One of the most striking sights on the island is the sheer volume of empty and often collapsing and overgrown glasshouses . Next door to our billet is a huge one.
Just next door
There are nine within a half-mile radius of our place. Often they are flanked by a chimney stack and a packing shed.
The Packing Shed
These glass mausoleums are what is left of an industry that started in1860. At that time the English discovered that tomatoes (a native of South America) were edible.
This island’s mild maritime climate (southernmost part of the British Isles) was just the place to grow them. And a declining ship building industry meant a ready supply of carpenters to knock out greenhouses.
By 1950 seven percent of Guernsey was under glass tended by two thousand commercial growers (total island pop. 45,347). Ten years later half a billion tomatoes were being picked and packed and sent to England. However years later still Dutch growers were contending for England’s tom-love. Then in 1979 the oil crisis, sparked by the Iranian revolution, was the final factor in the industry’s collapse.
Now all that is left are acres of glasshouses empty or often full of weeds and brambles trying to elbow their way to freedom. The States of Guernsey Island Development Plan is providing some help to owners to enable these sites to enjoy a new lease of life.
Out of control
Bidding for freedom