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Pig basics (part two)

Cillside Farm, Glenridding, Penrith, Cumbria

New Theories

Mitchum's Campsites, Moor Lane, Croyde, Devon

Huntstile Organic Farm, Coathurst, nr Bridgwater, Somerset

Tea democratised (part four)

Hook Farm Caravan Park, Gore Lane, Uplyme, Lyme Regis, Dorset

Burnbake Campsite, Rempstone, Corfe Castle, Wareham, Dorset

White pigs (part one)

A Sacred Landscape

The Royal Oak, Hurdlow, nr Buxton, Derbyshire

Kitts Cottage Camp, Freshfield Place Farm, Sloop Lane, Scaynes Hill, West Sussex

Tea democratised (part two)

Tea democratised (part six)

George I and George II (1714 - 1760)

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New pigs (part four)In 2006 a pig rare breeds centre (Pig Paradise Farm) in Wiltshire imported more than a dozen unrelated individuals of an old Hungarian curly-coated lard breed, the splendidly woolly though rather primitive Mangalitza. The Lincolnshire Curly Coat, which became extinct in Britain in the early 1970s, had been exported to Hungary more than a century earlier and did well in local harsh winters; it was to some extent crossed with the Mangalitza and the offspring were known as the Lincolitsa in the 1920s. The Mangalitza is nearly extinct in its homeland but the Wiltshire farm eventually found some breeding stock in three different colour lines — blonde, red and 'swallow-bellied' (with a pale underside) — and has started its own British breeding programme for these fleecy pigs.
New pigs (part three)The low-slung bellies and extremely early sexual maturity of the Chinese breeds are also characteristic of the related Vietnamese Pot-bellied, a dwarf type that became fashionable in the United Kingdom (and in the United States, imported via Canada) in the 1980s and 1990s as a pet, until it grew rather larger and more demanding than its fond owners had anticipated. Most of those in Britain are of the black, wrinkle-skinned breed known simply as Í, from the Red River delta, but some of the pot-bellies may be spotted or solid white.
New pigs (part two)Chinese pigs are once again influencing British breeders. In the 1980s one of the big pig-breeding companies began to use the Meishan to increase the prolificacy of its commercial line. The Meishan is one of the black, wrinkle-skinned, pot-bellied Taihu group of breeds from the Lower Changjiang (Yangtze) Basin.
New pigs (part one)The pigs of Britain continue to evolve, and in the commercial sector various imported breeds have made their mark in the continual quest for improvement. Ironically, pigs that are superficially (in colour) similar to some of the British rare breeds, and which originally owed their development to English pigs, have been brought over from the United States to improve the British gene pool. These American breeds include the red Duroc, the belted Hampshire and the semi-lop Chester White.
The Large White is one of Britain's three main commercial breeds; the other two whites are the British Landrace and the Welsh. The lop-eared Landrace was introduced into the United Kingdom in 1949 from Sweden and deliberately bred for British conditions and markets. The sows are good, prolific and docile mothers and are often crossed with Large White.

The Welsh has had a varied history. It is claimed that pigs came into Wales in Viking times with the Celts who took refuge there (mass pig migrations are recorded in the Maginogion saga). Welsh pigs in later history were typical of the Old English lop-ears, usually yellowish, sometimes with black spotting; they and the Cornish pigs were described as 'wolf-shaped' in the eighteenth century. There were a few primitive brown pigs, similar to those in Scotland described in 1872 as 'an alligator mounted on stilts'.
White pigs (part two)Now the most numerous pig in Britain (and probably in the world), the prick-eared and hearty Large White, with its slightly dished profile, is well adapted to intensive farming systems for bacon and pork.There was, briefly, a small Yorkshire Blue-and-White, or Bilsdale Blue, which became extinct in the late 1950s. But creating blue-and-white bacon pigs by crossing Large White boars on Large Black sows was common practice for a long time.
White pigs (part one)Many loca white breeds have disappeared over the years or been absorbed by the few that remain. The old White Leicester was possibly the result of crossing pigs bred by one of the pioneers of livestock breeding, Robert Bakewell (1725-95), and originating from white, light spotted or mahogany local Leicester pigs crossed with a black boar, or from white Chinese, or it might simply have arisen from breeding local pigs with the soon to be famous Middle White or Small White from Yorkshire. Despite its name, the White Leicester of the latter half of the nineteenth century was sometimes categorised as 'brown' or was described as light with black or brown spots.
Coloured pigs (part five)The Improved Essex came from Squire Western of Felix Hall, the original importer of the black Neapolitan pigs from Italy. He crossed his imports on big Essex sows to create his Essex Half-black (black one end, white the other), and his tenants used the cross to create the Improved Essex as a small fat black pig giving top-quality pork.
Large black or 'blue' pigs were found right across southern England from Cornwall through Sussex to Kent. At the very end of the nineteenth century all of them were brought together to form the Large Black, which also absorbed the Small Black of East Anglia. The Large Black was a very popular and very large bacon breed in the 1920s but is rare today. Its 'mealy' black colour protects it in hot climates, and it is thoroughly hardy in its own country as a handsome and gentle outdoor grazer.
Coloured pigs (part four)The Midlands spotted pigs included yet another favourite British breed: the Gloucestershire Old Spots or Orchard pig. The old Gloucester was of the typical Old English slouch-eared type, dirty yellowish-white in colour, and traditionally it had wattles (fleshy tassels) dangling from its jowls. The Old Spots type developed in the Berkeley Vale (probably through crossing with the old Berkshire), where it thrived on whey and windfalls. The breed had a vague history until a breed society was formed in 1913, when selected spotty pigs were taken into the herdbook. It was unpretentious but a good farmer's pig, producing heavy hams and good bacon, prolific, docile behind its lop ears, a grazer, and very hardy. The breed society marketed the breed magnificently, and there was a huge boom in spotted pigs, but the bubble burst in the 1940s and it became rare.
Coloured pigs (part three)In the early 1970s Joe Henson of the Cotswold Farm Park, the co- founder of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, crossed a Wild Boar with a Tamworth sow for the sake of a group of archaeologists wanting livestock for a reconstructed Iron Age village. The resulting piglets were striped, like those of the Wild Boar, and Henson continued to breed his Iron Age hybrids, selecting for the darkest and most docile ones.
The colour of the old Berkshires and Tamworths is reflected today in the Oxford Sandy and Black (OSB), a breed with a chequered and sometimes disputed history. It might have derived originally from an old Oxford Dairy pig crossed by the Marquess of Blandford with his black Neapolitan boar and a later cross with Essex blacks to create the Improved Oxford.