Manchester Histories Festival

Manchester's Apple Market with Hannah Barker

Monday 2 November 2015

On Apple Day (21 October) Helping Britain Blossom launched a scheme in Manchester that aims to restore and create 100 community orchards in the UK by 2017. As part of the launch they brought back to life Manchester’s apple market that used Black and white photograph sketch of Fennel Street in Manchester in 1820 showing different buildings and a man on a horse crossing the streetto exist on Fennel St in the City Centre, hoping to encourage volunteers and to locate some of the region's forgotten orchards. I went along to provide some historical context.

Though Manchester’s main market during the eighteenth century was in Market Place, by the later part of the century lack of space led to a series of specialized markets setting up in adjoining streets, when the Apple or Fruit market moved to Fennel Street. Here it remained from 1769 to 1846 when the market made way for road improvements.

The Apple Market in Manchester was the traditional name for the town’s fruit market. Although other types of fruit were sold here, apples dominated the fruit trade from at least the eighteenth century, hence the market’s name.

Roger Scola, who traced the food supply of Victorian Manchester in his book, Feeding the Victorian City: The Food Supply of Manchester 1770-1870 (1992) noted that whilst apples arrived to the town from countiesImage of a deed map of Manchester from 1760 - 1783 in colour showing orchards growing near Shudehill in Manchester. Image courtesy of Chetham's Library such as Worcestershire and Herefordshire, they were also grown more locally in the market garden-districts around Warrington and Stretford as well as in a large number of small mixed farms.

We can also see evidence of apple growing right in the centre of town in a deed map dating from c.1760-1783 held at Chetham's Library. This shows in unusual detail a series of plots around Shude Hill – a mere stone’s throw from the site of the Apple Market. Here we can see what look to be two small orchards in the gardens of two properties. Hopefully we will soon see more small orchards in and around greater Manchester.

Hannah is Professor of British History at the University of Manchester, Historical Advisor to the National Trust's Quarry Bank Mill and Chair of Manchester Histories. You can read more about Hannah's research on her website

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