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England Potatoes - Family Business

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England Potatoes Ltd.

This is a project to add all members of The England Family who worked as potato merchants for the company England Potatoes Ltd, which was founded by family patriarch John Humphrey England Jr. in 1842.

History

England Potatoes ltd. was founded by John Humphrey England in the 1842 with the express intention of supplying potatoes the business grew as rapidly as the population expanded fueled by the coal and shipping industries. In the 19th century all potatoes were imported and at that time the company shipped their stock in from Northern Ireland.

The business continued to grow and more family members join the enterprise whilst one set up another firm which also supplied potatoes grown in Holland, Poland and in particular Brittany.

Having the first new potatoes from Brittany became so prestigious that in 1909 the Company had its own steam ship, the SS Cardiff City, built to compete in the race to supply its eager customers. The next step in speeding up delivery came in 1913 when the company purchased its first motor lorry and began to phase out horses as consequence.

The company continued to thrive despite the First World War. After the end of hostilities, and prompted by a disease outbreak in Northern France, it began to encourage the growing of early potatoes on the Southern Irish coast. A member of the family, who enjoyed holidaying on the Pembrokeshire coast, then realised that parts of the county had sufficiently benign climate to grow new potatoes. In 1935 Jack England (grandson of founder John Humphrey England), armed with this idea and having got the appropriate parties involved, produced a successful alliance known as the Pembrokeshire Marketing Scheme. The Scheme was highly successful and more and more farmers joined in growing the Pembrokeshire new potato. Some of the varieties such as Great Scott, Golden Wonder and Edzell Blue became very popular whilst others including What's What did not achieve the same acclaim although this may have something to do with the name! After World War Two the business expanded into fruit and acquired a fruit farm in Kent. This meant that for the first time fresh fruit from Kent was available in Cardiff. By the early 1960's Edward England was using its own lorries to transport the produce overnight using the somewhat basic road network to ensure maximum freshness. Other post war developments included the purchase of a potato farm in Herefordshire and even the planting, in the 1980's of a 6 acre vineyard near Cowbridge following in the steps of the Romans who came to Wales. Over time another business evolved within the main potato umbrella supplying seed potatoes, other seed and gardening sundries to allotment associations, garden centres and farmers to take advantage of the seasonal nature of both businesses. In 2003, the family decided to part from their continuous 150 year ownership and sold the business to another family with a comparable ethos. Mason Potatoes, who themselves have enjoyed over 50 years of trading in market gardening and distribution of potatoes to retailers, continues to thrive in the 21st century , remaining as dedicated and innovative as ever.