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 to 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 counties 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 http://hannahbarker.net/about/