17th Century

  • In the 17th century, wool and knitting dominated the landscape.
  • Thousands were involved.
  • The Jersey landscape evolved wasting no land whatsoever, right to the cliff edge.
  • A cod fishing industry was well established.
  • Wind and water mills were in operation grinding wheat and other cereals.
  • They knew how to make the most of the land and the sea.

18th Century

  • At the beginning of the 18th century 13,500 vergees, one-quarter of the land was under orchards.
  • Raised banks with extensive tree planting created shelter for the orchards and crops.
  • Cider & knitwear exports thrived. Wool is also imported to keep up with the demand for knitted garments.
  • Cod fishing industry peaks.
  • 500 cargo ships registered in Jersey.
  • Jersey’s well-maintained roads, good harbours and shipping fleet can get cargos to market quickly and efficiently.
  • Jersey Cattle protected and selective breeding starts.
  • Jerseys honorary system fosters cooperation

19th Century

  • In 1807 the first exports of “early potatoes” were lifted in August/ September totalling 600 tonnes.
  • General Don builds a network of main roads.
  • By 1811 exports reach 1200 tonnes.
  • Dawn of the industrial revolution.
  • Shipbuilding declines with the advent of steamships.
  • Royal Jersey Agricultural & Horticultural Society formed in 1834 and does much to promote best practice in agriculture.
  • Cider exports decline.
  • The tonnages exported continued to increase as more orchards were removed and Jersey’s farmers enjoyed a period of continued prosperity.
  • 1843 “Potato Blight” hits America, followed by Belgium and then many others, with Ireland and Jersey in 1845.
  • Between 1840 and 1850 there were famines in many parts of the world and they were known as the “Hungry Forties”.
  • When it was noticed that potatoes growing downwind of a Copper smelting factory were unaffected it leads to the use of the “Bordeaux Mixture” to try and control the blight.
  • By 1858 and even with the use of the Bordeaux mixture the Jersey farmers were in despair and facing ruin, when John Le Cauday, a well to do farmer from St. Ouen realized that something groundbreaking had to happen …and fast!
  • He revisited an idea that Jersey, with its warm climate and mild winters, where, as he had seen on his own farm, the conditions and soil in the South facing Cotils was warmer, would be the ideal place for growing very early potato crops. These could reach the London market well before the English crops were ready, and would, therefore, fetch the very highest prices.
  • He travels extensively purchasing different seed varieties and acting on his belief in the benefits of using a fertilizer called Guano he secures supplies to bring about this early production.
  • His fellow farmers once despondent were now enthusiastic.
  • On the 16th of April 1859, the very first basketful of “earlies” was sent to London.
Jerseys North Quay 1883-1886. – Société Jersiaise Photographic Archive, Jersey
  • By 1868 exports achieve 7890 tons.

(Jerseys North Quay is very narrow in 1868.)

Société Jersiaise Photographic Archive, Jersey
  • In 1870 grateful farmers presented John Le Cauday with an illuminated address, and an inscribed gold watch & chain and 50 gold sovereigns.

Then one day…

  • At Le Cauday & Co merchants store and potato packing warehouse farmer Hugh de la Haye sees two large potatoes displayed on the counter, noticing one had sixteen eyes he took it home subsequently cut it into various segments and planted them.
  • The resultant crop was a mix of kidney-shaped and round of which he was impressed by the flavour of the kidney potatoes.
  • The potatoes were displayed in the window of the local newspaper and given the name The Jersey Royal Flukes as was the custom during the reign of Queen Victoria to name things in her honour.
  • Hugh de la Haye went on to increase stocks of the new seed.
  • In 1890 friends and fellow farmers presented him with a testimonial for his introduction of the Jersey Royal Fluke.
  • In 1891 66,840 tons of potatoes were exported
Société Jersiaise Photographic Archive, Jersey

The harbour in the potato season of 1895 showing a newly widened “New” North Quay.

  • Several thousand farmers at the turn of the century.
  • Much innovation in agriculture at that time.
  • Investment in the countryside infrastructure including elaborate granite retaining walls built to improve access to the very valuable cotils and earliest fields.
  • Jersey’s climate was also ideal for growing tomatoes and at the end of the 1800’s this crop was further enhancing the income of the Jersey farmer.
Société Jersiaise Photographic Archive, Jersey
  • Vraicing the land, particularly the lighter soils, is important for maintaining yields.
  • At the end of the 19th century, the Jersey farmers were widely regarded as probably the most productive farmers per acre in the world.

20th Century

  • Jerseys “New North Quay” now has new warehouses to service the ships.
Société Jersiaise Photographic Archive, Jersey
  • More reclamation has taken place to accommodate the freight and the need for extra parking, as this picture of Royals awaiting export before the outbreak of World War 2 shows.
Picture courtesy of The Jersey Evening Post
  • After WW2 food production was a major priority.
  • The use of tractors increases as manufacturing recovers.
Doug Richardson Senior in 1950
  • With the tractors came the development of winches and now even the Cotils could be ploughed over as opposed to having to dig them over with a spade.
  • The horses reduced in number steadily as technology advanced upon the land.
  • In the 1960’s and 1970’s the Royal crop was followed by a crop of Cauliflowers and all were sold on the wholesale market.
  • By the end of 1970’s the supermarkets were on the increase and paying premium prices.
  • In the 1980’s came a big change in the growing of the Jersey Royal… Polythene Mulch
  • In 1997 the Jersey Royal was granted a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) meaning it can only be grown on Jersey. This accolade was a fitting tribute to those early pioneers and everyone involved in Jerseys potato industry and a great way to see out the 20th century.

21st Century

In 2001 Genuine Jersey was founded. A group of local producers, being inspired by the “Choose Genuine Jersey Produce” message printed on Jersey’s produce packaging, saw value in offering shoppers distinct and unique local goods recognized as being made in Jersey through a Genuine Jersey brand. Thus, the distinctive “Genuine Jersey” logo was created and can be found on members produce as a symbol and guarantee of local provenance.

The marque, along with all of Jersey’s agricultural products and other local products, is proudly displayed with Jersey Royals.

Today’s Production

Today’s production methods employ many traditional production methods combined with these are some of the most up-to-date technologies from around the world. Richardson’s are delighted to be at the forefront in developing new systems and using new technologies to continually improve.

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