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Thursday 27 August 2015 09:54 AM BST
Inside Wimbledon: our fascination with food
Each year, news reports about colossal amounts of strawberry consumption hit the headlines during The Championships. READ MORE

Each year, news reports about colossal amounts of strawberry consumption hit the headlines during The Championships. A look at the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum’s postcard collection shows that the public fascination with Wimbledon and food goes back to the early days…

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This explains the popularity of picture postcards from The Championships, particularly in the first quarter of the 20th century when the use of postcards exploded. They became a standard method for transmitting short messages which could be delivered cheaply and reliably and they were also purchased as souvenirs, with the time period seeing the first golden era of postcard collecting.

A look at the Wimbledon Museum’s postcard collection from this time period shows that cards with images of afternoon tea and strawberries and cream were a particular crowd-pleaser. One such postcard from circa 1910 contains a photograph of tennis stars Ethel Larcombe, Dorothea Lambert Chambers, Gladys Lamplough and Agatha Morton enjoying a spot of tea at Worple Road, where The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club grounds were located until 1921.

Another postcard, produced in 1906, offers a sweeping shot of the busy Tea Lawn at Worple Road, highlighting the importance of food to Wimbledon’s heritage.

The fact that the refreshment facilities were substantially upgraded seven times in the 44 years that The Championships were held at Worple Road shows just how integral food has always been to the Wimbledon experience. What’s more, the 27 food outlets available during The Championships today are a testament to the fact that this has not changed although the amount of food consumed has rocketed due to the event’s ever-growing popularity.  

On average, 12 000 kilos of poached and smoked salmon, 32 000 portions of fish and chips, 190 000 cups of tea and coffee, 230 000 glasses of Pimm’s and a whopping 28 000 kilos of strawberries, amongst other food products, are consumed each year!

But not to worry; whilst Wimbledon is now the largest single annual sporting catering operation carried out in Europe, visitors can rest assured that the quality of the strawberries has not changed since the Worple Road days. Freshly picked Kent Grade1 strawberries arrive at the Grounds at 5.30am for close inspection so that spectators can fully enjoy the delicious treat that has long been a symbol of The Championships at Wimbledon.

What are your favourite food moments at Wimbledon? Let us know@Wimbledon