VS #1513: Hedge End
Hedge End is a town and civil parish to the east of Southampton in Hampshire, England. It has a population of about 20,790 (as of 2011).The original hamlet developed on Botley Common after 1250 when it was granted to the men of Botley as common pasture. After 1267, when royal charters allowed Botley to hold an annual fair and a weekly market here, Hedge End slowly developed into a market town.
Traditionally known as ‘The Strawberry Coast’, Hedge End and its neighbouring villages have a long association with production of the soft fruit. In the early 20th century the strawberry fields of the area around Hedge End produced about 20,000 strawberries a day. (That's roughly half of what is eaten daily at Wimbledon.)
June was the main harvesting month for strawberries and it was usual for whole families to be involved. They would get up at 4am, and on arrival at the fields, be given four three-pound baskets (often made by the inmates of Winchester Prison. ) These would have to be filled as soon as possible to load onto the 8am ‘Strawberry Special’ train out of Botley station, for early delivery to the best London hotels.
The pickers would tie three baskets around their waist and hold the other to pick into. Once they were all full, they were taken to a weighing and packing shed and the picker would be given a disk, worth tuppence (h’penny a basket). At the end of the day the disks would be counted and recorded and at the end of the week, redeemed. It is on record that one 12 year old girl picked 30 shillings worth by the first Friday – an astonishing 900lbs of strawberries, and 3000 lbs (1000 baskets) over one month.
Strawberries are still grown in the area and families continue to pick them together in local farms each summer.
****************** Village signs is a series of caches based on the ornate signs that depict the heritage, history and culture of the villages that put them up (normally on the village green!). The signs can be made of different materials from fibreglass to wood, from forged steel to stone. They can depict anything from local industry to historical events. The tradition probably stated in Norfolk or Suffolk and has now spread across most of the country so we thought we would base a series on them!
If anybody would like to expand this series please do. I would just ask that you let Smokeypugs know first so they can keep track of the Village Sign numbers and names to avoid duplication.