About Pershore Plums
Orchards in this area produce tons of popular plums every year – Varieties such as Victoria, Majorie Seedling, Heron, Monarch, Pershore Purple, Pershore Yellow Egg Plum and Pershore Emblem are some of the most well known and sought after plums the Vale produces.
Pershore and its association with the plum is not a new thing, the area has been famous for its fruit growing since medieval times. Early in the 19th century the Pershore Yellow Egg Plum was found growing wild in Tiddesley Wood and by 1870 records show that over 900 tons of the fruit were being sent to market during harvest time.
At the Pershore Flower Show in 1920, a poster advertising the event described it as “The Largest Plum Show on Earth” and over ninety years later the town is striving to recreate this spectacle.
To celebrate this famous fruit, Pershore holds a Plum Festival throughout the month of August, when the town will turn “plum crazy” and the grand finale of this festival will be the Plum Fayre and Farmers Market on August Bank Holiday Monday.
With the whole town turning purple and offering something for all the family, the Plum Fayre is definitely the place to visit for a “fruity” experience.
History of the present day Plum Fayre
The Plum Fayre was resurrected in 1996 by local environmentalist, David Shaw and local historian, Marion Freeman, to help raise the awareness and profile of the market town of Pershore and its association with plums. Expert horticultural assistance came to the committee in the form of John Edgeley, from the local college, who offered answers to visitor’s questions, as well as arranging for a selection of plums to be available.
Ron Jaynes from Norton not only arranged a collection of oil engines to be displayed in St Andrews Gardens, but also thrilled visitors and locals alike with his “Old Pershore” slideshow. Charity stalls were invited to take part in the event and journalists from the television programme ‘Heart of the Country’ visited. Barrel organs and street entertainment added to the festivities, and the vicar, Martin Coombs, conducted at the Abbey a ‘Songs of Praise’ type service, with readings and an exhibition showing the history and growth of plum in the area.
All of these activities along with others added since 1996 have continued to produce a brilliant festival celebrating the plum history in and around the town of Pershore.
The story of the plum… by Lynn Pedley
Pershore loves its plums and every August it dresses up its elegant town in purple for the Plum Festival which celebrates the strong commitment the town still has to its fruit growing heritage.
Plums in Britain originated from fruits hundreds of years ago in such exotic climes as Damascus, Syria, Persia or Armenia. But the Pershore story starts in the 1830’s when the landlord of the Butcher’s Arms pub in Church Street discovered a seedling of a wild plum growing in the ancient Tiddesley Wood on the outskirts of Pershore. This became known as the Pershore Yellow Egg Plum.
Then around 1890 Mr.Walter Martin of Drakes Broughton tried a plum experiment in which he transferred pollen from the Old Black or Purple Diamond to the Rivers Early Prolific. It was named Martin’s Seedling but soon became better known as the hugely popular Purple Pershore. The Horticultural Society recognised this by registering this versatile plum as Martin’s Purple Pershore.
“When we decided to introduce a new event to Pershore’s calendar, we thought it a good idea to celebrate the rich heritage of the local plum industry, following research. We annually introduced new displays and attractions with the event growing year by year.” Marion Freeman – Local Historian
During the food shortage of the First World War Pershore fruit and plums were transported by train throughout the country. This was commemorated in 1927 with Great Western Railways naming the first and only train after a fruit…The Pershore Plum!
The juicy reputation of the area’s plums was also remembered in a horse race, the popular ‘The Land O’Plums Chase’. After 72 years, in celebration of the continued success of the area’s plums – Worcester Race Course has revived this historic race which is run in August as part of Pershore’s Festival celebrations.
Today, Pershore plums continue to show their versatility as a fruit, at the Festival you can taste plums in a range of products from chutneys, to cheeses, sausages, puddings, beer and even in soap!
Plums are now considered a superfood being a good source of carbohydrate, low in fat and calories, an excellent source of vitamin A and C, calcium and magnesium, potassium, iron and fibre. They are also free of cholesterol and sodium. Then there is the ancient drink Plum Jerkin which is still made from various local, usually secret recipes and will certainly warm the cockles if you try some.
“The Vale has ideal growing conditions and shelter from the local hills, Bredon, Malvern hills and the Cotswold escarpment, deep rich fertile soil, generally mild winters and warm summers. I feel that it is important that we keep these traditions alive for generations to come.” Alan Gregg – Horticultural Lecturer at Pershore College
In present times the prospect of global warming and warning from government that the number of air miles that our food costs us should be reduced. We have the land out here in Worcestershire and expert knowledge that lives on from generations of plum growers.
Pershore still has direct descendants of the Yellow Egg Plum founder including Mr. Mervyn Crook still living in the town and the plum trees descended from the originals are still lovingly tended by Mr Francis Roberts in Lower Moor. Then there has been the creation of a new Pershore plum, the Emblem by local man Mr Ged Witts which is delicious and ripens later than the Egg or Purple.
With so much history and love for this jewel of a fruit local environmentalist David Shaw and local historian Marion Freeman resurrected the town’s ‘Plum Fayre’ event in 1996.
This has now developed into a month’s long festival including Saturday market stalls, horse racing, orchard visits, tastings, music and pure enjoyment of our gorgeous little friend…The Plum. We hope you enjoy your visit to Pershore.