The Allostock Gooseberry Association
Where: The Crown,Lower Peover
Gooseberry growing is a serious business in Cheshire where the annual gooseberry shows are held. Shows are staged to judge the heaviest single gooseberry, the heaviest ‘gooseberry twins’ (two berries on the same stalk), the heaviest ‘gooseberry triplets’ (three berries on the same stalk) and the heaviest plate of 12 (paper plate with 12 berries collected together).
Dating back to 1800’s, the shows generate a lot of local excitement and at their peak in the 1800’s, there were more than 120 gooseberry shows held in the regions of Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cheshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire. Today, the shows are limited to Cheshire and one at Egton Bridge in Yorkshire and attract about 100 entrants. At the shows, the weight of each gooseberry is carefully recorded in pennyweights and grains. The largest gooseberry ever entered in the competition was as large as a hens egg and weighed in at around 39 pennyweights or 2.18 ounces. This was grown by Kelvin Archer who has produced the heaviest gooseberries on more than five occasions.
Jim Hart today wins many prizes.In 2015 he won the Association Cup for the heaviest berry in Cheshire. Allostock hosted the Association Dinner at The Crown ,Lower Peover.
This year 2020 the show did go ahead with limited numbers and social distancing and Jim Hart won with his Premier Berry Millenium ,weighing in at 33 pennyweights and 8 grains.
Jim has retired as secretary, to contact the Society email
Gooseberry shows date from 1800, when the first club was established at Egton Bridge in Yorkshire. At one time there were hundreds of clubs but gradually times changed and the popularity of the gooseberry shows waned. Today only nine clubs survive in the whole country – Egton Bridge in Yorkshire and the remaining eight in Cheshire, which was at the centre of the gooseberry growing world in the mid nineteenth century. The remaining clubs are: Allostock, Holmes Chapel, Goostrey, Marton, Lower Withington, Swettenham and Crown of Peover. The Cheshire clubs form the Mid – Cheshire Gooseberry Shows Association which is supported by the Cheshire Landscape Trust with support from the Heritage Lottery fund.
Allostock Gooseberry Society was established in 1898. The club met at The Drovers Arms almost continuously for over a hundred years, with the exception of a few years in the 1980’s when it decamped to the Three Greyhounds. The club went through a particularly successful period in the 1960’s and were the winners of the Association Cup in 1967 for the heaviest berry of that year in Cheshire. It now meets at the Crown Inn,Lower Peover.
The club has had many successful growers over the years, amongst them Tom Hickson who cultivated a new seedling which he named ALLOSTOCK after his club. Jim Eyres won the Cup in 1967 and Dick Latham of Brook House Cottage was a well known grower in the 1920’s. Jim Hart is today winning many prizes.
Show gooseberries are still weighed in pennyweights and grains and competition is fierce. The Allostock Gooseberry Show is held every year usually on the first Saturday in August and following the closure of the Drover’s, the show is now held at the Crown Inn, Lower Peover. Local businesses sponsor the show and their generous support is much appreciated. If anyone is interested in becoming a new member and carrying on the tradition, contact