past & present

The Clyde Valley orchards are an important part of our local landscape. They have seen the development of new varieties of fruit, been the source of new foods, drinks, songs and stories, and provided an income for many small and large local businesses.

They have changed dramatically from their early monastic beginnings to become Scotland’s leading commercial fruit producing area in the 19th century. Since then, the markets for local fruit have slowly declined and today the orchards are in danger of being lost from our countryside. As orchards become a less common component of the landscape and many stand neglected or under-utilised, more questions are being asked about what we are losing. These orchards provide an important bank of fruit and knowledge at a time when local produce and variety is starting to be valued in new contexts.

Painting by Mary Hunter. Crossford from the orchards*

* In – Maxwell, D. The Clyde (1907). Reproduced with kind permission of Lanark Library, South Lanarkshire Council Library Service.

The flourish

During May of 2022 the Clyde Valley Co-operative staged a number of events at the Tolbooth in Lanark. This consisted of exhibitions inspired by orchards by local artists, Ronnie Cruwys, Sandra Gunn, and photography by Dawn Martin. There was also a visual presentation outlining the past and present of orchards and related horticulture in the Clyde Valley and the current vision and aims of the CVOC to restore, maintain and create orchards locally with all their attendant benefits.

During the exhibition period a number of talks took place from Lanarkshire Beekeepers Association, Biggar Gin (who used our fruit in their production), Lanarkshire Larder and our own member Ann Armstrong who told the fascinating story of fruit growing in the Clyde Valley.