It all began back in 1923 when Charles Griffin decided it was time to move home. So he, his wife Mary and their five children loaded their belongings on to wagons, rounded up their herd of 15 milking cows and made their way from Grove Farm, Brading to Briddlesford Farm just a few miles away.
Now 90 years on, the Griffin family are still farming at Briddlesford and are accepted as having among the finest dairy cattle not only on the Island, but throughout the country. Amazingly all the cattle they have bred over the years have descended from the 15 cows Charles initially took with him.
Tragically, a year after moving to Briddlesford, Charles died, leaving his wife and children to continue the business. The farm gradually grew in size and stature, but they could not possibly have envisaged the massive changes that have taken place in the subsequent years.
Charles’ son John eventually took over the farm. He was succeeded by Richard, and now his son Paul is in charge at Briddlesford, but with Richard still playing an active part in the business. Paul is married to Chris who runs the popular Bluebells cafe at Briddlesford, while his sister Louise is in charge of the equally popular Briddlesford Farm Shop on the site. Meanwhile nephew Christy Flux, the next generation, is already working at the farm.
Richard and his wife Judi still live at Briddlesford Farm and are approaching their golden wedding anniversary. Richard still feeds the calves while Judi, a former Isle of Wight High Sheriff, reckons she ‘tends the plants that are sold, and generally gets in the way’!
Judi recalled some of the good and not so good times the family have enjoyed during their tenure. She said: “There was electricity here when I arrived in 1963. It had only been here for five years, but at least it meant there were milking machines.
“The storm of 1987 was particularly bad for us. Half the farm blew away, and we had no electricity for a week, which was pretty devastating. But perhaps just as devastating was the barn fire that we had in 1996. It was a new barn full of winter feed, and it was all destroyed, causing £40,000 worth of damage.”
Colin Langridge worked at Briddlesford farm for more than 50 years, starting as a 14-year-old in 1944, and riding his bike from Wootton each day. Judi recalls: “Colin worked with horses, and then with tractors and even taught himself how to mend them. He was a big part of the farm until his death.”
With dairy farming faltering in the 1990s the decision was taken to open the farm shop at Briddlesford. Despite the difficulties the farm continued to develop and keep pace with change, and is now a highly efficient, scientifically run operation that ensures the 150-strong pedigree Guernsey herd are the best fed, cared for and best milk yielders anywhere in the country, as recent top awards testify.