Grow and show in competition large gooseberries At a meeting held at The Red Lion in 1896 it was decided to form a Gooseberry Show in Goostrey. The first show took place on the last Saturday in July 1897 and this date has been kept ever since. Previous to this a show had been held at Jodrell Hall (now Terra Nova School) and so the new show was to be called The Hearts of Oak Show, a name that has since been dropped.
The entrance fee to members was 5/-d (five shillings) and members had to be householders in Goostrey and its surrounding parishes including Blackden, Barnshaw and Allostock. A stringent set of rules were drawn up and apart from a few minor alterations still apply to this day. The first chairman was the Vicar of Goostrey, Rev. Armistead.
All berries are judged by weight, the heaviest berry winning every time. Berries are weighed against each other on a set of balance scales and the weight recorded in Troy weight, 20 pennyweights being 1 ounce Troy and 18 pennyweights 5,1/2 grains being equivalent to a shop ounce. Every member who showed a gooseberry in the Premier Class would be awarded a prize. These ranged from copper kettles to jam pans, from crockery to cutlery, all household items designed to calm down the members’ wives whilst husbands were making merry in the Public House. Berries were picked on the Friday previous to the show. Two witnesses had to be in attendance to assure honesty. The biggest of the berries were then placed in a suitable container lined with cotton wool. The lid was then closed, tied with string and then sealed with wax and stamped by a witness, probably with a coin or brass button. This seal had to be intact on show day or the members’ berries were disqualified.
At one time there was in excess of 200 shows held in the country, mainly in the counties of Staffordshire, Cheshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire and Yorkshire. Of these, 10 remain in Cheshire, 9 of which form the Mid-Cheshire Gooseberry Show Association and 1 remains in Yorkshire in the village of Egton Bridge, a few miles outside Whitby. Egton Bridge celebrates 200 years of continuous showing in the year 2000 which leaves Goostrey some way to go to catch up.