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Abingworth Nurseries

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What: Mushroom Farm & Light Industrial Units
Where: Abingworth, West Sussex
Built: 1945
Architect: Unknown
Abandoned: Before 2013
Listed: No
Visited: 2014, 2015
Last Known Condition: Demolished
Page Updated: October 2015

Moving swiftly and quietly around the back of the shed, I made my way to the open door and stepped inside. The first thing that I noticed was the smell, an overpowering floral aroma underlain by an astringent chemical tang. The second thing was that the floor was covered in what appeared to be dried flower petals; great heaps of them, spilling out of bags and boxes and banked up against the walls. A long corridor ran the length of the building and side-rooms were stuffed with crates of exotic seed pods, ribbon and gold spray paint. Of all things, I'd discovered an abandoned potpourri factory.

Empty growing shed, 2014
Empty growing shed, 2014

Lotus pods, 2014
Lotus seed pods.

Petals, 2014
Petals for potpourri making

Remaining factory buildings in 2014

Remaining factory buildings in 2014

Remaining factory buildings in 2014

Factory building

Boxes of Hibiscus pods

More petals

Growing tunnel 9

Growing tunnel 9

Part of a large stash of family papers dumped in one of the tunnels

Barrel of perfume

Entrance to block 6

Block 6 main corridor

Rusty switchgear

A processing room of some sort

Boiler flushing chart

Heating controls

All that remained of the farmhouse

Demolished, 2015

Left behind by the demolition crew: a bottle of Febreeze and Bob Marley braces

Abingworth Farm was bought by A. G. Linfield & Sons, nurserymen, in 1945. Linfield's, which already had a farm at nearby Chesswood, converted the old dairy farm buildings and built a number of large sheds for growing mushrooms, then considered a luxury product which would command high prices at market. By 1960 the firm was the largest mushroom grower in Europe, using manure from its pig and poultry farms to produce compost, and employing 600 people.

As production techniques improved and shipping capabilities allowed more foreign imports, mushroom prices fell and Linfield's concentrated production on their nearby Chesswood Farm, leaving only a few sheds in production at Abingworth. The rest of the sheds were let out as light industrial units, which is where the potpourri comes in. In its commonest form, potpourri is a perfumed assortment of decorative flowers, bark &c. used to give a pleasant fragrance to a room. The stuff always smelled funny to me and was a magnet for dust, but until quite recently it was big business. The factory was run by Pecksniffs, a local fragrance company: imported seedpods, flowers and bark strips were soaked in perfume, dried, mixed and bagged for distribution to high-end department stores and florists around the UK.

I haven't been able to determine when the production of potpourri stopped but the fragrance company was wound up in 2009. By 2013 the Abingworth site was unoccupied, and six months after these photographs were taken all of the buildings had been demolished. It is understood that after landscaping and decontamination, houses are to be built on the site.


Baggs, A.P., Currie, C.R.J., Elrington, C.R., Keeling, S.M. and Rowland, A.M. (1986) "Thakeham: Economic history" in Hudson, T.P. (Ed.) "A History of the County of Sussex" Vol. 6 Pt. 2. London: Victoria County Histories. URL: http://www.british- history.ac.uk/vch/su ssex/vol6/pt2/pp40- 44 [accessed 26/08/2015].

Linfield, M. (2000) "Photographs � Precious Records of the Past" URL: http://www.lindfield .org/longshot/volume _8/photographs_- _precious_records_of _the_past.html [accessed 26/08/2015].Co.

Linfield, M. (1996) "The LONG Collection of Newspaper and Magazine Cuttings (Part 2)" URL: http://www.lindfield .org/longshot/volume _5/the_long_collecti on_of_newspaper_and_ magazine_cuttings_ (part_2).html [accessed 26/08/2015].Co.


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