Farming  Watercress at Lemsford

Hertford Mercury, 1847 & 1854




Watercress, Lemsford, Lemsford Mills, Tims, Kemp. Chennels, Roberts, ducks


On the TV program Countyfile on the evening of 13 January, 2013 (BBC1) there was an item on the Nature reserve of Lemsford Springs, which mentioned the history of the springs as watercress beds. A quick check showed that there was an excellent web page giving the history of the springs and I wondered whether I could find an earlier reference to the cultivation of watercress there.


This newspaper article, relating to a court case over damage caused by ducks, comes from the Hertford Mercury of 4th November, 1854, which is 8 years earlier than the previous first mention of the Tims family growing watercress in the area.


It should be noted that the 1851 census describes George Tims, of Lemsford Mills as a greengrocer but the extent of his his involvement with watercress, as described in the paper, was quite significant, and had clearly been going on for some time in 1854, and he was not just selling watercress to the inhabitants of Lemsford!


The 1861 census suggests he was born in Boxmoor (another watercress area) about 1813.


So I decided to see if I could find an even earlier references to George Tims and Watercress, having noted that some of the references in the online history  also referred to nearby Stanborough.

I found the following earlier case in the Hertford Mercury of 15 May 1847 which relates to the theft of watercress from George Tims watercress beds at Stanborough. The fact that George claims that watercress had been stolen to a value of between 20s and 30s in one week clearly indicates that comparatively large scale watercress farming had been taking place in the area for some time.

These press reports suggest that George Tims may have been a wholesale greengrocer. This seems quite possible when most people living around Lemsford would have grown their own vegetables, while there would have been a major demand for fresh vegetables of all kinds in London.

Watercress, Lemsford, Stanborough, Hatfield, St AlLbans, Hertfordshire, George Tims, Daniel Pattiot George Wright, PC Cocksedge, House of Correction


If you can add to the information given above tell me.

Jamuary 2013   Page created