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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 2019 show was another record breaking event.  Defending champion Graeme Watson produced a truly amazing berry which has regained the world record for Egton Bridge.  The gooseberry was initially assessed using the society's traditional Avoirdupois system, which logged a weight of 36 drams plus 12.5 grains (rounded down to 12 grains in the register).  However, a secondary measurement taken on a set of digital scales, which can provide a more precise reading, wielded a slightly greater weight of 64.83 g; this latter weight was the measurement accepted for the record by Guinness World Records Ltd.

The yellow Millennium berry beat Kelvin Archer’s 

Graeme Watson with his record breaking berry

Photo © Own Humphreys/PA Media

Copyright © Egton Bridge Old Gooseberry Society.  All rights reserved

Egton Bridge

Gooseberry Show

existing 2013 record by just 1 grain.  The BBC News website declared “Yorkshireman grows the ’Holy Grail’ of gooseberries”. 

Overall the standard of entries for 2019 was high with many large berries on display, though none as large as Graeme’s!  In total he set four new society records, In addition to the heaviest ever berry (and heaviest yellow) he has now claimed:

· Heaviest red at 30 drams, 11 grains

· Heaviest white at 31 drams and 1 grain, beating the long standing record held by Tom Ventress since 1952!

· Heaviest plate of 12, coming in at a whopping 23 ounces, 2 drams and 9 grains (over 656 g) meaning each berry averaged over 1.9 ounces.

In 2018 the 12 visitors from the Skillinge Gooseberry show in Sweden recreated this classic old picture in the grounds of the Horseshoe Hotel, Egton Bridge

Graeme has now become a ten-time champion, with seven in a row.  In the competition for the Champion Grower points are awarded for the first ten places in the six main categories, these being the four colours of single berries, twins and the heaviest twelve.  In 2018 Graeme achieved a near perfect score, missing a maximum by just a single point but this year he dropped back a little but still won.  The elusive gooseberry maximum will remain unclaimed for another year.

In 2018 the show was graced by the presence of 12 members of the Skillinge Gooseberry Society from Sweden.  Over 25 years ago their chairperson, Berit Åkesson saw a small glimpse of the show on the BBC and was so fascinated that a new gooseberry show was born and 2018 saw the Skillinge Krusbärsfestival celebrate its tenth anniversary with a visit to its inspiration.

The 220th show will be held on Tuesday 4th August 2020 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.  Members are reminded that berries must be with the judges by midday at the latest.

Cancellation of 2020 Egton Bridge Old Gooseberry Show

 

It is with regret that the Egton Bridge Old Gooseberry Society committee has reached the inevitable conclusion that the 2020 edition of then oldest gooseberry show in the world has to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The safety of our members and visitors is our principle priority and we can see no way to even hold a ‘socially distanced’ show.  We are confident that we will be flooded with tales of monster berries robbed of their moment of glory, it is amazing how berries that never make it to the show are the largest ever grown.

 

All being well we will return in 2021 and in the meantime, we wish all our members, supporters and friends best wishes, stay safe and tend those bushes with all the TLC they richly deserve.  We would welcome any pictures of the berries that would have been so that next year we can at least have a display of the show that would have been.