The Illustrated London News - Nov 2nd 1872
A Birmingham Onion Fair

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This image and text was published in the Illustrated London News on 5th October 1872

Image and transcription kindly supplied by Jeff Butler

Onion Fair

The greatest manufacturing town of the Midland shires has retained a considerable trade in the agricultural produce of the surrounding country. Its Corn Exchange quotations are of some importance; and it has a Smithfield of its own, where live cattle and swine,or their carcasses are shown for sale one or two days in the week; while hay and straw,and other rural commodities,take their turn in the traffic of the place. But the unique feature of this particular aspect of Birmingham,as an agricultural market,is the Michaelmas Onion Fair. It is held on the last Thursday in September,in the wideopen place called the Bull Ring,which's situated in the centre of town,in front of St. Martin's Church. This growth of this savoury vegetable is the object of much attention by many of the neighbouring market-gardeners and farmers, who find the soil and climate well adapted to its cultivation. Nowhere can such large quantities be seen or of finer quality,than in the special Fair at Birmingham,which took place as usual on Thursday week. The onions are piled in stacks,heaped in wooden crates or wicker baskets, spread upon wide stalls,or suspended in perpendicular ropes from cross-poles overhead, in the variety of arrangement for effective display. The air is fully charged with their pungent odour, causing the unaccustomed eye,perhaps, to shed an involuntary tear,while engaged in the inspection of their diverse kinds,though not a sorry sight. The dealers and customers at this Fair are mostly the country folk of Warwickshire, with a few tradesmen of the town and some of the workmen's wives for the onion gives a palatable relish to a poor man's dinner or supper .

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