Beamish Museum receives fruit and vegetables bottled by greengrocer 103 years ago

By Culture24 Reporter | 11 July 2013

In 1910, in the shop in Darlington he ran until he retired at 78, Fred Reeks bottled jars of the fruit and vegetables which would win awards at the town's old Horse and Dog show and, ten years later, at the Royal Show.

A photo of two containers holding peas and carrots
More than a century on, his family have donated 15 of them, including containers of carrots, peas and asparagus in water and cherries preserved in a sugary mix, to the Beamish Museum.

“To think those peas are more than 100 years old and still have their colour,” says Hilary Hopkins, Reeks’ granddaughter.

“We are thrilled that people are going to be able to see what we think are beautiful examples.”

Reeks died in 1967, two years after his career as a greengrocer ended.

“It will be interesting to see if it’s still safe to eat,” pondered one fan on the museum’s Facebook page.

“I had an aunt who used to can her plums and never bought a tin of veg in her entire days.”

The Beamish is known to host vegetable shows in its on-site Pit Village. Its annual Harvest Festival and Festival of Agriculture are also popular fixtures.

More pictures:

A close-up photo of an ancient glass jar containing green peas
A close up photo of a glass jar containing carrots
A close-up photo of a glass jar containing preserved vegetables
A photo of a letter between two fruit retailers from 1966
A black and white photo of the front of a 1950s fruit shop
A photo of a certificate from a window dressing competition
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