By the early years of the twentieth century there were only three arable farms based in Trebetherick, out of the six recorded in earlier times. These were Higher Farm, at the top of the hill, Lower Farm on the lane down to the beach, and Trenain Farm on the way to Trewint. (There were other farms which kept cattle only.)
The farmhouse of Higher Farm was what is now called Old Farm, at the top of Worthy Hill opposite the turning to Daymer Lane. In 1929, 180 acres of land at Higher Farm were bought by Harry Male from Captain Randall of Polzeath, some of which still belong to his family.
Harry Male was originally a builder by trade, but demand for building at the turn of the century was low, and in 1902 Harry went to South Africa for a few years, attached to the local Police force, to help with the reconstruction of the railways there damaged during the Boer War. On his return he built Linkside and St Enodoc View. His son Basil recalled that the bricks used for building these houses were landed from barges on Daymer beach, on a temporary platform constructed for the purpose.
Harry married Caroline Mably in 1910. Later on, he decided to become a farmer and bought Higher Farm at auction. However, the 1929 sale did not include the original farmhouse, leased since 1918 to Colonel Cotton, who subsequently bought it – hence its change of name to Old Farm. Harry himself built the new farmhouse for Higher Farm, completed in 1930; the date still visible on its outer wall. A hurricane took place during its construction, blowing down some of the partly-built walls which then had to be rebuilt.
Basil Male, Harry’s son born in 1915 at Manor Cottage in Rock, took over Higher Farm after his father’s death in 1968. He described the system of four-year crop rotation, now long gone, which included rye grass and clover for cattle feed. The farm made the family self-sufficient. Everyone that could kept a pig in those days – the pig house in the garden of Torquil Cottage is still standing.
By the time the Second World War broke out in 1939 Basil had been married to Edna for two years. Farming was a reserved occupation and so Basil did not have to join up, but many of his friends did, including Geoffrey Buse, killed in service with the RAF. Edna came from Bristol; she and Basil met in the early 1930s when she came to Polzeath with the Wills family to help with the household while they were on holiday.
Many will remember Edna’s kitchen at Higher Farm where there was always a ready supply of clotted cream in the fridge, and more in the making on the back of the stove. Basil and Edna retired to a bungalow they built next to Higher Farm’s ancient stone barns. They named it Trenoweth, Cornish for ‘new house’.
Basil and Edna had two children, Midge and Martyn; he took over the farm from his father. Midge’s real name is Judith Elizabeth Caroline; she says that her mother was milking Judy the cow while pondering names for her unborn child. Midge trained as a nurse, and then a midwife. She was married to Harry Hardcastle at St Minver in 1966. They had two children, Sarah and Andrew. Harry’s passion was always aviation; he joined the RAF in 1954. His parents had moved from Leeds to Trebetherick in 1946 when he was a boy to take over the Daymer Bay Hotel – built originally as No 1 and No 2 The Terrace but then joined together, and now semi-detached houses again: Bar’s House and Honeybourne.
Midge sadly died in 2013, only a year after her father Basil, and Harry in 2015. Although most of the Higher Farm fields were sold during Martyn Male’s tenure, Sarah has continued the family farming tradition by keeping rare breed sheep on the land surrounding Trenoweth, and in the westernmost old slate-built barn by the road opposite the original coastguard cottages at the top of Trebetherick.