After a career in agricultural and horticultural freelance journalism starting in autumn 1958, long-time Member of the Guild, Brian Lovelidge has retired.
He supplied feature and news articles to most farming publications over the years and to the main daily and weekly newspapers too until their readers’ interest in farming waned in the early 1970s.
“In that time I’ve seen marked changes in crop production,” notes Brian. “For example back in the 1950s and early 1960s, there was no oilseed rape and once cereals had been drilled field gates generally remained closed until harvest time.
“Virtually all apples were grown on standard trees that required long ladders to pick and were often sprayed with hand lances on long hoses coupled to stand pipes attached to underground pipelines served by large high pressure pumps. It’s all very different now,” he says.
Brian’s interest in farming began in his school days when he worked during holidays on farms close to where he was born in Maidstone, Kent. The year after he left school, he worked on a fruit and pig farm near Tonbridge and then went to Wye College for three years (1953-56) where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture.
After that he did two years’ national service in the army, including a year on active service in Cyprus during the EOKA terrorist campaign.
After demobilisation, Brian had the good fortune to meet Edgar Phillips, a well established freelance agricultural journalist, in Maidstone Rugby Football Club’s bar. Edgar said that he had more work than he could handle and was looking for assistance.
Brian recalls: “When I told him I was interested in writing as a career and had a degree in agriculture, Edgar offered me a job on the spot!”
They worked together for four years and then Edgar concentrated on establishing Agra Europe in the UK and Brian started freelancing on his own account supplying most of the agricultural and horticultural publications with feature and news articles. In due course, he also provided a press publicity service to a number of multi-national companies, including Bayer CropScience, BASF, Zeneca, Cyanamid and May & Baker.
“At first, I covered all sectors of the farming industry, travelling throughout the UK and to many mainland Europe countries to do so,” says Brian. “For the final 20 years or so of my full time career, however, I concentrated on writing solely about arable and fruit crop production.”
After semi-retiring in 1999, fruit production became his specialist subject, mainly supplying copy and pictures to Fruit Grower.
“Fruit had always been my main interest, which is not surprising when I was born within a stone’s throw of a large fruit farm where I worked during many a school holiday,” says Brian.
Before he fully retired, Brian began writing a book, due for publication later this summer, but it has nothing to do with farming.
“It describes the sea fishing adventures (and more) of a 13-year-old lad and his father in the Rye Bay in August 1947 told against the background of their family’s most unusual holiday at Winchelsea Beach a few miles from Rye,” says Brian.
After playing rugby for 26 years followed by a 40-year long distance running career as a member of Medway Athletic Club, Brian hung up his running shoes in autumn 2009 and then adopted the more leisurely pastime of walking two to three miles a day. One of his and his wife’s favourite walks is round the bird sanctuary at Rye Harbour.
His other main leisure pursuits are reading and raising flowering and salad plants, and growing salad crops in his greenhouse.
A long term supporter of the Guild’s Harvest Lunch, Brian is greatly respected by those who have worked with him over many years in the industry.