M is for Mole
Moles create havoc for farmers and gardeners alike and controlling them has always been a challenge. There are many references in the archives of the large estates to vermin catchers.
The page from an account book from the Ickworth Estate from 1851 records on a weekly basis, the names of the vermin catchers, the numbers and type of animals caught, and the total paid out to each man. The rate was 2d per mole, rabbits 1d, and rats at 1d. Big catches included 168 rats, and another, 188 moles. Obviously, it was important to gamekeepers to make sure the estate was well maintained, and this included pest control.
Mr Walter Rowe recalls catching moles as a young boy in an oral history interview (L401/1/003):
I used to get some pocket, catching moles, and skinning ‘em, stretch them out on a board and when I got a dozen, I used to send them away and get 3d a piece for them skins. They made fur coats and the like – nearly £100 a coat at that time. I caught moles by setting a trap in the ground, buried it and when you see that open out, you know you’d caught a mole or else that sprung it.