Saturday, 23 February 2013

Society Saturday - Green Fingers at the Marske Show

My great-aunt Lillian Barton, loved to garden and was an active member of her local gardening society right into her 70s.  Lillian may not have known it, but gardening was a long standing interest in the family of her paternal grandmother Eliza 
Ditchburn (1856-1930).

Eliza Ditchburn's family came from the village of Marske-by-the-Sea which is just south of Middlesbrough.  Her family, through her Bryden, Hartforth and Potts ancestors, can be traced back in the village right back into the 16th Century.

The Ditchburn family's gardening interests were shared by large numbers of Marske residents and from August 1875, the annual Marske Horticultural, Industrial and Live Stock Society show was a highlight of village life bringing together people from right across the class divide.

Held in marquees between the railway station and Marske Hall, the fantastic collection of competitions at the show provide a snapshot of life in a village, which in just 30 years had been transformed from a sleepy fishing hamlet to an industrial mining village at the heart of the world's biggest iron stone mining industry.
Eliza Ditchburn whose father Robert
won a second prize for cottager pigs! 

There were the typical gardening competitions for potatoes, cabbages, onions, turnips, carrots, swedes, kidney beans, broad beans, beetroots and the fabulously named mangel wurzel, which traditionally was used for both animal feed and brewing.  And there were animal rearing competitions for poultry, pigeons, cottager pigs (Eliza's father won second prize!), rabbits, horses and foals plus a horse leaping competition!

By the 1890s, competitions had been added for canary breeding, drawing, penmanship, knitting, kite making, mechanical model making and washing the "cleanest cloth in 3 minutes and correctly pegging it on the line!"  

The event, with music from the Upleatham Mines Band, had grown tremendously in size, and was now regularly written up in the York Herald, Northern Echo and Middlesbrough Daily Gazette.  

It could also command the attendance of various local grandees including the Archdeacon, the local conservative politician A.J.Dorman and Mr Herbert Pike Pease, the 1st Baron Daryngton whose family business, Pease and Partners Ltd, owned the local Lingdale, Loftus and Upleatham mines in which many of Marske's residents worked. 

Source: Mike Holliday's New Marske History
But a common delight once a year in gardening and other hobbies could not paper over the deep social divisions in Marske and the surrounding mining villages.  Conditions for the miners were harsh and there were regular strikes including a particularly bitter one in 1912 calling for a minimum wage for miners.  

The strike - just like the Marske show - brought the whole village out in support - with music again provided by the Upleatham Mines Band - but on this occasion it was to march to the nearby village of Skelton to hear speeches from the Labour politician Kier Hardie not the local mine owners.

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1 comment:

  1. Just joined you on pinterest. I'm on pinterest as well--primarily for Genealogy.

    Regards, Grant