterton, John George Seaman was the eldest son and second of six children. His father, Sidney, was a tenant on the Earl of Orford’s estate.
A crack shot, he had started school in Holt and was a boarder at Norwich High School for Boys in Upper St Giles, where he won the annual rifle competition at least five times.
He got the chance to take Becket’s Farm, Hempstead, and Hall Farm, Baconsthorpe, just when farming was emerging from seven decades of depression. He stayed there for the next 70 years.
He had joined the Territorial Army and on the outbreak of the second world war became a small arms instructor, serving with the 5th battalion, Royal Norfolk Regiment. As a farmer, he choose to serve rather than rely on his reserved status.
He was also involved in planning for Pluto (Pipeline Under The Ocean) until his father’s illness led to his return to farming in 1943. He formed a unit of the 202 special Home Guard and was trained to use explosives.
As a “peterman” or safebreaker, his official role was to blow safes at County Hall and government offices to deny the enemy official records.
For some years after the war, before his store of explosives was exhausted, he removed many tree stumps and even a huge solid concrete searchlight base on the farm. He went into dairying and milked some 400 cows at Shrubbs Farm, Edgefield.
Always of an inventive mind, in 1952 he made a combination seed drill. The later Mini-Mat incorporated many of these features and he designed a side-mounted tractor bale loader. This reduced in-field handling of 170,000 small bales until 1976 when big bales were introduced.
He judged Holt & District Farmers’ Club’s ploughing match for 40 years and was a local tax commissioner for more than a quarter of a century.
A keen sportsman, he was shooting and fishing into his eighties.
He leaves two children, Ann and Peter (Spin), three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. A thanksgiving service will be held at St Mary’s Church, Baconsthorpe, on Tuesday, June 21 at 2pm. Michael Pollitt