William Lawson

Members of the Lawson family outside Blennerhasset school in 1904

http://www.blennerhasset.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Lawson-and-father-1024x564.jpg 1024w, http://www.blennerhasset.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Lawson-and-father.jpg 1133w" sizes="(max-width: 453px) 100vw, 453px" /> Members of the Lawson family outside Blennerhasset school in 1904

William Lawson’s Farm Co-operative

Blennerhasset was once the centre of a series of ground-breaking schemes to improve both farming methods and the lot of the local populace. William Lawson was the driving force behind these ‘farming and social experiments’.

William Lawson was born at Brayton, in 1836, the son of an ‘old and wealthy family’. Inspired by the Essex farm of agricultural pioneer, John Mechi, Lawson acquired Blennerhasset Farm in 1862 and renamed it ‘Mechi Farm’. Over the next decade, he introduced many innovations, including mechanised cultivation and gas lighting for the farm and village.

A village ‘parliament’ met weekly to debate local issues such as what materials should be available in the library and reading rooms also set up by William Lawson. A bath house, school, and night school for adults were further contributions to ‘the public good’.

A profit-sharing scheme aimed to create an ‘industrial partnership’ with the farm-workers; new cottages were built; and co-operative shops selling the farm’s produce were opened in Blennerhasset, Ireby, Carlisle and Newcastle.

Unprofitable crops, disastrous potato blight and a major fire at Mechi in 1871 convinced Lawson that his farming was ‘very far from being remunerative’ and never likely to be so. The Blennerhasset estate was sold to William’s brother, Wilfrid, in February 1872. William Lawson died at Falmouth, in 1916.

10 years of gentleman farming

This book was co-written by William Lawson after the demise of the co-operative farming experiment in Blennerhasset. A copy is available to download as a pdf or to your kindle at…  http://archive.org/details/cu31924054695048