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Happy memories of picking Pershore plums with land girls
10:00am Friday 27th July 2012 in Countryside
IN Tiddesley Wood in 1827 George Crooks spotted a wild plum that after many years of careful nurturing was to become the fruit known as the Pershore.
Vale historian Michael Barnard has been talking with reporter Gerry Barnett about it
THE luscious plum was first grown in a small orchard close to Gig Bridge, an area north of the Worcester Road, Mr Barnard said.
A cross between two plums grown for Mr Walter Martin, of Drakes Broughton, in 1890 produced the Pershore Purple Egg.
These two plums were were the forerunners of probably the finest dessert plums of all time.
“As a market gardener all my working life and having climbed more plum picking ladder rungs than I care to remember, it is sad after so many years that few purples and even fewer Pershore yellow eggs can now be found in the Vale,” Mr Barnard said.
Mr Barnard’s picture is a kaleidoscope of treasured memories of the heyday of the fruit picking seasons during the conflict years of the 1940s.
As a teenager, his days were divided between his ATC duties at RAF Pershore and picking Pershore plums in the family orchards at Badsey.
“When a load of LBG bushel boxes, which weighed a ton even before you started putting plums into them, arrived outside our orchards, I knew that my visits to the Pershore airfield would be put on hold,” he recalled.
“However, the weekends were when Ted Hemmings and I put away our picking baskets and cycled over to No 1 Ferry Unit, RAF Pershore, hoping to add to our flying logs.”
The picture includes their Wellington bomber approaching landing after crossing Tiddesley Wood in 1944, while Land Girls weigh the Pershores in an orchard just outside the town.
The steam engine is the Bulldog class loco No3353 Pershore Plum, a much sought-after locomotive for their train spotters notebooks.
“All wonderful teenage memories of time gone by, remembering especially the long hours plum picking and the next morning’s anxious look at the prices in the pink slips at Evesham’s Top Market – No 902 I recall,” said Mr Barnard.
Mr Barnard said he was gratefully indebted to Mr Melvin Crooke of Evesham, for all his help with the history of the Pershore plum.
He added: “Melvin displays a stained glass window above the front door of his shop in High Street, Evesham, a proud link with with his great grandfather’s find in Tiddesley Wood in 1827.”