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Cucumbers

For many years cucumbers have played an important role within the Lea Valley nurseries. The Rochford`s were experienced growers, with Tom II in particular cultivating considerable amounts during the Great War. When Joseph Rochford began his new life in Turnford in 1882 his only competition was one other market grower, a gentleman named Thomas Hamilton who grew cucumbers. Today cucumber production remains... 

Covent Garden Market

The Lea Valley was a prime location for nurseries, not least because of the areas relative closeness to Covent Garden Market. The likes of the Rochford`s took full advantage of this factor, selling some of their finest produce which in the early days was brought down on a horse and wagon. It was at Covent Garden Market that Michael Rochford (1819-83) sold his beloved Black Hamburgh, a grape of such... 

The Pineapple

The pineapple is a prime example of the exotic fruits which were grown in English nurseries. Originating from Paraguay and the Southern parts of Brazil, the pineapple became an extremely popular fruit in English markets and was readily associated with wealth and extravagance. The pineapple was so popular at Covent Garden Market it even became the sites emblem. Whilst there is some debate as to when... 

The Great Eastern Railway

The Great Eastern Railway was formed in 1862 having amalgamated with the Eastern Counties Railway and a number of smaller railways. Its development would have a profound effect on three main types of traveller; the commuter, the agriculturalist and those going on holiday. London was now more accessible than ever and villages such as Tottenham quickly developed into bustling suburbs. Whilst this sudden... 

Tomatoes during the War

Whilst all of the nurseries specialized in their own personal produce the outbreak of World War 2 was to force all of the growers in the same direction. The days of roses and grapes were over as the government introduced new legislation banning the production of non-essential produce. Tomatoes were now the crop of choice and it was up to the growers, regardless of any problems they might have faced,... 

Lea Valley Nurseries

By the 1930s the Lea Valley had a higher concentration of greenhouses than anywhere else in the world. Below are just three examples of the companies who helped make this happen: Rochford`s No programme on the Lea Valley nursery industry would be complete without the inclusion of the Rochford family. Michael Rochford, the father of Thomas, Joseph and Edward, left Ireland in 1840 and developed his skills... 

Clay flower pots

Many other trades grew up in association with the nursery industry. Clay flower pots were made from clay dug up on the spot by Tuck’s at Woodgreen Lane, Waltham Abbey, and by Samuel South at Tottenham. Some of South’s men could produce 1,400 pots a day.  Read More →

Land Girls

A shortage in strong, male workers was one of the many problems faced by the nurseries following the outbreak of war. A number of companies solved this issue by hiring Land Girls, those trusted female recruits from the Women`s Land Army who were willing to step in and do the jobs usually reserved for men. These determined women helped to ensure that life on “The Home Front” was as normal as possible,... 

Appeal to contributors

The producers of the Lea Valley Nursery programme are eager to hear from anyone who has cine film or photographs that might be of interest. Alongside interviews with a number of nurseries and Thomas Rochford himself, we will also be including the memories of former nursery workers. If you are happy to speak on camera and have a story to tell we would be delighted to hear from you. Please contact John...