Whaley Bridge’s garden show, last of the town’s big summer events, was a great success. Good summer weather had provided some bumper vegetable specimens, with giant cucumbers and onions, well developed parsnips, some very fine dahlias and that Whaley favourite, monstrous marrows.
Tomatoes, too, were outstanding. They brought back golden memories for veteran grower Eric Townend. The 82-year-old, at Whaley Bridge bowling club to judge vegetable entries, remembered vividly a truss of 16 tomatoes he had grown to win a blue ribbon for best in show at the Whaley event 50 years ago to the day.
Eric, a machine operator at Ferodo for 35 years, brought along his carefully preserved blue ribbon from Saturday 5 September, 1964, when the Whaley show was held in the old parish hall opposite Holy Trinity church. In his winning truss were 15 red and one green tomato.
Eric recalls: “Home-grown tomatoes are much better than bought ones. You can put them in the fridge for a month, and they are still perfect. I was able to show my truss at Buxton a week later and a few days after that at Burbage. They won best of show two more times.”
A golden anniversary, indeed. Eric is still growing tomatoes at his Buxton home: in a plastic tunnel and a greenhouse.
Some white dahlias, winner of best in show, were admired by visitors. Gena Slater, the show’s treasurer, and committee member Loraine Coverley, took time out to enjoy the perfect blooms. The show also featured fruit – a good year for apples – and children’s inventive creations. Who would imagine a banana, with a strategic knife cut, could look like a dolphin? Home produced honey, jams and baking were a treat for the judge who naturally had to taste them all!