.

Mushroom Cultivation Underground

.

Mushrooms growing in Poulton Quarry

.

The tunnels that had been cut out of the hillsides in Bradford and Westwood by underground stone quarrying provided ideal conditions for growing mushrooms on a commercial scale. Insulated from the weather, they give stable levels of temperature and humidity all year round and, unlike most plants, fungi do not need light for their growth.

The techniques were imported from France, where they had been pioneered in old underground stone quarries in Paris; mushrooms there are still known as champignons de Paris. The company of Agaric Ltd started up in Bradford just before the First World War with help from French workers. From 1928 the company used part of the quarries at Westwood, but had given up by the start of World War 2.

As Blue Prince and as Darlington Mushrooms, cultivation continued for the Heinz company until production was moved away from Bradford in the 1990s.

Underground farming continued on a reduced scale afterwards, but all has gone now and the only mushrooms on sale here are from Ireland.