The iconic Aylesbury Duck played a starring role in TV’s Hairy Bikers recently - so we decided to make a video showcasing our most famous of birds.
The latest Hairy Bikers series, featuring chefs David Myers and Simon King, celebrates the best of Great British food, and the pair came to the Vale to meet the last remaining Aylesbury Duck producers Richard and Beverly Waller at the Aylesbury Duck Farm in Chesham, and find out how the family business has developed since the 1700s.
Mr Waller said: “It was a cottage industry where farm workers and such like would rear a few a year and it was purely and simply for a bit of extra money for a the family and bought the children perhaps a new pair of shoes for the winter or the wife a new coat.
“My grandfather and father then evolved with it in the early 1900s to make it into a business rather than just a sideline.
“Unfortunately for the Aylesbury Duck industry in the 1930s and 1940s mass production took over, this overtook my father in the end and we now just stand as a small producer, producing the old Aylesbury Duck exactly as it was 200 years ago.”
The programme also met chef Jonathan O’Keeffe at The Kings Head in Ivinghoe, which is one of just a few eateries to stock the genuine product.
Despite its iconic look - the precise origin of the Aylesbury Duck is unclear, as in the 18th century duck breeds were not recorded as meticulously.
However - white ducks were particularly prizes as their feathers we able to be used to stuff quilts, as well as their meat used for the table.
Since at least the 1690s ducks were farmed in Aylesbury, and farming the breed which was then known as the English White became popular with ‘duckers’ in this area.
The tradition is still celebrated today by The Aylesbury Club, which hosts the Annual Duck Dinner - and of course our very own Aylesbury United FC are known as ‘the ducks’ in homage to the beloved bird.
To find out more about The Aylesbury Duck Farm CLICK HERE
The Hairy Bikers episode is avilable now to view on the iPlayer.