December 31, 2018|

Arthur Alfred Shawyer of Wickham Common

In my boyhood days the market gardeners around Wickham particularly in Hundred Acres were devoted to strawberry growing in a very big way.

The bulk of the fruit was sent by special fruit trains all over the country.

One of the best known characters of those days was Mr John Baker who used to come from Penzance in Cornwall at the beginning of each season and buy most of the fruit sent by rail.

He worked on a commission basis. The season would last about eight weeks or more.

Pickers had to be in the fields busy picking just after dawn and would still be picking at 10 o’clock in the evenings.

Most of the strawberries were taken to the station by horse drawn vans, and I can remember being in a queue of such vans stretching from the station down Mill Lane to the Church.  At that time we had a pony quite famous locally for his speed which was an advantage in trying to get to the trains and unload first.  We needed to take three van loads a day.

From the WHS Archives (undated)

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