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The Forgotten Fruit

Ribes uva-crispa, better known as the Gooseberry, recipient of hours of devotion

Egton Bridge, eight miles from Whitby in the North York Moors National Park, is the setting for the oldest surviving gooseberry show in the country, established in 1800.  The show is held on the first Tuesday in August each year by the Egton Bridge Old Gooseberry Society.

 

The 2009 show was truly a record breaking event.  Champion grower Bryan Nellist took the R. Harland Challenge Cup with, at the time, a record breaking berry.  Coming in at exactly 35 drams (2.19 oz. or 62.0 grams) the Woodpecker berry was the heaviest ever shown in the United Kingdom, beating Kelvin Archer’s previous record by just over 2 grains or 0.1 grams.  It was recognised as an official World Record.  Bryan’s success received widespread coverage in the local and national press.  The Whitby Gazette hailed it as “Bryan’s berry best in world” (follow this link to see the full article, reproduced by kind permission of Whitby Gazette). 

The Middlesbrough Evening Gazette proclaimed “Bryan smashes fruity record” (follow this link to see the full article, reproduced by kind permission of the Middlesbrough Evening Gazette).

Kelvin Archer has subsequently reclaimed the World record but Bryan’s berry remains the heaviest ever entered into competition.

Bryan Nellist with his record breaking berry

©Middlesbrough Evening Gazette 2009

Copyright © Egton Bridge Old Gooseberry Society.  All rights reserved

Egton Bridge

Gooseberry Show

The 2017 show saw some excellent entries, but no new records.  The 2017 show became a tale of two growers, in one corner the seven-time defending champion, Graeme Watson of Ainthorpe and facing him a Maiden grower, Trevor Legg of Roxby.  It was a close and well fought competition with many experienced growers playing supporting parts to the main protagonists.  Graeme Watson took early honours, becoming an eight-time champion, with five in a row, by winning the Harland Trophy for heaviest berry with a yellow Millennium weighing 31 drams, 11 grains (nearly 56g).  Trevor Legg showed his credentials though by taking the maiden prize with the third heaviest berry. 

Graeme Watson, eight time show champion

Trevor Legg, First Maiden and Champion Grower

Although Graeme Watson also took the prizes for heaviest twins and 12 berries, Trevor Legg’s consistency across all of the categories (including heaviest six, maiden twins and maiden six) meant that he claimed his first Champion Grower title, and the W Graham Challenge Cup, by a single point over Graeme.  This could be just the first round in a new battle of the champions that brings back memories of former champions and monster gooseberries!

 

The 2018 show will be held on Tuesday 7th August and it is open to the public from 2 PM.  There will be music playing in the afternoon and the prize giving will begin at 6 PM.