Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Sam Gammon Watercress Beds

A Health food extrordinaire

Sam Gammon was a well-known man in the village, although he did not reside or make his living here. Everyone in this part of the Thames Valley knew of and had tasted the watercress from the famous beds on the Hedsor Road.

Today there is a Garden Centre where the watercress beds use to be, but through the magic of the computer one can turn back the clock and give the young an idea of what the beds looked like 70 years ago.

Sam was a rotund figure of a man and yet he was a very hard working gentleman, who was use to working in his beds on cold and frosty mornings cutting his watercress crop by hand, bunching and packing in osier wicker crates with lids ready for shipment. First he would load his pony and four-wheeled cart with about 100 crates and drive over the toll bridge to Maidenhead Railway Station to catch a fast train to Paddington. There the crates would transported to Covent Garden for sale. Of course he would pick the empty return crates at the station to take back home.

His season would start sometime in December and would carry through until Spring when he would start to refurbish his beds. Only a flood would spoil his operation for the length of time that it lasted. Locals from both sides of the river take weekend walks to see Sam and to buy a three-penny or six-penny bunch of watercress for a Sunday afternoon tea. Today watercress that you find in your Supermarket most likely comes from the famous watercress beds of Hampshire near Alton.

There were also watercress beds towards Well End on the banks of the Bourne, but even those have now been built over. Just Sam’s old beds as seen above.

No comments: