The Decline of Market Gardening
By the middle of the 19th century, the steady growth of London was gradually driving the Barking market-gardeners once more further afield. Not only was there not the land space for the gardens and farms, the air quality was so affected by the new factories and industries that vegetables could not be produced successfully for market any longer. Barking became largely built over and factories caused air pollution that affected the quality of farmers’ produce.
“the growth of the gas-works, chemical works, and factories had so vitiated the atmosphere of the whole district as to prevent the satisfactory growth of vegetables even on such land as still remained available. The members of the Brassica family, which includes cabbages, are generally more susceptible to such atmospheric surroundings.”
The extension of railways and the use of traction-engines had enabled London markets to be supplied from a much greater distance afield than Barking so suppliers moved further afield to areas of Essex, Kent and beyond.
The smells of manure, cabbages and potatoes were overtaken by the smells of industry’s gases, smoke and noxious emissions in the air.