Some information for this page has been taken from the excellent book “from Sticks
and Stones, Antlers and Bones” by Mervyn Billot, published by Jersey Heritage Trust.
Our Farming Heritage
As well as our sculpture collection we also have a large number of heritage farming
equipment, many of which Nigel remembers using with his Dad !
We were given this donkey cart many years ago, but it was not until, by chance, we
found a magazine article about a firm of wheelwrights called Mike Rowland & Son that
we were able to get it rebuilt - not much of the original remains but it is a splendid
addition to our collection,
The Jersey Royal potato is one of Jersey’s most famous exports. Above, is a horse
drawn potato planting plough - the front wheels are adjustable to determine the row
width. Below left, is a horse drawn scarifier which would have been used to cultivate
between the rows of potatoes, to help them grow and stop weeds growing. When the
haulms were big enough, the next job was banking (earthing up) - below right is a
hand drawn banker and at the bottom is a horse drawn version - banking ensured the
maximum crop of potatoes and ensured none were exposed to be turned green by sunlight.
These implements were made locally in iron works, such as Le Cappelain in St Peter’s
- a business which is still trading today but providing more domestic services -
we had one of their small trailers.
You needed an excellent horse which could walk down the rows without it’s hooves
standing on the potatoes - Nigel remembers pulling a hand drawn banker (acting as
the horse), with his father guiding it behind, and Nigel had to ensure that he didn’t
stand on the potatoes !
The Planet range of implements were probably used all over the world; made in America
the local agent was John Jones of Mulcaster Street, St Helier from the beginning
of the 20th Century.
This is a Planet Junior seed drill - seeds were put in the hopper and it was possible
to adjust the drill according to the size of the seed and the rate of flow of seeds.
The front wheel has a gear wheel which operates the feeder.
The adjustable marker created a line for the next row.
Nigel’s Dad used one of these to sow, among other things, carrot seed until he retired
in the 1990’s, working models are still in use today.
A wheel jack, made anytime since the end of the 19th Century, made from wood and
The hook would be placed under the axle of a horse drawn cart or van and the lever
pushed down and hooked to a chain to hold it in place.The vertical row of holes are
to adjust the height of the hook.
Cart and van wheels had to be removed from time to time to grease the axle, running,
as they did on plain bearings.
We have traditional Jersey willow lobster and crab pots.
The lobster pot (top) is the larger of the two, about 3 feet in diameter, and was
made by the locally famous A P Laurent, the last full-time willow weaver in Jersey.
The smaller crab pot (bottom) was made by AP’s apprentice and has a distinctive base.
It is the reason that there are willows growing in the meadow next to the garden,
an important source of the material which was used to make all sorts of baskets (for
picking potatoes and tomatoes) and other containers, as well as pots for fishing,
which was often a means for farmers (and others) to earn extra income; as well as
being used by local full-time fishermen.
We have a number of items which we keep inside, but are pictured here during one
of their annual cleans.
The ‘non-returnable’ potato barrels were made locally in their thousands, but most
were exported with the potatoes so not many are still around. These came from the
farmer who lived next door to Nigel’s parents.
Pictured below, from left to right:
─ one-cwt (112 pounds) potato barrel (which were used for export until the 1960's
when they became too expensive [and too heavy!], this one may have been repaired
on the farm with suitable green branches, as they normally just have ply hoops);
─ half- hundred weight potato barrel (made from barrel ply locally, in vast numbers,
which were cheaper for the farmers to buy);
─ potato box (used for carrying seed potatoes to the fields for planting, both Judith
and Nigel have spent many weeks, in their younger days, in October and November ‘standing’
potatoes for Nigel’s parents, that is, placing the potatoes upright in these boxes
to allow their shoots to develop and grow upright, a process called ‘chitting’ in
the UK. The potato boxes were then stored in sheds to encourage the shoots to grow
leading to the potatoes growing more quickly).