Worthy Park patented by Francis Price, a lieutenant in the British army.
Worthy Park was first patented by Francis Price, a lieutenant in the British army. The land was gifted to Price for his services to Cromwell during English capture of the island from the Spanish in 1655.
Francis Price, like many of the first British settlers in Jamaica, most likely came from Barbados or the Leewards where the surname Price was by no means uncommon.It is even possible that the founder of Worthy Park was not originally an officer, but having some pretentions toward gentility, was commissioned later to help fill the awful gaps torn in the ranks by disease.
On Francis Price’s plantation at Guanaboa (patented in 1665) there were cocoa walks and provision grounds, and this appears to have been typical of the very earliest English Jamaican plantations. In 1670 however, a disastrous blight fell upon Jamaica’s cacao trees and the switch to sugar became inevitable.
Francis Price in early 1970 was able to select the most desirable land in Lluidas because he was only the second patentee in the valley. He had been preceded by Richard Garland and John Eaton, partners who previously held little more than the bare minimum of the original grant of thirty acres each, with 100 acres in lower St. John’s.
The development of Lluidas spread out from Worthy Park’s fertile nucleus towards the less desirable fringes of the valley. The 20 or so patentees who followed Francis Price into Lluidas took out lands immediately adjacent to those already patented. Worthy Park became the only estate in Lluidas to survive in an unbroken line and eventually dominate the valley, yet down to the 19th century it was no more than one of 5 or 6 estates within the circumference of the limestone walls of Lluidas Vale.
Commercial sugar production begins and continues unabated to this day.
Commercial sugar production at Worthy Park began in 1720 and has continued unabated to this day.
The period from 1715-1730 was one of crucial relative growth in the history of Jamaica and Jamaican sugar. In 1700, Jamaica, though thirty times the size of Barbados, produced only half as much sugar as them. Yet by 1730, it had equaled the production of Barbados and by 1740 exceeded the production of the Leewards and Barbados combined. By 1763 Jamaica produced four times as much sugar as Barbados and more than half the combined total for all British colonies.
Over the slightly longer period, British West Indian colonies benefited from the expanded trade in the Caribbean region. Shipping, capital and capitalistic expertise built up as a result of the trade with Spanish colonies, and with the bursting of the ‘South Sea’ boom in 1720 and the growing activity of the Spanish guarda costas, much of these were redirected to the British colonies, particularly to Jamaica.
First record of rum production at Worthy Park, predating any Jamaican distilleries still in operation.
First ever record of rum production at Worthy Park was in 1741, predating any Jamaican distilleries still in operation.
The transaction reads as such:
“Memorandum this 23rd day of March One Thousand Seven Hundred and Forty-one that Charles Price personally appeared before me and made Oath that he believes the above Account to be true and just.
Taken and known before me the day and year above written.
Signed by : Charles Price and Den Kelly.
An Account of the Produce of the Estate of the late Charles Price called Worthy Park Plantation the Parish of St. Thomas’s in the Vale in the Year 1741.
Sugar 8201 Cotts.
Rum 3000 Gallons.”
Aqueduct authorized by special Act of Assembly and steered through by Speaker Charles Price.
The aqueduct from Murmuring Brook to Worthy Park was authorized by the special Act of Assembly which was steered through by Speaker Charles Price. Still operating today, it supplies water to the sugar factory, distillery and residences at the estate.
Sir Charles Price was instrumental in supplying Worthy Park, along with 2 neighboring estates, with the commodity in which they were chiefly deficient: running water. The Act was not confirmed by the King until August 1760, but by that time the aqueduct had probably already been in existence for some years. The Worthy Park ‘gutter wall’ is still in working order today with much of the 18th century brick and stone work still intact. It provided the chief water supply for Lluidas Vale as well as the Worthy Park factory and was considered to be a very impressive engineering feat for Jamaica at the time. To follow its curving 2 mile course is to become convinced of the importance of Worthy Park during the Golden Age of Sugar.
The Murmuring Brook stream was tapped at the top of the Laughing lands, just before it petered out in the tumbled porous rocks of the Great Gully. The aqueduct followed the walls of the Gully, so that it is often near the top of precipitous slopes about 50-60 feet high. Three quarters of a mile from the source, it was first harnessed by the Murmuring Brook factory, the huge housing of the water-wheel and the ruined buildings of which can still be seen. The water may have also been utilized by Shady Grove, the small estate built up around the present site of Lluidas Vale by Dr. John Quier between 1767 and 1822. Finally, the aqueduct reached Worthy Park sugar mill, where a huge dormant water-wheel can still be seen, though it dates all the way back from 1866. It is doubtless that waterpower revolutionized the operation of Worthy Park, and once the huge expense of building the aqueduct had become overcome, her profitability was enhanced as well as her productivity. After the construction of adequate roads into Lluidas Vale and the building of the Murmuring Brook aqueduct, no Price would be able to persuade his neighbors at Lluidas Vale to give up his sugar land as long as the sugar boom lasted.
Sale of Worthy Park to Earl of Shrewsbury and Talbot for £8,550.
In 1863 Worthy Parkwas sold to the Earl of Shrewsbury and Talbot for £8,550 GBP. This ended the Price era.
Worthy Park was typical of the estates sold under the terms of The Encumbered Estates Act of 1854. The long struggle for the Prices for survival was mercifully ended, and during the subsequent 65 years three fresh owners took up the hopeless task in turn.
In retrospect, the period from 1863-1918 seems merely the gloomy trough of a long drawn out depression between two summits of prosperity. Although Worthy Park had been called the best sugar estate in Jamaica, the highest bid received at the first auction was one of £3,500. The estate was consequently withdrawn from the market. On December 24, 1862 however, it was decided to sell at auction the following summer at whatever price. The auction was held on June 23, 1863 and although there was a large attendance and considerable competition, Worthy Park was sold to the Earl of Shrewsbury and Talbot Belgrave Square for £8,500. The price received represented little more than an eighth of Worthy Park’s debts or a sixteenth of the value placed on the estate by Sir Rose Price in 1834.
Both of Worthy Park’s new owners went on to careers that were as successful as the estate itself was undistinguished, and for the first time Worthy Park was at the very periphery of a family’s interest. In fact, only one of the owners ever visited Worthy Park, a brief visit in 1875. It was a most inauspicious time to take over a Jamaican plantation chiefly devoted to sugar production, since conditions for British colonial sugar were bad and gradually growing worse.
J.V. Calder purchases Worthy Park for £8,200.
Worthy Park was purchased for £8,200 by John Vassal Calder, who raised cattle population to 800 and introduced cocoa and bananas.
J.V. Calder was a pen-keeper from Westmorland. He’d become completely disillusioned with sugar production yet determined to make what he could from his splendid new property. By 1902, 149 acres of cocoa were being grown when a disastrous hurricane swept through central Jamaica wiping out Worthy Park’s trees. Undaunted, Calder replanted and by 1910 Worty Park was the third largest producer of cocoa in Jamaica with 300 acres.
Throughout the First World War prices continued to be good and in 1917 Worthy Park reached a peak of production with 400 acres in cultivation. By that time however, West Africa had started to produce cocoa in huge quantities under the aegis of the British chocolate firms, and with the end of the war came the end of the modest Jamaica cocoa boom.
Cattle remained important at Worthy Park throughout the Talbot period, but overtook sugar and all other crops combined in importance during the regime of J.V. Calder. A large cattle population also greatly benefited an estate by providing much needed manure. Under the Talbots Worthy Park had kept between 200 and 300 cattle, but after 1899 these numbers were more than doubled, reaching a peak of 800 in 1913.
Cocoa and bananas were faring much better, but cattle upon which Calder heavily relied, suffered along with sugar since the general depression priced beef out of the Jamaican consumers and the closure of estates reduced demand for working steers to a trickle. Worn out from overwork and isolation, J.V Calder’s health deteriorated- and with 3 of his 4 sons off at the war, he allowed the estate to slip into an even deeper state of dilapidation. In 1917 he was forced to go to New York for a serious operation and rumors of a potential sale began to circulate. In the greatest secrecy, Fred Clarke cabled to J.V. Calder in New York and began negotiations.
Frederick L. Clarke buys Worthy Park for £44,000.
Frederick L. Clarke of Westmorland bought Worthy Park for £44,000. Now in its 4th generation, the Clarke family has owned and operated Worthy Park since 1918.
Frederick’s father, Henry, emigrated to Jamaica at the age of 18 in 1846 and became an Anglican Minister. He was a founding member of the Westmoreland Building Society (now the Jamaica National Building Society).
One of Henry’s five sons, Frederick Lister Clarke acquired Worthy Park for £44,000, approximately £2.8million adjusted for inflation.
Fred was struck by the tremendous area of Worthy Park’s land and the wild beauty of its setting, but found that the estate had deteriorated even further than he’d imagined. He took up residence at Worthy Park before the Calders had even finished packing up, arriving with his secretary Stanley Ricards and spending a week riding around counting, inspecting and planning developments. Fred’s efforts during the first 3 years at Worthy Park were the finest achievements of his busy life. Increasing efficiency and expanding production with tireless ingenuity, Fred did not allow the record sugar prices of 1920 to waylay him into a fool’s paradise, but ploughed back income into improvements, so that Worthy Park was narrowly able to withstand later shocks.
Due in part to unfortunate timing, Fred Clarke never realized the long-term financial stability he sought, but through his tireless efforts he was able to leave a strong legacy for his children to take over. In the waning years of his life, Fred tripled cane cultivation, doubled the cane yield per acre, and increased overall production eight-fold. Today, the estate owns and operates its own sugar mill, and as such the distillery has ready access to an ample supply of high quality molasses.
Rum production ceases in the early 1960's under agreement with the Jamaican Government.
Production of rum ceased in the early 1960’s under an agreement with the Spirits Pool Association of Jamaica due to overproduction of Jamaica rum.
Before that, Worthy Park had been producing rum intermittently since the 1740’s. When there was an oversupply of Jamaican Rum following World War II, Worthy Park reached an agreement with the Spirits Pool Association of Jamaica to cease production in 1962.
Worthy Park was out of the rum business. Thankfully, only temporarily!
Worthy Park breathes new life into the estate by building a state-of-the art distillery to resume its tradition of rum production.
After being out of the distillation business for decades, the Clarke family decided in 2004 that there was room for another Jamaican rum, made with quality ingredients in a perfect contrast by distilling in the Traditional Jamaican Pot-Still method however with efficiency and state-of-the-art equipment helping us get there.
In 2005, a new distillery was built, and in 2007 Worthy Park began shipping rum once again after a forty-five year break. The new still was built by Forsyths in Scotland, and is the classic pot and twin retort arrangement famous throughout the Caribbean. The distillery was the brainchild of Fred’s great-grandson Gordon Clarke, who today is the Co-Managing Director of Worthy Park, and the driving force behind the Rum Bar and Worthy Park rum brands.
Rum-Bar White Overproof Rum released!
The Rum-Bar brand pays tribute to the traditional rum bars that are spread across the communities on the island of Jamaica.
These tiny watering holes dotting the roadsides provide relief from the sun and a community gathering place. Most rum bars keep it simple, serving up white overproof rum with simple mixers, like fresh juice or soda.
White Overproof rum is the top selling style of rum in Jamaica and Rum-Bar is one of the most popular rum brands on the island of Jamaica. Many local bars are “branded” with the Rum-Bar banner.
Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve released!
Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve launched.
An authentic and traditional Jamaican rum and our first release under our Worthy Park range of bottlings. A blend of our 100% copper pot-still rums that have been aging between 6-10 years; this blend has been created to showcase the unique complexity and distinctive taste that Worthy Park has to offer. 100% single estate product; batch distilled, aged, blended and bottled on site.
An exceptional expression of pure, single Jamaican rum, this rum is aged in American White Oak ex-Bourbon barrels. It is a natural, light amber color; the nose is punchy with upfront aromas of light tobacco and toasted oak with spicy fruit – raisins and plums. With time light notes of vanilla become evident. On the mouth luscious and tropical fruits with a soft, buttery and almost creamy texture. Dry and slightly bitter, soft tannins are rounded out by toasted oak and nutmeg. A hint of black pepper finished off with a touch of ginger as it lingers with its soft, dry finish.
This is the Worthy Park Estate
Nestled in the Vale of Lluidas, or Lluidas Vale as it is commonly known, the landscaped greenery that encompasses Worthy Park offers a glimpse into a different side of Jamaica. Located in the central parish of St. Catherine, far from the white sand beaches and palm trees, a visit to Worthy Park is a trip back in time to the days of unspoiled landscapes and natural beauty that had given rise to Jamaica being known as the “Land of wood and water”.
The Worthy Park Estate has remained this way since it’s inception in 1670. It was gifted to Lt. Francis Price for his services to Cromwell during the English capture of the island from the Spanish in 1655. It has expanded since then through the acquisition of neighboring properties.
Commercial production of cane and sugar began in 1720 and has continued unabated until this day. Since then it has only been under ownership by three families and has been in the hands of the Clarke family since 1918. In that time Worthy Park has not only engaged in cane farming and sugar production but the land has been used for beef cattle, citrus, poultry and other agricultural crops. However, there has been a consistent reduction in cultivation of other crops and livestock in favour of an increased cultivation of cane and sugar production.
Of the over 10, 000 acres of land approximately 40% of the land is currently in sugar cultivation. There are as many as 20 cane varieties growing however, most acreage is of the top three performers.
The sugar season in Jamaica lasts from January through the end of June. Since it is a 24-hour operation in season, the other months of the year are dedicated to a complete servicing of all of the equipment in the sugar factory.
While the traditional, and preferred, method of harvesting cane is by hand, for the past 20 years Worthy Park has also used combine cane harvesters to assist in the daily supply of cane to the sugar factory.
Our sugar factory has been rated #1 on the island for efficiency every year since 1968.
Approximately 210, 000 tonnes of cane is milled annually. Upwards of 90, 000 tonnes are supplied by Worthy Park with the supply supplemented by purchases from the local farmers. 2015 saw a record year with 246, 647 tonnes of cane milled.
The average annual sugar output of the factory is 24, 000 tonnes and 2015 saw us fall just shy of the 2014 record for output (27, 632 versus 27, 656).