CamdenNewJournal

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Kentish Town City Farm searches for new ‘midwife’ as stockman retires after 34 years

John Langan has helped in the birth of hundreds of animals at the pioneering project

03 August, 2017 — By Tom Foot

Mr Langan said a city farm was “unheard of” when he started out

HE has played the midwife in the birth of around two-dozen calflings, 90 pigs and 500 sheep during his 34 years at Kentish Town City Farm.

But the cock crowed for the last time for stockman John Langan yesterday (Wednesday) when he retired from the pioneering project in Cressfield Close.

He said: “I still find it very enjoyable. The only reason I’m going is that I’m effing knackered – I’m of pension age, and I’ve got about 30 years of DIY to do.”

Mr Langan, who lives in Malden Road, said he didn’t know anything about animals when he applied for the job in 1983.

He said: “When it started, this project was totally innovative. It had never been considered before. There had been pets’ corners in some places, some places would have had animals, but the idea of having a farm, and farm animals with horses, in the city – it was unheard of.

“Now I’ve been involved in some-thing like 25 calflings, 90 pigs being born, around 400-500 sheep and goats over the years. I don’t know what I’m going to do, really. Today’s officially my last day, but I’ve got lots of things I want to do here.”

Over the years Mr Langan has welcomed thousands of Camden children and seen them grow up and bring their own children to the farm.

He said: “All the kids that come through here, we try and get them doing as much as possible. We give them opportunities that maybe aren’t available to them otherwise.

“They learn to take some responsibility, and build self-confidence. They are the ones taking over from us, they are what’s important.”

A young girl, Mercedes, helping out on Mr Langan’s last day, took the New Journal on a professional tour of the farm, which stretches back onto former railway land near.

Talking about his own childhood and growing up in Kentish Town, Mr Langan said: “When I was a kid in 1952, everything in Kentish Town was grey, it was grimy and dirty–you had to go to school in smog.

“I was at Rhyl Street, they had a playground on the roof because of the smog. The air quality these days, it’s different particulates. In those days it was soot, sulphur.

“I went to Kynaston, a new secondary modern school built by the Labour government in 1958. The Tories come to power and in their wisdom said they wanted to make a grammar school, Quinton, next door. The big hall was partitioned. They ate their dinner on one side of a wall and us on the other. It was proper educational apartheid.”

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