The coming of the railway opened up new markets for Kentish fruit.
We found that between 1881 and 1935, the area given over to orchards in Marden grew six-fold. It is impossible to say for sure that this was a direct result of the railway, but its ability to open up markets in the rest of the country must have had an impact.
We have already seen evidence to a House of Commons committee from Joseph Ramsden that the area of Kent served by the railway could make a great contribution to the supply of fruit in London. This evidence is supported by the evidence of William Knox Child, a local farmer who states that he was forced to sell his highest quality apples, ‘Ripston Pippins’, at a shilling a bushel. He feels that he would have got a much better price for them had he been able to sell them in better markets.
William Knox Child's evidence on the lack of markets in Kent
The section from a Southern Railway poster shown above reveals that London was not the only potential market for fruit. It advertises a special train for fruit freight which travelled through to the Midlands, Wales and the North.
Southern Railway poster
During the twentieth century rail transport for fruit began to lose out to road haulage, but our group found references to frequent use of the railway to transport fruit through the 1930s. Our group found an account book from the early twentieth century which shows frequent entries for railway carriage throughout the 1930s:
1930s account books of Stonebridge Farm