Trading Stories, Working Lives

Trading Stories, Working Lives: Jesse Barker, hand-frame knitter and celery grower of Loughborough

Graham Barker unearths some newspaper snippets on his ancestor Jesse Barker –  hand-frame knitter and celery grower of Loughborough – in his latest Trading Stories, Working Lives article

Inside a marquee tucked behind the Peacock Inn, Jesse Barker is celebrating winning first prize in the Loughborough Celery Show. It’s a hard-won victory; his seventh attempt at the top prize. In earlier years he’d won a succession of all-comers’ prizes: half a dozen knives and forks, a tin coffee pot, a garden fork, a pepper pot. But now, on a Saturday afternoon in September 1869, he’s finally able to hold aloft the winner’s trophy – a copper kettle – to respectful applause from his fellow gardeners and cheers from his grandchildren.

As the Leicester Daily Mail describes, “There were twenty-one entries, and the exhibition was considered superior to any of the previous ones. The members and friends finished the day by taking supper together, and… were much enlivened by the musical strains of a harp and concertina, with some excellent singing by Mr Biddles.” Jesse was a touch tipsy when he left the Peacock that night, heading around the corner to his home on King Street.

Download the full story here: Jesse Barker, hand-frame knitter and celery grower of Loughborough

You might also like to take a look at the other articles in our Trading Stories, Working Lives series:

Edward Collis, a Victorian cabinet maker, upholsterer and furniture broker

The trial of John Collis, engineer’s patternmaker

George and Anne Waldram, yeoman farmers of Barrow upon Soar

James Powell, an angola spinner of Loughborough

Mary Jane and Clara Bramley, Victorian school mistresses and governesses

Len Collis, a professional musician

John George Collis, a publican in the news

John Collins, a Victorian woolcomber and taxidermist

Naomi Cave, a purse-maker, pub landlady and devoted mother

The Barker brothers in WWI

The Caves of Leicester – Tories or Whigs?

William and Samuel Whittle, yeoman farmers and rabbit warreners of Charnwood

Nathaniel Orringe, miller and baker of Shepshed

Tom Crew, football referee and broadcaster

Samuel Taylor, beadle of Loughborough

Thomas Norman, elastic web weaver

John W Barker & Son, painters and decorators

Mary Ann Norman, Victorian laundress of Paradise Place

John Collins, Victorian fishmonger and game dealer

John and George Firn, monumental masons

Polkey boatmen of Loughborough

The Harrisons: gardeners, nurserymen and seeds merchants

George Robinson, Victorian letter carrier