Potato Gang in the Fens

Potato Gang in the Fens Robert Walker Macbeth, R.A. (1848-1910) Source: “The Great Fen” in the 1855 English Illustrated Magazine. Hathi Trust online version of a copy in the The Pennsylvania State University).

Commentary by Samuel H. Summers

A suitable foundation cannot be found in the peat, and farmsteads can be built only on some firmer spots, hence the farm lands are often at a considerable distance from the homesteads; and from this cause may have arisen the custom of “ganging.” It has been the general practice for the “ gangs ” of women and children to meet at the farmyard in early morning to be drafted off under the direction of the “gangers.” The law has put this system of ganging under certain restrictions in recent times, and the general enforcement of school attendance has checked it considerably. It is not our purpose to describe the daily work of the gangs, but one special work at certain seasons is to pull up the twitch (or couch-grass, Triiicum repens, which grows abundantly in the Fens), and to collect it in heaps for burning. [811] You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the Hathi Trust and the The Pennsylvania State University and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. — George P. Landow.


Miller, Samuel H. “The Great Fen.” English Illustrated Magazine. 2 (September 1885): 805-17. Hathi Trust online version of a copy in the Getty Institute. Web. 1 February 2021.

Last modified 1 February 2021