National Kelsae Onion Festival

23rd Dec 1999

Continuation of last week's article.

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The National Kelsae Onion Festival was organised by Sinclair McGill Ltd in 1975, they were seed merchants who had the sole rights to the Kelsae onion and this competition was undoubtedly the dream of Robin Hogg. Robin was at the time part of the management team and was responsible for the selection of onions to make sure that the Kelsae remained the one to beat on the show scene.

Another interesting point, and probably the main reason for Robin's interest, is the fact that his father, T Hogg improved a sport from the Kelsae onion during the 1950's and as it was distinctly different to the Kelsae it was called the ‘Border' onion. During the 50s and 60s there was great rivalry and competition between the two types of onion but in the end the Kelsae onion dominated to the extent that the Border onion ceased to be grown. Even though the ‘Border' at that time could achieve a circumference of 22inches (which was unbelievably large) it's downfall undoubtedly was it's rather flat shape.

The man who really moved things forward though was Mel Ednie, even today, five years on, he is still the world record holder for the heaviest onion with a stupendous specimen weighing 15lb 15.5 ounces and measuring over 33 inches in circumference. Interestingly this record was broken at the home of the Kelsae onion at Kelso in Scotland on a Saturday in September. Equally interesting is the fact that Mel had broken the previous World record on the Friday before with an onion weighing 15lbs 9 ounces, so he broke the World Record twice in two days! This record will certainly last for many years to come, since Mel broke it, no one has come within a few pounds to it.

Mel was a keen Chrysanthemum grower in the days before he attempted to grow onions and the strange thing is that a number of the top growers such as Ivor Mace Vin Throup and Mel have all grown Chrysanthemums to the highest standards. During the 1980 - 81 season Mel decided to have ago at growing the large onions and was given some onion plants from Bob Rodger with which he did remarkably well. In those early days there's no doubt that the influence of the two great growers Bob and Bill Rodger helped Mel to get on to the right track. Mel however is very much a thinking gardener himself and over the latter years has certainly worked things out himself.

When I recently spoke to Mel I asked him if he would ever have a go at breaking his own record, his reply was that he might well do so once he retires from his regular employment as a builder. I just hope that I shall be around to see that day.

Below is a list of the winners of all the Kelsae Heaviest Onion competition from the first show in 1975 to the present day where they are now held at the Harrogate Show Ground and run by the North of England Horticultural Society. This years heaviest onion competition was the 25th to be staged and during that period 8 World records were established.

Date

Venue

Name of Winner

Weight

1975

Sinclair McGill Ltd Boston

A. C breed St Boswells Roxburghshire

4lb 15.75 ozs

1976

Barton Grange Garden Centre Garstang Preston

J Wheildon Brimstage Wirral

5lb 10ozs

1977

Mayfield Garden Centre Kelso

R Rodger Crail Fife

5lb 13.5ozs

1978

Dickens Garden Centre Stockton on Tees

B H Charles Oswestry Shropshire

4lb 4.5 ozs

1979

Grosvenor Garden Centre Chester

G White York

5lb 5.5ozs

1980

Mayfield Garden Centre Kelso

R Rodger Crail Fife

6lb 0.5ozs

1981

Harlow Car Gardens Harrogate

R Rodger Crail Fife

6lb 7ozs (*see below)

1982

Northern Club Ashington Northumberland

J McKenzie Maryport Cumbria

6lb 12ozs

1983

Great Autumn Show Exhibition Ctr.Harrogate

J McKenzie Maryport Cumbria

7lb 3.5ozs

1984

Great Autumn Show Exhibition Ctr.Harrogate

S. Shakeshaft Raby Wirral

7lb 7.00ozs * *

1985

Great Autumn Show Exhibition Ctr.Harrogate

W Rodger Crail Fife

6lb 14.5ozs

World Record

1986

Great Autumn Show Exhibition Ctr.Harrogate

Vin Throup Silsden Yorkshire

7lb 4.5ozs

1987

Great Autumn Show Exhibition Ctr.Harrogate

Ivor Mace Ynys Wen Rhondda Valley

8lb 13ozs * *

1988

Great Autumn Show Exhibition Ctr.Harrogate

Keith Foster Richmond North Yorkshire

9lb 2.0ozs * *

1989

Great Autumn Show Exhibition Ctr.Harrogate

Vin Throup Silsden Yorkshire

9lb 11ozs * *

1990

Great Autumn Show Exhibition Ctr.Harrogate

Vin Throup Silsden Yorkshire

10lb 14ozs * *

1991

Great Autumn Show Exhibition Ctr.Harrogate

Peter Glasebrook Halam Newark

10lb 9ozs

1992

Great Autumn Show Exhibition Ctr.Harrogate

Robert Holland Cumnock Ayrshire

11lb 2.0ozs * *

1993

Great Autumn Show Exhibition Ctr.Harrogate

Robert Holland Cumnock Ayrshire

11lb 1.75ozs

1994

Great Autumn Show Exhibition Ctr.Harrogate

Mel Ednie Anstruther Fife

12lb 4.0ozs * *

1995

Great Autumn Show Yorks Show Grd Harrogate

Mel Ednie Anstruther Fife

15lb 15.5ozs**

1996

Great Autumn Show Yorks Show Grd Harrogate

Mel Ednie Anstruther Fife

13lb 3.0ozs

1997

Great Autumn Show Yorks Show Grd Harrogate

Mel Ednie Anstruther Fife

13lb 0.0ozs

1998

Great Autumn Show Yorks Show Grd Harrogate

Donald Kaye Sowood Halifax Yorkshire

13lb 8.8ozs

1999

Great Autumn Show Yorks Show Grd Harrogate

E Walker Barnsley South Yorkshire

11lb 7.62ozs

 

* Later that year at the Northern Club Show Ashington, a World Record was achieved by S Hill of Galashiels with a 7lb 6oz onion after trimming the foliage.

* * New World Record set.


Continuing the story of Kelsae onions and the world of large onions
Other 1999 articles of interest

· Winston and Kestrel Show...
· Growing Blanch Leeks
· Germinating Parsnips
· Keeping Vegetables Fresh for...
· Clearing up the Vegetable Plot...
· Artificial Lighting, Soil...
· Success with Tomatoes
· ABC of Vegetables - Part 1
· ABC of Vegetables - Part 3
· ABC of Vegetables - Part 4
· Growing Celery in Raised Beds
· Short Carrots - Germination,...
· Overcoming Botrytis in Tomatoes
· National Kelsae Onion Festival
· Leeks and Cauliflowers

View All Articles from 1999
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Prize-winning exhibition vegetable seeds give you the advantage whether growing for show or just for the family. You can see our range of top quality selected seeds and horticultural sundries in our online shop