Cherry Memories

Folk drawing

By Pat Townsend
Reprinted here by the kind permission of Pat Townsend, daughter of Reg Wilks

Once we grew cherries at Flackwell
At Flackwell Heath on the Hill
We grew cherries at Flackwell
And our baskets we could fill
With Early Rivers, Bigereaux, Napoleons, large and red.
While juicy whitehearts, blackhearts too
Hung waiting overhead.
Away from the smoky valleys
And the grime and the dust of the towns
Our trees were like brides in the Springtime
Wearing their white blossom gowns.
Yes, above the mills and factories
Our trees grew so straight and tall
That we had to hire long ladders
So that we could pick them all.
And at the end of the season
Was the famous Cherry Fayre
And people came from miles around
To sell, or to buy, or to stare.
And on those gaily decked stalls
To gladden hungry eyes
Were rows and rows of the famous
Flackwell cherry pies.
We pick no more cherries at Flackwell
The trees and the ladders are gone.
Houses fill the fields and woods
The orchards are built upon.
Our roads have cherry names though
Just to keep tradition alive.
There's The Orchard, Cherry Wood Gardens,
Cherry Close and Cherry Rise.
And those houses ring with the laughter
Of happy children at play.
And they're bright and healthy with cherry-red cheeks
And modern clothes so gay.
Far away from the smoky valleys
Our children grow straight and tall.
They play beneath our last few trees
With skipping rope, toy or ball.
You should see our lads play football
In their shirts of cherry-red.
And the old call "Up the Cherrypickers"
Is not entirely dead.
Yes, above the mill and the factories
Our children grow straight and strong.
You should hear them singing sweet and clear
An old traditional song.
So we still have a harvest at Flackwell
At Flackwell Heath on the Hill.
Our harvest's not cherries but children
A better harvest still.

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