The citrus trade. Between the Azores & Britain, hear how it all began, 200 years later.
Take a walk around the beautiful harbour and old town of Ponta Delgada and hear how the Azores built the citrus trade to Britain, changed gin and tonics forever as where California and Florida’s Original orange trees came from.
Even today there is evidence of the great orange-growing industry that dominated several of the islands in the 19th century; look in the numerous small gardens with their tall enclosing hedges of banksias and pittosporum. Grand townhouses also reflect the wealth this crop generated, and the development of the countryside by land purchased for rural estates is significant history. Far less known are the implications all these oranges had for transportation between the Azores and England, the major export customer. Citrus was a luxury fruit, available in season from November to May only, and its peak of desirability for the Victorians was Christmas when oranges and lemons were the fruit to have displayed on the table. And most of these came from the Azores.
Take a walk around the city center and discover more about the old town and the impact that the citrus trade had on the Azores and the UK’s fasination with the citurus fruit.
‘Buy my fresh St Michael’s’ was a common streetseller’s cry, although it is doubtful that, like today, many customers would have known where ‘St Michael’s’ was.
At first English, merchants came out to the Azores at the start of the season to supervise purchase and loading, but by the mid 19th century many, along with their families, lived permanently on São Miguel in their large houses.
Loading was done with small boats from the shore taking the boxes out to the waiting ships. Speed in loading was vital, for should bad weather suddenly blow in, the vessel would have to stand out to sea only part-loaded, and several days might pass before loading could be completed. In 1854, 60 million oranges and 15 million lemons were exported to London alone, using at least 70 vessels
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