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Fond memories of Harpur Hill’s mushroom farm

Pat Phoenix, aka Coronation Street's Elsie Tanner, judged the 'Miss Morny' contest at Wrington Vale in 1965. She is pictured with winner Jean Kelly. The party celebrated the record 250,000 mushrooms picked at the Harpur Hill site the previous month.

Pat Phoenix, aka Coronation Street's Elsie Tanner, judged the 'Miss Morny' contest at Wrington Vale in 1965. She is pictured with winner Jean Kelly. The party celebrated the record 250,000 mushrooms picked at the Harpur Hill site the previous month.

Our Looking Back feature on Harpur Hill’s world-famous underground mushroom farm brought memories flooding back for Advertiser readers.

Last month we ran a feature on the opening of the Wrington Vale farm 50 years ago, which occupied 11 tunnels hidden beneath a hillside and were formerly used by the Air Ministry to store explosive munitions and food rations during World War Two.

In response to the article, K & M Wood emailed to say: “Before moving into Hayfield in 1979 we lived in Killamarsh, north east Derbyshire.

“A regular sight in our village was of many local ladies climbing aboard coaches and heading off into the wilds of Peak District to go to work in the mushroom factory near Buxton a matter of 32 miles away.

“Later in the day we would observe the Killamarsh girls return wearily home after a hard day’s work.

“As bystanders we could never fathom out what the mushroom factory was until our move into the area.”

Mrs Butcher, meanwhile, submitted the above photograph of her mother Jean Kelly, who was named Wrington Vale’s ‘Miss Morny’ in the 1965 contest and received her prize from none other than Pat Phoenix, aka Coronation Street’s Elsie Tanner.

The presentation followed an announcement that the mushroom farm had collected a record 250,000 at the Harpur Hill site the previous month.

And Mavis O’Connor, who worked at Wrington Vale between 1968 and 1976, described the eight years as “the happiest days of her life”.

 

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