Philip Barton

WORLD RECORD: Philip Barton, left, with former Spen Valley Civic Society president Fred Knox and the Spen Fame Trail plaque marking his achievement.
WORLD RECORD: Philip Barton, left, with former Spen Valley Civic Society president Fred Knox and the Spen Fame Trail plaque marking his achievement.

The man who put Cleckheaton into the Guinness Book of Records after he grew the world’s biggest cabbage has died.

Philip Barton, of Hightown, grew the huge 115lb 11oz vegetable at the Mann Dam allotments in Cleckheaton in September 1977.

The whopping specimen earned him an entry into the Guinness Book of Records, as well as a plaque on Spen Valley Civic Society’s Fame Trail.

Mr Barton was born in Barnsley, moving with his family to Hightown when he was just four.

He was a wire drawer at Bridon Wire but was made redundant and then unable to work after an accident.

His main passion was gardening and his family have fond memories of when he grew the giant cabbage.

His former wife, Elaine, said: “He had about 10 cabbages growing, from 33lb up to this huge one. It was 9ft across and was so big it took four men to lift it.

“They had to load it on to a trailer and take it to the Ferrybridge Power Station weighbridge because there were no scales big enough to take it.

”I remember at the time there was a shortage of cabbages for some reason, and they were selling for 75p a pound. But Philip decided to sell his to a nursing home for just £3.”

His daughter, Michelle Robinson, said: “He really looked after them and would feed them with stale beer and natural fertiliser.

“He’d spend hours and hours on his allotment at Mann Dam and later at Clough Lane. As children we’d love to go down there and help him, and we’d love telling people that our dad was in the Guinness Book of Records.

“He also passed his love of gardening down to his grandson, Liam, and even though he’s only nine he’s already grown a 38lb cabbage, and beat his grandad in a marrow-growing competition, winning a fiver off him!”

The family is unsure as to whether his world record still stands. In 1990 a gardener grew a 118lb cabbage, but it was later discovered that it had been helped along with halogen lamps, so was disqualified.

In 2007 Mr Barton’s achievement was recognised in the Spen Fame Trail and a plaque was laid near to where the Mann Dam allotments were located.

Michelle said: “He was very proud to be recognised in the trail, but in an unassuming way. From then on everyone knew him as Cabbage Man, no 35, because that was the number of his plaque.”

His other love was cars.

Son Kristian said: “He had a mini in his front garden for over 20 years, even though he couldn’t drive - it became like his ‘garden gnome’!”

Michelle added: “He’d also just got a Land Rover which he wanted to do up. His one wish for when he came out of hospital was to ride in it, but sadly that wasn’t to be.”

Mr Barton, who lived with his brother, Peter, on Windy Bank Lane for 33 years, died in Kirkwood Hospice on February 23. Thankfully before he died he was reunited with his sister, Maureen, who flew from Tasmania to see him. They had not met for 40 years.

His funeral service was held yesterday at Dewsbury Crematorium and the family requested that a cabbage be placed on top of his coffin.

“He was such a character, we thought it would be a lovely tribute to him,” said Michelle.

Mr Barton, who was 62, also leaves another son Keiron, 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.