Fareham Strawberry Fridays
|Author: annahowelll||Published: 31st May 2012 10:12|
As part of its 800 years of markets celebration, Fareham town centre are hosting a series of Strawberry Fridays continuing up until and including Friday 29 June. It will also include one Saturday (23 June).
On these days, you will find local independent strawberry growers Nick and Debbie West, and their son Jimmy, in the Performance Podium selling the strawberries freshly picked from their nursery in Brownwich Lane, Titchfield.
Fareham markets celebrate 800 years of tradition this year, having been held by custom in thetown since 1212, during a century when street fairs and markets were in their heyday in England. The market would probably have served regional and local customers and, in an era when communications and travel were difficult and often dangerous, markets were a good way for commerce to occur.
In 1795 the market began operating every fortnight on a Monday, selling cattle and livestock which
it continued to do until 1972. Today, a general street market operates every Monday, and a Farmers' market has operated on the first Saturday of the month since 1998.
To celebrate this special anniversary, Fareham Town Centre Management has organised a number of activities at its Farmers' Markets from late Spring through to early Autumn as follows:
2 June Discover Little Woodham: a 1642 Living History Village and music by Debbie Cobbett
7 July Discover Little Woodham: a 1642 Living History Village and music by Shenanigans
4 August Livestock Display including learn how to milk Maisie the Cow and music by Rebecca Newman
1 September Discover the history of Fareham Markets with Westbury Manor Museum and music by Shenanigans
6 October Deeds of Arms Hampshire perform historical re-enactment
May to October Explore the history of Fareham Town Centre in Fareham Library
One of the most important industries in the Fareham area during the late 1800s to mid 1900s wasstrawberry growing. Commercial strawberry growing began after 1850 on land around Titchfield and Locks Heath and by 1900 the land around Titchfield, Locks Heath, Swanwick, Sarisbury and Warsash had become centres of production.
A combination of gravely or sandy soil and a mild climate free from spring frosts are ideal for theproduction of early cropping strawberries. Hampshire Strawberries were formerly always amongst the first of the season.
Until the early 1930s, strawberries were grown in the open. The use of glass cloches helped to protect the ripening fruit. Polythene tunnels were introduced in the 1960s. The industry flourished in the early 20th century but began to decline from the 1960s and, as many growers went out of business, much of the area previously covered by vast strawberry fields was developed for housing from the 1980s.
Today, a small number of thriving nurseries, such as Thornton Nurseries, show that our local strawberries are still among the best in Britain!
Swanwick Station was built specially in 1888 for the strawberry industry. For a short time each year,it was one of the busiest in the country and extra-long platforms were built to load up the ‘Strawberry Special' trains that departed regularly for Covent Garden market and beyond. Small boys were employed for 3d (1p) an hour to load baskets onto the specially constructed shelves in the railway vans.
The Swanwick & District Fruit Growers Association opened a basket making co-operative in 1913. By 1949 over 60 people worked at The Swanwick Basket Factory, falling to just six by 1964 as new materials in punnet manufacture were introduced.
Fareham Town Centre Management has been organising and managing Farmers Markets in thetown centre since 1998. Fareham Farmers Markets are operated on the first Saturday of the month, all year round, and create an environment where consumers and producers are brought together.