Vera Lynn
Name: Vera Lynn
Description: Photograph of Vera Lynn visiting a rhubarb farm in Morley during the Second World War
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Contributor: Edna Lonsdale - all rights reserved
Rights: Edna Lonsdale - all rights reserved
Councillor Judith Elliott gave us her memories of the rhubarb trade in Morley and how it has been in her family for generations.
50th anniversary
Name: 50th anniversary
Description: Photograph of a group of ladies at 50th anniversary rhubarb event
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Contributor: G H Marshall
Rights: G H Marshall
Dinner dance cards
Name: Dinner dance cards
Description: Dinner dance cards for Leeds and District Market Gardners' Association, 1972-1974
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Reference:
Contributor: G H Marshall
Rights: G H Marshall

Councillor Elliott's ancestors, the Gray family, owned and ran Blackgates Farm in Tingley for many years. It was only after the tragic death of her father during the 1940s that she and her mother moved to a smaller property, leaving her father's business partner, Morris Stiplady, to carry on the business. Judith's father was a fruit and potato merchant and the business was concerned with transporting rhubarb roots, amongst other produce, across the country from Edinburgh to Covent Garden in London.

Despite leaving Blackgates Farm at the age of 8, Judith continued to visit Haigh Moor Farm every day, which was owned by her uncle. Here, she gained an experience of the work being done to pull and grow rhubarb, which was mainly done by local people.

After leaving school - Councillor Elliott attended Morley Grammar School - she went to work in the offices of the family business (Alan Gray Limited) where it was clear how important the rhubarb trade was. In an age without computer technology, the staff worked hard to find customers to buy rhubarb roots, which would then be split into four pieces for further planting and farming. The business went on to become a big success.

During the war, although it is a time that Judith was too young to remember, every piece of land was used. Given the difficulties with importing and exporting produce, the rhubarb trade in Morley gave an awful lot towards the home front campaigns using the Land Army to work in the fields.

Today, Councillor Elliott suggests that the decline of the Morley rhubarb trade is due to the rise of major supermarket chains and, therefore, the cutting out of the 'middleman' such as her family's business. However, there is no denying that rhubarb stills holds a special place in Morley's heritage given the important that it once held.

You can listen to parts of Councillor Elliott's interview and read the full transcript below.

Audio