During 2017 and 2018 a group of volunteers has interviewed a number of Melbourne Residents who were involved with the Market Gardeners which have now closed.

Andrew & John Jackson of Samuel Jackson Growers Ltd

F Jackson and Son wasn’t the only branch of the Jackson family involved in Market Gardening in Melbourne, the Jackson families are all distant cousins with family connections through grandparents or great-grandparents. Samuel Jackson was one of 13 children – his parents were Walter and Fanny Jackson. He was a bit of a black sheep and rather than stay working for his family he decided to go it alone and took on some land at Ramsley. He had six children three boys who worked on the land and three girls who helped in the house.

He bought Cross House in Kings Newton in 1922 for £1000 including Melbourne Brickworks in 89 acres of land. It became the hub of the business and the family still own it nearly a century later. Samuel was John Jackson and Andrew Jackson’s grandfather and his business, Samuel Jackson & Son, later became Samuel Jackson Growers Ltd, which after many years as a market garden operates as Swarkestone Nursery today.

In the post-War era there were lots of changes not least with horses being replaced by ’horsepower’ in the form of tractors and lorries. Samuel Jackson never wanted a tractor and took a lot of persuading before he agreed, under pressure from his sons – Walter, Ken and Ewart – to buy one of the first Ferguson Tractors. As soon as it arrived, you couldn’t get him off it! The business reacted well to changes in the market for produce and the business thrived, eventually employing over 20 staff.

Market Gardening was hard work and tiring when your days were long and spent out on the land. Samuel Jackson’s were a good firm to work for and looked after their workers. Everyone looked forward to stopping work for a few minutes in the afternoon for tea and eagerly awaited the arrival of Andrew Jackson’s mother, Margaret, with the huge container, known as ’The Big Jug’of tea. Many workers stayed for their whole working life.

In the 1960’s at Samuel Jackson’s, Ewart Jackson was always in the tractor ploughing and planting, Ken Jackson was in the office, and Walter looked after sales until Andrew took over. By the time Andrew joined the family business it was expanding fast. Andrew wasn’t a natural gardener, he worked hard but didn’t really enjoy the work. He used to go to Market every Friday at Derby with his Uncle Walter. Andrew loved the bustle and banter of Market Day, and he realised how you could make more money at Market and quickly learnt to stand his ground and get a good deal. Andrew says that going to Market made him the person he is, he changed from being a little mouse to a ‘rat’!

Samuel Jackson’s had land throughout Melbourne and Kings Newton and as the business expanded in the 1970’s the new generation started planting in the Trent Valley at Swarkestone where the flat fields and lighter alluvial soil were perfect for market gardening. By the 19 80s Samuel Jackson Growers Ltd was cultivating 800 acres, some of it used for two or three crops of lettuce each year. When other Market Gardens closed, Samuel Jackson’ took over a lot of their land, having decided that the only way to survive, was to get bigger and supply more produce to the wholesale trade and supermarkets.

In response to changing markets in the 1980s and 1990s, Samuel Jackson’s specialised and grew mainly sprouts in winter – 150 acres at their peak – and lettuce harvesting in five acres or 10,000 tons a week for five months each year. The lettuce went to processors, supermarkets, and wholesalers, all over the country. Samuel Jackson’s had a dilemma, to keep the business, they had to look at growers in Spain to supply their customers for the rest of the months or risk losing all the business. They built a relationship with growers in Spain who could supply iceberg lettuce for the rest of the year.

Through the 1990’s the market changed to bagged salad rather than whole head lettuce. With the increase in imports, gradually, Melbourne’s produce became less competitive and most gardeners gave up. John Jackson carried on with the original vegetable growing business until 1999/2000, by which stage profits were low and sales unreliable. Sadly the Market Garden closed at the start of the 21st Century. John Jackson’s still owns Samuel Jackson Growers Ltd and it is now a thriving garden centre – Swarkestone Nursery – in the glasshouses at Swarkestone where they once grew vegetables.

To read more about Samuel Jackson Growers Ltd follow this link

Trent Valley Growers

With the rapid growth of supermarkets and the change in everyone’s shopping habits by the 1980’s it became progressively harder for Melbourne’s Market Gardeners to sell their produce. During the previous decades in response to the changing market Melbourne’s Market Gardeners had changed their style of gardening to specialise in particular produce rather than growing a wide variety of produce to sell at local Markets.

By the later 1970’s the market was very difficult for Samuel Jackson Growers’ produce and Andrew and the other directors of Samuel Jackson Growers agreed that it was time for a change of direction. The business was divided up and Andrew and Peter Barton left and set up Trent Valley Growers Ltd at Barrow on Trent to grow their own produce and act as a distribution hub for other local growers. O J Hattons, Hilary Jackson and other Melbourne Market Gardeners supplied Trent Valley Growers who acted as a hub for a marketing cooperative from Cheltenham.

Trent Valley Growers were growing large quantities of a few crops specialising in Iceberg Lettuces, Kidney Beans and Brussel Sprouts on the flat fields in the Trent Valley.  The company expanded rapidly and when O J Hatton closed in 1989 many of the old workers, including Barry Nadin and Anthony Knight, went to work for Trent Valley Growers at Barrow on Trent, he stayed there for over ten years.

Barry remembered  that when Brussel picking one day with Butch Earp in Weston on Trent it was snowing so hard that that the weight of the snow bought all the pylons behind them down.  They didn’t hear them fall but on turning around couldn’t believe what they saw when they turned around!

In the 1980’s the business grew to £5m turnover supplying big supermarkets including Morrisons, Aldi and Waitrose. At this stage the supermarkets were already prescriptive about look and consistency of produce rather than taste often 60% of production was “below” supermarket standard. They grew quantities to allow for reject rate and the business continued to grow until 1989 when Morrisons took over Safeway and the buying teams merged. The next bean harvest Trent’s sample packs were rejected twice and only 10% of harvest accepted. This led to closure of Trent Valley Growers.

Grace Ryle of OJ Hatton & Sons Ltd

Grace Ryle (née Hatton) was the daughter of Oswald James Hatton, founder of O J Hatton & Sons. From an early age Grace and her siblings Ron, Den and Nora worked on the land and with their mother in the tying-up shed preparing produce for market – bunching radishes and in the winter brussels sprouts; tidying them up; putting them in bags and then into boxes ready to go on the lorry to the market next day. In school holidays Grace loved going to Market with her father. At the market they called Grace “Little Ossi” after her father, Oswald. She loved being on the land and drove the tractor at 13 and passed her driving test at 17. Grace left School at 14 and after just one week in an office never went back! She worked on the land until her sons were born. The Hattons were a very close, happy family and O J Hatton was much loved as a careful and obliging father.

Dennis and Ron didn’t go to war; they were exempt because they were Market Gardeners and they were needed on the land. Towards the end of the war German and Italian prisoners worked on the land. After the war tractors took over from horses and the business expanded rapidly as OJ Hatton brought in lots of innovations. He and Samuel Jackson’s were reputed to be the busiest and the best market gardeners in Melbourne. Oswald was involved in the NFU and regarded as an expert on modern market gardening.

In the 1950’s Grace married Peter Ryle from Castle Donington, who joined the business. The business was expanding and had moved to Hope Street where they had their garaging, storage barns and beetroot sheds, where Hatton Court now stands. Their land was mainly in the Ramsley area and they farmed a big area of land between Station Road and Blackwell Lane from Melbourne to Wilson and a lot at Wilson Hill. OJ Hatton’s still grew a variety of produce but Dennis was innovative and started growing and cooking peas and beetroot to sell. It was a novelty for people to buy cooked beetroot and it was a big seller for OJ Hatton’s. There are many tales about being able to tell what OJ Hatton’s were processing by the rivers of green or red water running down Hope Street! This was a turning point and the company started selling further afield.

By the 1980s OJ Hatton’s was the biggest Market Gardener in Melbourne with a fleet of lorries taking produce all over the country in addition to local Markets in Nottingham, Loughborough and Uttoxeter and the business was employing over 30 people. O J Hatton & Sons were a popular employer and whole families worked for them.

Unfortunately the market for produce changed very quickly. Cheaper produce began to come from abroad and Spanish producers undercut British producers. One Spring OJ Hatton’s had lots of produce and no buyers, their produce wasn’t selling at Nottingham Market. Grace, Peter and their son Andrew took produce up the M1, but couldn’t sell. OJ Hatton’s struggled dramatically when the market changed while other smaller Market Gardeners pulled through. They were dreadful times, OJ Hatton & Sons closed and 30 workers lost their jobs.

To read more about OJ Hatton follow the link

Ken Hatton & Margaret Hall (Hatton) of Isaac Hatton & Sons

Market Gardening was in the blood for the Hatton family. O J Hatton’s brother Isaac Hatton also ran a successful Market garden in Melbourne. His grandchildren Ken and Margaret shared some of their memories of their family with us. The market garden first started at Union Street. Before WW2, Isaac Hatton was working in a shoe factory, when they went off to the War he said that he’d never work inside again, so they moved from Blaby in Leicestershire to Melbourne and started the Market Garden from Union Street.

Later they moved to the Lilypool in Castle Street where they had two pigsties, stables and a loft upstairs to store apples from the orchard in the Lilypool by the house. Downstairs was the tying-up shed where they bunched up radishes, spring onions and when it was very, very cold the brussels sprouts sticks were taken inside for sprout nobbing. Isaac’s sons, Albert and Wilfred both joined their father when they left school. Albert Hatton, lived nearby with his family – Ken & Margaret – in Station Road.

Isaac Hatton grew cauliflowers, brussels, cabbage, leeks, beetroot, spring onions, radishes, mint, potatoes, strawberries, broad beans, kidney beans and rhubarb on land in Station Road, right to the Melbourne Station. He rented from Lord Lothian, and about 10 acres of land at Ramsley owned by Mr May, the Methodist Preacher, where they grew strawberries in Summer. Post war Albert grew lots of beetroot at Ramsley and boiled it in two big coppers, peeled it and put it in trays before taking it to market – at that time they were the only ones boiling it and skinning it for market! There were lots of casual outside workers and at busy times their children came as well. Margaret and Ken worked with their Dad, and helped Mam after school in the afternoons tying up or picking peas.

In the 1940s Isaac Hatton had two brown horses Bonny & Tommy who worked the land but in 1948 they bought their first tractor, an Allis Chalmers, which Ken fondly remembers. From 1956 onwards, Fergie tractors appeared in Melbourne and there was no turning back – various tools could be attached to the Fergie and you could lift it up with three-point linkage to go on road. Albert worked on the land while Wilfred Hatton went to market in Nottingham twice a week. At strawberry time strawberries were picked and sold as soon as they were ripe.

Albert Hatton retired from I Hatton and Sons in 1961, by which time a lot of Melbourne Gardeners had given up as the business was changing so fast. Ken talked to OJ Hatton & Sons about merging I Hatton and OJ Hatton to create a bigger, stronger business. After the merger Ken joined O J Hatton as a tractor driver, having inherited his father’s talent for driving. The new company was the biggest in Melbourne competing with Samuel Jackson’s in Kings Newton. Ken worked with his cousins until OJ Hatton & Sons closed.

To read more about OJ Hatton & Sons follow this link

PHOTOS See Kenneth Hatton folder

Sophia Patchett of Philip Tivey & Sons.

Philip Tivey was the son of a large family living in Pump Lane, New York – ‘Newk’ area, as known by the locals, this area was demolished in the 1960’s clearance, now called Moira Street. Philip started work at the age of 11, when he was sent to work planting the ‘quickening’ Hawthorn Hedges, by the sides of the Railway lines. Philip married Sarah Jane Hall from Ashby in 1886. They lived in Blanch Croft, and had six children: Jack, Clarence, William, Raymond, Sophia and Philip Jr. The family moved from Blanch Croft to Mount Pleasant, now known as Commerce Street, next to Tivey’s shop. The yard had a large gateway opening onto the street, where they sold the produce. In 1914 Philip was offered Breedon View, 92 Victoria Street, at a price of £400 which became the hub of the business for many years.

Raymond married Josephine in 1924; they had two daughters, Sophia and Doreen. William married Edith Bailey they had two sons George and Dennis. The wives had to help out on the land, as did all the Gardeners’ wives. The women worked in rows on hands and knees in their cotton pleated bonnets and coarse aprons made out of the hessian sacks. There was no machinery in those days, only horse and cart, hoes and rakes. Melbourne hoes were ‘swan neck’ hoes, sometimes made by the Gardeners themselves or by the local black smith.

In 1926 during the General Strike, it became difficult to get the produce to Market, so Philip bought his first lorry; they were then able to go to Derby Market, Leicester Market and Jack’s greengrocers shop. As a child Sophia went to Market during school holidays.

In the 1930s Melbourne was a small village; everyone knew one another, whole families lived on the same street. It was all Market Gardens, farms and allotments. Most of the streets had 2 or 3 shops; we could buy everything we needed without going into the cities.

Along came the Second World War and Market Gardeners were suddenly needed now to ‘Dig for Victory’. Sophia later joined the Land Army to do her bit. Nobody expected the war to last for 6 years! German prisoners of war arrived in a camp in Ticknall and were sent to work in the farms and Market Gardens. Rhubarb was very popular during the war, all the Gardeners had rhubarb sheds to get forced rhubarb early, the sheds had to be stoked up to the right temperatures. Lots of rhubarb was grown outside too. Some was sent to Birmingham to the Jam Factories to mix with other fruit to be sold as mixed fruit jam.

During the war when rationing was so strict, Ken recalls feeling Market Gardeners were better off than city people, because all Gardeners had a shot gun, so many a pheasant or rabbit was caught to supplement the rations and people could forage for food such as blackberries and mushrooms. Most of the locals knew where to find the mushrooms and the morels. We were also allowed to keep one pig per family; most homes had a pig sty.

All the family worked for their father Philip, until the business finished in 1957.

To read more about Philip Tivey & Sons follow the link

PLEASE ADD – Philip Tivey as told by Sophia Patchett nee Tivey

PHOTOS – see Sophia Patchett folder

Annette Soar (Nee Cook) of G.Cook & Sons.

James Salsbury of Shaw House, Robinson’s Hill bought Kings Newton Fields in 1883. He was a market gardener, as was his father, Edmund Salsbury. In 1893 he gave it to his daughter, Elizabeth, who was married to Annette Soar’s Great Grandad John Horace Cook. On John Horace’s death their son, George, inherited the business and it became G. Cook and Sons, the sons being Annette’s Uncle, William Horace and George Edmund, her Dad. When Annette was born in 1946 the family living at KNF consisted of Grandad and Grandma, Uncle Horace and Auntie Cath, and Dad and Mum.

They grew brussel sprouts, cauliflowers, various cabbages, leeks, spring onions, peas, beetroot and lettuce. Also there were orchards with apples, pears, plums, damsons and gooseberries. Seeds were sown with a hand drill. The men covered the seed with their feet walking slowly, hands behind them. There was a seed drill which was towed behind the tractor as well, which was originally horse drawn.

‘Stuff getting’ was the market gardening term for harvesting vegetables. Annette used to go out with the men when they were stuff-getting, often finding a cosy little place to curl up and go to sleep. Potatoes were spun out of the ground by the potato spinner behind the tractor and put into a wire basket then emptied into a sack.

Some of the produce was sold locally. There must have been some kind of an arrangement with Collyer’s in Kings Newton because they regularly used to take stuff down there on the dray, but most of it went to the wholesale market at Nottingham. All the boxes and bunches and baskets of stuff were stored in the barn ready for collection by George Garner at Thursday teatime for the Friday market.

When the dinner was ready someone rang the hand bell which hung in the little window at the top of the kitchen, and the men came in, scraping their boots on the boot scraper. Mid- morning and mid- afternoon ‘drinks’ were taken out to them by the women in a basket. A can of coffee in the morning – Camp coffee, sweetened with saccharin, in the afternoon it was tea.

Her Grandad wore a battered old hat with a hole in it which sun shone through and burnt his head, a collarless striped shirt and a weskitt. He took great care looking after his animals. They were well fed and always had plenty of clean bedding. Annette used to go with him to feed the hens in the orchard. There were also three working horses, Prince, Duke and Tommy, about 6 cows, pigs, chickens, Patch the dog and several cats.

  1. E. Cook and Sons’ first tractor was a David Brown. It had a large canvas seat stuffed with horsehair with plenty of room for Annette to sit beside her father while he was ploughing. She remembers the drone of the engine, the smell of warm, freshly turned earth and falling asleep. Her father looked behind most of the time and kept winding handles at the back of the tractor.

Her father always wore a black beret whereas Uncle Horace had a flat cap and leather gaiters. He didn’t drive the tractor but went ‘oss-oein’ (horse hoeing) with Tommy. He was quite reserved. He hadn’t had the advantage of joining the army as Dad had done. He was required to work on the land.

Annette’s father told her about the winter of 1946/7. He described it as a very hard one. The horses stayed in the stables and didn’t lie down for 6 weeks. At the end of that winter there was nothing on the land at all. Everyone was in the same boat. All G. Cook & Sons had was a patch of winter lettuce which had had been covered by snow drifts. When the snow melted the plants lay down flat and wet, but then recovered and made a really good crop. Then nothing till June. ‘It about crippled us.’ When the first peas came on everything began to go right. Crops were perfect as the pests had all been destroyed by the prolonged frost. There were cauliflowers on “Clarence’s Piece”, all perfect, every one sold. Pears sold for £2 per box – a lot of money in 1947.

There were always crowds of Ukrainians to help at harvest time. John Horadzcuk a Ukrainian refugee who lived at Weston Camp arrived on foot looking for a job and Grandad set him on. After a while he got a push bike, then a motor bike. He proved to be a good strong hard worker, as were most of the Ukrainians.   When the camp closed he was offered accommodation at Kings Newton Fields, and an attic room was made into a bedsit for him.

The business survived until Grandads death in 1961 when it was wound up, along with many other local market gardening businesses around that time. Uncle Horace died only a short time later. Annette’s father got a job as a laboratory assistant near Duffield but continued to grow 4 acres of potatoes for some years. Later he rented most of the land to surviving market gardeners.

To read more about G Cook & Sons follow the link

PHOTO George Edmund Cook, Sid Smith, George Cook, William Horace Cook – Annette Soar

PHOTO George Cook, William Horace Cook, George Edmund Cook – Annette Soar   both in Annette Soar Folder

COLIN and BRENDA EARP of Mark Earp & Son, Cockshut Lane, Melbourne

Colin was born at The Orchards at Kings Newton where he lived until he married Brenda Cooper whose Father had Park Farm Isley Walton. He had one sister who was thirteen years older. After Colin married Brenda in 1958 they lived with Colin’s parents and moved into The Butts in Cockshut Lane home early 1959 and lived there ever since.

The business has been in their family for 4 generations. Colin’s Great Grandad was John Earp. His son Mark took over, followed by William and then Colin was born in 1932. In 1919 some of the Melbourne Estate was sold at a public sale at The Public Hall, now Amalfi White on Derby Road. William Earp and Les Astle were bidding for land on Cockshut Lane and the land prices kept going up, Terry Hughley an Estate Agent who worked with a local councillor and was trying to buy up lots of the land and then rent it out at a higher rent. The local Market Gardeners and Farmers were outraged and kept bidding against him. Apparently the sale was held up after an uproar when they threw him out. When the sale resumed Colin’s Grandfather Mark Earp managed to buy the land.

There was around 96 families earning a living from market gardening when Colin was young so competition was high. It was all dependant on the weather if you had a good summer obviously you had a lot of produce, and so did everyone else, so there was more waste. In market gardening you made a fortune one year and lost it the next!

Colin started work at 15, they still had a horse but they had tractors by then. It was extremely hard work especially for the older generation when the only means of transportation was a horse drawn cart. Before they had a lorry Dad, William Earp had to go to Market with a horse and cart, he had to leave at 1am to get to Nottingham for 4am! The wagon was so heavy when it was full of produce that he set off with two horses to get up the hills until they got to the top of Isley Pastures beyond Park Farm. Lots of people did it the second horse was called a “gear horse” the horse was unhitched and taken home while the lead horse pulled the cart to Market, they always took a bag of meal and a bucket for some water so that the horse could eat and drink before the return journey. He didn’t need help on the way home as, hopefully, the wagon was empty! Although the Market usually finished about 8am it was between 12 & 1 O’clock when they got home!

The Earp family sold their produce mainly at Nottingham Market in Sneinton although Brenda also went to Leicester Market. Even when they had a lorry going to Market involved loading the lorry the day before and getting up at 3am to drive to Market for when the main market in Nottingham opened at 4am. The new market opened in 1938 it had road went through middle. Lorries parked either side and wholesalers drove vans through to buy produce.

When Mark was younger and working for Colin he was expected to help at Market. Often he would get in late and not get much sleep, one night he arrived back VERY late as Colin was getting ready to leave, he couldn’t wait for him to change so he went to market in his dinner suit! Mark went into the market café after and didn’t feel out of place as the croupiers from the nearby casino were there having breakfast before heading home to bed.

The main crops were lettuce and salad crops in summer and Cabbage, Cauliflower, Brussels and later Broccoli and Spinach in winter. Spinach was another new crop and was very popular with the large Asian population in Leicester after Idi Amin threw them out of Uganda, they would sell at Leicester Market 3 times a week.

They had a bore hole sunk 56 years ago in 1961 for irrigation. Les Astle had one at the same time and Wilf Astle had another one – their land was either side of Colin Earps. The land is now rented out and Mark, Colin’s Son is a well know business man who owns Staunton Harold nurseries, this was bought 1990/91 it is a thriving business although most of the sales are through the internet.

Waste was always a problem there was one year everyone’s crop came at the same time and the Market was glutted. Colin went to Market with his father with lots of beautiful cauliflower but everyone had them so they got a very low price and virtually had to give them away. A few weeks later we just had a few small yellow cauliflower and got a good price as nobody had them! The Market Gardening industry collapsed with the growth of supermarkets. They used to get excited when a supermarket was opening and announce on the television that it was going to create more jobs but it took away jobs as small greengrocers and other shops closed and small market gardeners lost their customers and couldn’t produce enough to interest the supermarkets. The last two years were bad. Earps weren’t first to give up, a lot went before them.

Sadly apart from Heaths, Jacksons and Sharps nobody is Market Gardening although Mark Earp diversified and opening his garden centre and garden supplies businesses in 1990 and David Smith has The National Forest Spring Water Company using the water which he once used for irrigation and Samuel Jackson Growers led by John Jackson now operates Swarkestone Nursery.

To read more about Mark Earp & Son follow the link

PHOTOS in Colin Earp folder

Denys Collyer and John Statham of Collyer & Son.

Maurice Collyer set up the family Market Gardening business in 1929. Their land sat adjacent to the family home, which was Ivy Cottage on Jawbone Lane, and backed onto Station Road, Melbourne in one direction, and to Main Street, Kings Newton in the other. They continued to live here until Denys was 17 years old, when they moved to a house that was built for them, on Station Road.

Denys left school at the age of 15, and went on to work in the family business with his father and stayed for forty years when he moved on to work for his cousin, T. S. Collyer in Chellaston. Denys continued to grow on a smaller part of the original land, which he would tend to at weekends, with the help of his son.

During the winter, the land would be devoted to growing broccoli, cauliflower and calabrese. In summer, the main crop would be lettuces, they would typically cut these at about six in the mornings, when they would be at their freshest – wet with dew. Radishes and salad onions were also grown. The Collyers also grew strawberries in the summer months. John, Denys’s cousin, recalls the two boys creeping between the rows of strawberries on their tummies as young boys, helping themselves to the biggest and best of the crop, trying to avoid being spotted by Denys’s Dad!

The family got their first greenhouse in 1946, and this is where they would grow their tomatoes, yielding approximately 500lbs a year! John remembers planting the first tomatoes in this particular greenhouse, when he was just 16 years old. They would also use the greenhouses in the winter to raise their early plants, such as brussels sprouts. From 1946 to the mid-1980s, the business sold 50% of its output to R. Vickers & Sons Ltd, who were a produce merchant based in Loughborough. The remaining 50% would be taken for selling at Derby Market. Collyer’s were the first Market Gardeners in the areas to purchase a motorised vehicle, in 1921, to transport their produce to Market. Prior to this, transport would have been a horse-drawn cart

Denys and John both loved Market Gardening, “Every day was different in the world of Market Gardening. One day you would be sowing, the next harvesting!” recalls Denys. Collyer’s also grew some flowers – Sweet Williams, gypsophila and wall flowers, known locally as Gillivers! Denys also recalls the beautiful smell of these following a good morning dew. Denys and Ruth still like to cultivate and sell gypsophila, in fact Denys continues to sell a few of these still, in Swadlincote Market.

To read more about Collyer & Son follow the link

To read more about John Statham follow the link

PHOTOS – see Denys Collyer folder

Peter Worrall – son of Arthur Joseph Worrall of The Limes in Derby Road

Peter Worrall’s parents Arthur Joseph Worrall & Vera Marion Worrall had their own Market Garden in Melbourne. His Grandfather came to Melbourne from Quorn in Leicestershire in the early 1920’s and bought the land which the family farmed. Sadly neither Peter nor his brother Michael went into the family business.

During the winter months they grew lots of Brussels, cauliflowers cabbages and later broccoli. Nobody in Melbourne grew carrots apart from for the family to eat they just didn’t grow very well. Beetroot were very successful. One of Pete’s early childhood memories is of Fred Jackson, at Hawthorn House next door, boiling up beetroot in a copper and peeling them over an old tin bath while Pete played with Fred’s daughter Alice.

Throughout the summer months the family grew lettuce, cucumbers and salad crops including spring onion. The onions were planted in rows using a seed drill and then the Land Girls or casual helpers would have the job of crawling on hands and knees picking out all the weeds when the onions came out. Arthur Worrall had a reputation for his strawberries, he carried on growing his strawberries even after he retired at 65, he grew a variety called “Cambridge Favourite”. People used to come knocking at the door asking for them as they has such a good flavour. Arthur used to take great care of his strawberry plants at the back end of winter he dug between the rows and in May they would lay straw between the rows to protect the fruit from getting splashed with mud when it rained. He set six rows of strawberries a year and they were grown and picked in rotation to make sure plants were healthy. Each summer there were lots of skylarks and they used to build their nests under the strawberry plants.

Towards the end of his working life Arthur, Pete’s Dad used to sell his produce around Melbourne on a Friday and Saturday. He had a Morris Traveller Car and loaded up the back and the roof rack with crates of produce.

PLEASE ADD PHOTOS – see Peter Worrall folder

Hilary Jackson of The Common, Melbourne 

Jenny Jackson and daughter Josephine Raine speaking to Teresa Johnson 8th August 2017

Jenny from Stenson married Melbourne Market Gardener Hilary Jackson in 1964, they lived on Melbourne Common in a brand new bungalow next to Hilary’s parents on the land which had been in the Jackson family for several generations. Hilary’s father and grandfather, and Jenny thinks, great-grandfather were all market gardeners.

Hilary’s father, Grandpa Joe, left his families Market Garden as a young man and married Lily Walden, whose family lived at Woodhouses until the1940’s. At first they lived in an old caravan on their land on The Common until they had enough money to pay to build a house, “Four Winds”, Jenny, Hilary and their daughters had their bungalow built near to where the caravan had been.

Grandpa Joe and Aunt Phil worked very hard, she said if there was work to be done, everybody was there, you needed lots of hands, didn’t you in those days, pre-machine? Their hard work paid off and they had a successful business. Grandpa, Joe Jackson, had two horses that Hilary used to talk about, Jose thinks they were called Charlie and Darkie. Another favourite family story was about when Grandpa had a tractor, when he got to the end of a row with a tractor, when he put his foot on the clutch, he still said, “wowww!” which was a life-long habit!

During Jenny’s lifetime there were a lot of changes which affected the way we live and shop, these have had a huge impact on Market Gardening locally. When Hilary and Jenny first married, they grew a bit of everything, they had market stalls at Ripley and Alfreton and grew produce including strawberries in summer and a few Christmas trees to stock them all year round. There was quite a bit of friendly competition between the different gardeners, as well. Who had the first this and that and the other!

They were thriving then and that carried on until around about 1979 – 1980 when they finally just started selling to wholesale. For a while it crossed over with some wholesale, some retail and farm-gate sales. In the 1970’s Hilary also used to deliver cauliflowers, sprouts, beans and other produce to people in Derby – at this time there was a cultural shift and lots of people had big chest freezers and liked to stock up on frozen veg and do their own. Everything still was grown in quite small volumes.

The main change in Market Gardening was down to the supermarkets and the way that people were buying food was changing from one-stop shops to supermarkets so within a generation Market Gardeners changed from selling at markets to supplying the supermarkets.   Obviously since then, the farmers’ market concept has returned as Hilary said, “everything will turn full-circle” but you can’t imagine the supermarkets losing power now they have that grip.

Between 1978 and the mid-1980’s they were just supplying wholesale markets. So, Hilary Jackson would do his day’s work in the field and then become a delivery driver at night. It was hard work and long hours. He went to the wholesale markets at Derby, Leicester and Nottingham and delivered to Birmingham as well, they all received goods at different times.

In the 1980’s Hilary Jackson supplied through an agency – Grower Marketing Services, GWS, based in Cheltenham and dealt with Marks & Spencer’s and Sainsbury’s amongst others. The produce was delivered them to Trent Valley Growers at Barrow on Trent where they had a pack house which worked on behalf of GMS, they were presumably responding to the same stimulus by creating an outpost, if you like, for Melbourne to deliver to and then it became a hub. They grew salads and that sort of thing to complement what they could offer from that hub. Each Market Gardener had to supply certain things and there was no variety in what they produced. It became a single product in the end, it was just cauliflowers, they had to be very uniform and they had to be ready when the supermarket wanted them. And if the supermarket could get them at a better price from somewhere else, that week, your delivery was cancelled.

To survive you had all of your eggs in one basket by that point, so, you were at their mercy. It wasn’t sustainable, producers focussed on one product, cauliflower won’t grow all year around, it’s not possible to limit your output, and income, to such a short period of the year and to a customer who doesn’t guarantee to buy what you have to sell. The Market gardeners had to sell on the open market, which doesn’t want it and take whatever you can for it. You had no relationship with your customer and they don’t really care about you. It put an end to many generations of market gardeners. Hilary was a very well respected Market Gardener and very active in the Melbourne Market Gardeners Branch of the NFU. It was a sad time as he identified himself 100% as a grower, it was a big blow.

Jose said that “as a way to grow up for a person of my generation, I think it was the best, you had fresh air, a healthy lifestyle and we had such a laugh! We were all together. And I think probably you would find that repeated again and again”. That’s a way of life that is really hard to achieve now, I think. And I think we valued it at the time. It’s not a case of looking back and saying, “I wish we’d appreciated it.” We did appreciate it. I think we knew.

PLEASE ADD Hilary Jackson of The Common 21T Jenny and Josphine Jackson[85445]


Christine Astle, daughter of Fred Dowell

As a child Christine lived at Springwood Cottage until Staunton Harold reservoir was built in 1964, when the family moved to Coppice Farm where they had cows and grew produce. Instead of meeting her friends in Melbourne after school, she had to help on the farm. The children also had to help with planting and picking when the gardens were very busy.

When Fred was young there was no time for resting! If Fred came in from the fields as soon as he sat down his father would say, “there’s no time to be idle” and send him out to do another job. The whole family had a very strong work ethic, that’s why Fred can’t sit down these days! Even after he retired after a lifetime working on the land he couldn’t stay indoors. For years he still had a smallholding in Blackwell Lane and still has the biggest allotment in Blackwell Lane where he works all day, every day.

Vera, Chris’s mum, always worked extremely hard. Throughout Chris’s childhood she remembers her mum cooking for all the family and casual workers. She started her day surrounded by huge frying pans full of eggs, bacon, and sausages for all the men for breakfast. When the men had been fed Vera cooked porridge or cereals for her own four children before they went to School. Once the children were fed she took breakfast to Fred’s parents who also lived with them. When all the dishes were washed Vera headed off to help in the fields until it was time to prepare dinner.

PLEASE ADD PHOTOS from Chris Astle folder

Barry Nadin – Talking about film A Year at OJ Hatton filmed in 1966

Barry was born in 1951, as a schoolboy from Alvaston he worked for O J Hatton & Sons during the Summer holidays and started work fulltime in 1966, he married Barbara Bowman a Melbourne girl, and stayed until 1989 when they closed and he went to work for Trent Valley Growers which had formed from the merger of a number of local market gardens.

Barry had a DVD which he showed us. Filmed by Roger Hatton on cinefilm in 1966 showing the growers in the fields throughout the year from the Beetroot Harvest to Peas, Sprouts, Haymaking, Kidney Beans.

O J Hattons & Sons were a good firm to work for. Most of the Hatton family worked for the firm and the permanent workers were part of the extended family. Throughout the year O J Hatton employed over 30 people full time, at busy times many of the women joined the men in the fields and on Saturdays and School holidays the children helped out. During the summer extra casual workers came by bus from Derby and there could be 70 people working there. Hattons had tractors, forklifts and lots of modern equipment but still most of the work was done by hand. There is a blacksmith still in the village who made their tools and knives for cutting the vegetables.

By the time Barry joined O J Hattons in the 1960’s the main products during the winter were beetroot and marrowfat peas. The beetroot were grown during summer in the fields just off the end of Blackwell Lane, they were dug up in Autumn stored and then cooked and packed throughout the year. Hattons other main product was “Sloppy Peas” made from dried marrowfat peas which were bought in, processed and sold. They often had problems with the drains and the water from boiling the beetroot and peas was tipped into the gutter and you could tell what Hattons had been cooking up by the red or green water flowing down Hope Street towards Commerce Street.

The main winter crop in the fields was Brussel sprouts. O J Hattons grew most of their sprouts at Stanton Field, when they were ready in the Autumn they were picked, nobbed. In the 1960’s sprouts were still picked by hand. When the weather was mild it was a good job, in midwinter when it was frosty or snowy it was harder work as the Brussel sprouts were frosty and your hands ached with the cold. The job was done by hand until machines were introduced in the 1980’s which could separate the sprouts from their stalks.

During the summer in the 1960’s and 1970’s O J Hatton grew acres of kidney beans at Blackwell Lane. The seeds were germinated and then the plants were planted by hand with a small trowel and the wigwams with 4 canes tied together were set up for the beans to grow up. O J Hatton used 200,000 canes each year. When the beans were ready to pick they were picked by hand and put into 20lb boxes, at peak times In the 1960’s & 1970’s OJ Hatton packed 4000 boxes of kidney beans a day in the late summer months. OJ Hatton had 350 acres by the 1980’s. They grew 100,000 cauliflowers a year All the cauliflowers had to cut within a few weeks otherwise they started to flower and go to seed.

Vegetables went to Ripley, Alfreton, Clay Cross, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester, right up to Bradford and Ron Hatton used to go to Sneinton Market in Nottingham.

Geraldine Timmins remembering her Mother, Ivy Rodgers who worked for OJ Hatton

pic Ivy Rodgers Beetroot packing at Hatton closeup Feb 1959 currently on page

Ivy Rodgers worked O.J. Hattons in the 1950’s & 60’s. The Rodgers family lived in Quick Close, in the house which originally belonged to Thomas Cook (the inventor of modern holidays).

At that time Hattons had their garaging, storage barns and beetroot sheds in Hope Street where Hatton Court now stands. Their land was mainly in the Ramsley area and they farmed a big area of land between Station Road and Blackwell Lane from Melbourne to Wilson. Den (Dennis) Hatton lived in the detached house after the last Terrace House in Hope Street before what is now Hatton Court. Ron Hatton lived in Quick Close.

Hatton’s were the biggest and most innovative Market Gardener in Melbourne at the time started processing and selling cooked beetroot in plastic packs and peas. At the time selling cooked beetroot was a novelty.

Ivy’s favourite job was in the beetroot shed where they cooked, skinned, prepared and packaged the beetroot ready for Market. It was warm in there and everyone worked together.

PLEASE ADD PHOTOS from Geraldine Timmins Folder

Sheila Blood – The daughter of Henry Dove the inventor of The Melbourne Hoe

Walter Jackson who lived at The Hollies in Derby Road was Sheila Blood’s Great Grandfather. Walter and his wife Fanny had thirteen children. The family were very successful Market Gardeners on the land at the end of Cockshut Lane, they grew a variety of vegetables and strawberries which they sold at Derby Market. They were Methodists and always went by Carriage to the Methodist Chapel. Fanny was known as “Satin Fanny” as she was always well dressed.

Several of Walter’s sons became Market Gardeners including Samuel Jackson of Kings Newton, Ewart Jackson of Ramsley Fields and Walter Jackson of Sladefield House.

Annie Jackson the eldest daughter of Walter and Fanny Jackson married Henry Richard Dove who was a blacksmith with a forge in Derby Road, where Doves Garage is today. Henry made tools for the local Market Gardeners. His son Henry Richard Dove Junior joined him in the Forge when he left School they made spades and hoes, repaired gardeners implements and ploughs. He would buy shafts and then made blades for the spades and hoes. Following conversations with the Market Gardeners Henry Junior, Sheila Bloods Father, designed a swan-necked hoe – the Melbourne Hoe – which was patented to protect the design, they are still used today.

With the growing popularity of motorised vehicles developing from a blacksmith to a mechanic was a natural progression and Sheila’s Uncle Walter had the first car in Melbourne. He had a taxi business and ran the Telephone Exchange at Exchange House in Potter Street. The petrol pumps were installed in the 1930 and as cars became more popular the blacksmiths declined.

Although everyone worked very hard Melbourne had a real sense of community and everyone was close. A highlight of the year was always Melbourne Market Gardeners Carnival and Fete. The Market Gardeners Association organised it and the decorated lorries and people in fancy dress processed around the village and along Pool Road to Kings Field. Sheila’s parents Henry and Annie Dove were Carnival King and Queen twice! After the procession everyone dressed in their best clothes and headed down to Kings Field where big marquees were set up for Teas, bands played and there were attractions for children. People laid pennies along the wall at the edge of Melbourne Pool and the money was donated to The Women’s Hospital in Friargate Derby.

PLEASE ADD PHOTOS from Sheila Blood folder

Jack Sylvester at Wisteria House – told by Lynn Wood 3rd June 2017

Lynn’s grandmother Maggie’s first husband Charles was Head Gardener at Melbourne Hall died leaving her a widow with young children. Maggie’s first husband was older than her, Maggie was a friend of his daughter from his first marriage, his first wife and daughter died of TB and Maggie moved in as his housekeeper and then they married and had a family. After he died Maggie married Jack Sylvester and they lived in Wisteria House with Jacks daughter Win.

When you see Wisteria House in Church Street now it’s hard to believe it was until the 1970’s a small Market Garden. The orchard extended to the Church and the back of Potter Street. There was a big Apple Barn with a loft above and garage downstairs, you walked through and archway next to the Barn to get into the orchard. At the back of the house was a greenhouse and storage sheds. Over the wall you could see the bombed out stables and old Fire Station.

For many years after he retired Jack Sylvester ran a small market garden in the orchard behind Wisteria House in the area which was built on in the 1970’s to create Chantry Close. Although he had retired from his smallholding Jack worked hard every day. Jack grew soft fruit, vegetables and flowers in the orchard and tomatoes in the glasshouse. He also reared chickens for their eggs and meat. Chicken was a luxury in those days and Jack took orders for chicken ready for Christmas and Easter. The chickens lived in the hen house and chicken run and at busy times were also kept in the barn and in the glasshouses. Lynn’s mother came to Melbourne each Wednesday to help Jack and Maggie. The produce and eggs were sold from the dining room, the only time it was cleared was for Christmas.

For most of the year life revolved around work but at high days and holidays Jack played the Piano, not very well, and Maggie played the violin, excrutiatingly! When we visited at Christmas we were sooo pleased when their performance ended. Everyone had a party piece in those days as they had to make their own entertainment.

Maggie died of Breast Cancer in 1959 and sadly Win, Jack’s daughter, died of breast cancer a few years later at which point Lyn’s family lost contact with Jack.

PHOTOS – Photo from tower of Melbourne Paris hurch Wisteria house and Sylvesters centre and top of photo

If you would like to read more about Melbourne’s Market Gardeners please click the links below:

Ladies on the land – Vera Donachie told by Jean Grimley

Carol Simpson nee Baker Market Gardening Memories

Sue Olumide talks about her Great Grandfather was Edmund Salsbury

Irene Brown talks about Joseph Toon and Jackson family edited Nov 17

Interview with George Hudson – Casual Worker at Heaths of Melbourne 2017

Jim Dawson Interview