Guernsey enterprises, 1830

Chapter XVII of Jacob's Annals, 1830, pp. 465 ff.

See also Trade and exports for 1818-20; Trade statistics 1827; W T Money's 1798 trip to Guernsey, in Transactions of the Société Guernesiaise, 1931, p. 249, ed. Edith Carey; Recent establishment of manufactures, 1828


Guernsey was formerly famous for worsted knit stockings, as well as under garments called Guernsey frocks, but this handicraft trade is almost, if not entirely, lost. At the present period there is scarcely any weaving carried on except at the hospitals; here indeed may be observed—Labour bending patient o'er the loom.

The chief articles of manufacture are those of tobacco and snuff, which formerly were of greater consequence than at this time; the making of soap1 and candles, and the Roman cement from the Isle of Sheppey stones, or from those brought from the coast of Essex. This establishment commenced in 1819, and is conducted by Messrs. Le Lièvre, who erected a windmill near Fort George for grinding the cement, which has been found most excellent. [Since sold to Frederick Mansell, Esq.] There has also been a new manufactory of cement established by Messrs. Girard and Sarre, of Mont Saint, in the parish of St. Saviour's, as appears by advertisements in the Guernsey Gazette of 22nd March, 1828.

Within these few years there have been likewise two or three new corn wind-mills erected under Orders in Council; the manufacture of flour seems to be a thriving concern, for not only new mills have been built, but old ones have been taken down, and rebuilt or enlarged.

There are several new brick and tile kilns in the neighbourhood of the town; this appears also to be a profitable business, if we can judge from the late increase of kilns; indeed some of them are placed too near the outskirts of the town, and are not very agreeable to those who are so unfortunate as to be their neighbours; but this in future may be avoided, there being now an Order of the Royal Court, bearing date 28th of February, 1824, forbidding the erection of kilns, if objected to by those who may suffer from their establishment. The surplus produce of bricks is exported to Plymouth, Portsmouth, Newfoundland, etc.

It has been before remarked, that the island produces no lime-stone, and that this stone is imported from Plymouth, Lime, etc. This is burnt here, in the same kilns, under the bricks; as there are not more than one or two lime-kilns now in use expressly appropriated to that purpose, and these are not always so employed.

The late Mr. Jefferys, when he built his new house and cornmill, erected a small temporary lime-kiln for the purpose of calcining oyster shells, but whether any other person has taken the hint, I cannot say. In making bricks in this island, they have the method of grinding the clay in a mill drawn by one horse, which completely prepares it for the brick moulds, in a more expeditious and much superior manner to the common mode of the spade; the same sort of instrument, only on a small scale, is used at the Town Hospital for mixing and preparing their dough for bread, the drawing of which may be seen under that article. Even in making mortar this mill is used, by which it is more effectually mixed, and better tempered for use.

In 1827, Mr. J. P. Bedford Pim established a paper manufactory, for brown and whitish-brown paper, at Petit Bo. This manufactory has since been purchased by Messrs. Collas, who are making arrangements to extend the manufacture to every sort of paper, writing-paper excepted. There are also large manufactories for ropes, cordage, twines for the shipping, and manufacturers of chocolate and cocoa, of Quinine bark, of Glauber and Epsom salts, for the London and Bristol market, as well as muriatic acid. Formerly there were stills in Guernsey for distilling of spirits from corn; but these had ceased for some time, when in 1827 a new distillery was opened near le Chateau des Marais, for the purpose of extracting spirits from potatoes, etc.2 They have also a manufactory for fine liqueurs, in imitation of the West India cordials; and a manufacture of vinegar, which has been exported to Ireland; cider is made in large quantities for exportation, as well as home consumption, but no perry is made. Besides the above mentioned there are several breweries, from whence ale and porter are exported; and there are also ship-builders, house-builders, tanners, grocers, booksellers, bookbinders, printers, picture-frame makers, gilders, hatters, shoemakers, dyers, woolcombers, cabinet-makers and turners; and in short every variety of trade and shop may be seen in Guernsey, as in large towns in England; but as there are no stamps, and no duties upon any of the articles made or manufactured in the island, there is no necessity for stamp distributors or excisemen.

Guernsey is not greatly behind the rest of the world in the fine arts; for we possess an elegant landscape painter in oils, Mr. J. Young, who is also a portrait painter; besides two native artists, Mr. Le Page in portrait and miniature painting, and Mr. de Garis in miniature painting: as well as Mr. Taudevin, from whom two vignettes may be found in this work. The island is also occasionally visited by English and foreign artists.

NB: Three English and three French newspapers were published weekly in 1827, but one English has since ceased.


1 On Wednesday 21st April [1813] Messrs Priaulx will expose to public sale the Tenement known by the name of Dicker's Soap Manufactory, situated at the Amballes; there are buildings on both sides of the road, and good garden ground, with plenty of water on the premises. The coppers &c will be included in the sale, as also sundry utensils if the purchasers require it. [Le Miroir Politique 10th April 1813.]

2 Later chicory was manufactured in the Bouet near Ivy Castle. Le Publiciste, 26th December, 1812: 'Mr McCarty, intending in future to reside at Glatney, offers his Cottage for Sale, situated at Petit-Marché; for information apply at his Distillery, at Mrs Neal's, Glatney'; and 'John McCarty gives notice, that he has for sale, at his old Distillery, at Mrs Neal's, Glatney, the folowing Articles, viz: Brandy; Rum; Gin; Neutral Spirits; Noyau; Ratafiats, &c &c.'; Messrs Mansell and Price also kept a distillery at Glatney [same source.]


On same subject: Girard, P J, 'Guernsey Life and some Insular Enterprises of the late 19th century,' in Rep. & Trans. Soc. Guernesiaise, XIX (1971) pp. 88 ff. With maps of changes in land use. This discusses in some detail, with documents, his Girard family of the Tertre in the Castel, the De Garis of the Vinaires (boat- and cart-builder), St Pierre du Bois, Torode of Les Vallettes, St Saviour, Le Pontac & Le Carrefour adjoining, La Rocque Ireuse, La Route de la Hougette au Tillier, Fief Le Comte, George Le Couteur of Rocquaine and his fleet, potato farming and varieties, cider production, vegetable crops, broccoli, clover, fruit, cattle for export, tithes (disme), greenhouses, vines, flowers for export &c.