Gooseberry growing is an older tradition than the traction engines seen in the village of Goostrey. Competitive Gooseberry growing started in the late 1700’s and reached its peak of popularity in the mid 1800’s. The first Gooseberry show in Goostrey was in 1863 but folded a few years later. Once there were over 200 gooseberry shows in England and Wales but now are in the east corner of Cheshire – places like Swettenham, Holmes Chapel and Lower Peover, with perhaps the most famous event run by the Goostrey Gooseberry Society. The current Gooseberry Society has been going since 1897.
Frank Carter is a Goostrey gooseberry legend. A Blackden man all his life, he bred 17 new cultivars, one of them – Montrose – a regular prize berry. Guardian of local history The Blackden Trust, is archiving material relating to the shows, and has a living record of Mr Carter’s work here in our village.
Many of the competition varieties today were bred by Frank Carter, a Goostrey gooseberry legend. He bred 17 new cultivars, one of them – Montrose – a regular prize berry. He lived at Toad Hall (current home to Alan and Griselda Garner). Griselda has the collection of Frank’s varieties at the Blackden Trust.
There is quite a lot of hortictural skill required to grow the big berries. The Gooseberry Society President, Terry Price has been growing for over 50 years and even showed Percy Thrower, a TV gardening celebrity how to prune gooseberries.
With only eight gooseberry societies left, when most disappeared after the 1st World War with the loss of many growers taken to the armed forces plus also the introduction of American mildew, which devastated gooseberry crops, the Goostrey members stood tall and their social group still remains after two world wars, and Covid issues.
If you are interested in learning how to grow gooseberries, or to join one of the societies, then please take a look at the link below. Goostrey Gooseberry Society is always looking for new members who live in the village.
For information on the next Goostrey Gooseberry show, please keep a look out on our events page!
Researcher and Writer