Historic Lemon Industry


Lemon trees were planted and used in the First and Second Convict Settlements. Lemons are high in vitamin C, which prevented scurvy. By the time the Pitcairners arrived in 1856, lemon trees were growing wild on the island.

About the time of the First World War a lemon industry was developed because in Australia, the war had increased the demand but workforce was smaller. Consequently, between 1914 and 1916 a number of Australian companies such as the United Condiment Company and Wilson & Co established several lemon factories on Norfolk Island.  The resulting investment, wages and duties were a major boost to the island’s economy. In 1917, 901 casks of lemon juice and 1,121 casks of peel were exported. This was from about 4 million lemons! Lemon seed was also exported.  At its peak in 1921 the lemon industry accounted for £13,727 or 57% of the island’s exports. The lemon factories were paying daily wages of 6 to 8 shillings to between 100 and 150 workers but as the Australian citrus industry revived in the 1920s, the island’s lemon industry quickly declined.

Workers at one of the factories

In 1916 Elsie Adams went to Sydney where she organised help to establish a lemon peel factory which was set up in the corner of the new gaol. Little family run factories were dotted all over the island. These factories were usually rough wooden buildings divided into one room with long rows of sorting bins, another room cutting and squeezing and another with great vats of brine where peel was stored and soaked.

To get the casks to market, the casks were either hoisted into whaleboats or dropped into the sea and roped together, forming long rafts, which were towed out to the steamer.


Dem plunt en yuusa Lemon trees iin daa Fus en Secun Konvikt Setelment. Lemon ess hii iina vitamin C, wuthen ell stopa scurvi. Bii daa tiim dem Pitcairners arriiv iin 1856, lemon trees ess growen wild orna ailen.

Bout daa tiim o’daa Fus World War wun lemon industr wos developed siid iin Australia, daa war se increase daa demand but daa workfors es smorler. Consequentli, tween 1914 en1916 wun numba o’ Australian companies simis daa United Condiment Company en Wilson & Co establish several lemon factories orn Norfuk Ailen  Daa resulten investment, waeg ena duties ess major boost gen daa ailens’ economi. Iin 1917, 901 casks o’ lemon juis en ,121 casks o’ peel se export et. Deer ess from bout 4 million lemons! Dem orlso export de lemon seed.  At ets peak iin 1921 daa lemon industri account fe £13,727 or 57% o’daa ailen’s exports. Dem lemon factori bin pae daili waegs o’ 6 to 8 shillings to tween 100 en 150 workers but as daa Australian citrus industri reviiv iin dem1920s, daa ailen’s lemon industr quickli decliin.

Workers at one of the factories

Iin 1916 Elsie Adams go gen Sydney siid she organiis halp fe establish wun lemon peel factory sid bin set up iin daa corner fe daa new gaol. Letl famili run factori se dot et orla bout daa ailen. Dee factori ess usualli rugh wooden bildings se deviid et eento wun room witha lorng roe o’ sorten bin, nada room fe cut en squeeze et en nada witha great vats o’ brine siid dem peel es stoor et en sok et.

Fe get dem carsk gena market, dem carsk se either hoist et eento dem whaelboets ula drop et iina sea en roep togada, meken a lorng raft, wuthen dem ell tow out gen daa steama.