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April - Glass Cucumber Straightener (Victorian)

April - Glass Cucumber Straightener (Victorian)

Glass Cucumber Straightener Designed by George Stephenson (Victorian)

George Stephenson spent his retirement years at Tapton House, Chesterfield, living the life of a country gentleman.

He became a keen fruit grower, building greenhouses for melons and pineapples and took great pride in his produce. He enjoyed a friendly rivalry with Joseph Paxton, the head gardener at Chatsworth.

Stephenson took a particular interest in growing cucumbers but often found himself becoming frustrated with the curved shape of his cucumbers. As a result, in the late 1840’s he contacted his Newcastle steam engine factory and ordered blown glass cylinders with a large opening on one end and a smaller opening on the other which were delivered to him at Tapton House.

These cylinders were placed over cucumbers during the early stages of growth so that they would conform to its shape as they increased in size. This was very successful and it is reported that one day he proudly exhibited his produce to visitors, exclaiming, ‘I think I have bothered them noo’.

Items such as this highlight the Victorian’s heavy obsession with appearance and their desire for all things to be uniform but modern versions of these devices are still used today and supermarkets will reject any cucumber with even the slightest curve. 

Last updated on 05 July 2023