Peas in our time: Farrow’s

Farrow’s Marrowfat Processed Peas is a classic “orphan brand”. The Farrow company has long since ceased to operate, with the brand surviving as a single product line.

Joseph Farrow & Co is established
Joseph Farrow Sr (1815 – 1898), was from Dowsdale in Lincolnshire. He established himself as a manufacturer of mushroom ketchup at Parson Drove near Wisbech, Cambridgeshire in 1840.

Farrow’s son, Joseph Farrow Jr (1850 – 1939) had entered the business by 1876, which became known as Farrow & Son of Holbeach, Lincolnshire. The business advertised its goods as far afield as Liverpool.

Joseph Farrow Jr was a dedicated Baptist, a lifelong non-smoker, a Liberal and a temperance advocate.

Joseph Farrow Sr retired as a gentleman around 1883, and Joseph Farrow Jr continued the business, as well as managing farms at Spalding, Lincolnshire.

Farrow & Co branched out into mustard production from 1887.

Farrow & Co relocated to South Square, Boston from 1889.

Expanding sales saw production relocated to a model factory at Fletton, Peterborough, from 1902.

Farrow & Co claimed to be the largest manufacturer of mushroom ketchup in the world in 1904. The company also expanded into dried peas.

Farrow peas and mustard began to be branded under the A1 trademark, (no relation to Brand’s A1 sauce) from 1908. Much of the company’s mustard seed was grown on its own farms.

Moss, Rimmington & Co of Selby, mustard and twine manufacturers, was acquired by Joseph Farrow in 1912, after the former’s factory burned down. Over 300 workers had been employed at the Selby works. To absorb this new production, Farrow reopened its recently closed Boston and Holbeach works. The Peterborough site was also expanded.

Joseph Farrow & Co is acquired by Colman’s
Colman of Norwich acquired all the shares in Joseph Farrow & Co, which became a limited company, in 1912.

Farrow’s mustard production was relocated to Norwich from 1931.

The Carlton Works at Peterborough were greatly extended in 1932. In early summer, at the height of the fruit-picking season, 200 to 250 girls and women were employed.

In 1936 the company had capital of £250,000, and the first directors were Joseph Farrow Jr and his son, Joseph Algernon Farrow (1874 – 1949).

Joseph Farrow Jr died in 1939, with an estate valued at £48,000. The role of chairman was assumed by Joseph Algernon Farrow. By 1945 the company’s principal activity was the canning of fruit and vegetables.

R W Gale & Co Ltd of London, a processor of honey, was acquired in 1948.

Joseph Algernon Farrow was chairman of Farrow’s until his death in 1949. He left an estate valued at £58,000.

Gale’s production was relocated to Peterborough from 1951.

Farrow & Co was the largest subsidiary of J & J Colman Ltd by 1961, aided by the popularity of Gale’s Honey.

The Farrow’s canned vegetables business was sold to Batchelors of Sheffield, a Unilever subsidiary, in 1971.

The Peterborough factory continued to produce Gale’s honey and preserves, but  it was closed with the loss of 250 jobs in 1973, and production was relocated to Norwich.

Unilever sold Batchelors to the Campbell Soup Company in 2001. Batchelors was again sold, this time to Premier Foods, in 2006. Premier Foods sold the Farrow’s brand to Princes Foods of Liverpool in 2011.

5 thoughts on “Peas in our time: Farrow’s”

  1. Hello Thomas, I was fascinated by this post as my great grandfather Benjamin Jabez Fletcher was married to Joseph Farrow’s daughter Rosetta. After having two children she disappeared out of the village of Whaplode Drove and was only located when being buried in Boston in 1901 after becoming ill and spending a week in the Workhouse there. My Aunt always told me that Mrs. Farrow would go from house to house selling her mustard which was bought by Colmans. I did wonder if there was any truth in it and now I know! I have a friend who works for Reckitt and Colman so it is great to have a connection to the history. Thanks for posting this. I hope it is o.k. to copy the link to my public Ancestry tree (George/McDonald)? It has made my day finding this information. Best wishes, Sally George.

    1. I too am related to Joseph Farrow. My maiden name was Farrow. My father was Michael Farrow. His father was Dr. Ernest Pickworth Farrow who was a research fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge. His father was William Farrow who grew the peas on his farm. His grandfather was William Farrow whose son was Joseph Farrow snr. Looks like we’re cousins !!!. My name is Annis Sokol and you’ll find me on Facebook. Send me a message and I’ll try to work out what sort of cousins we are !!!

      1. Ok so it appears that you were a third cousin of my father and my third cousin once removed ! I looked up the Farrows and Joseph Farrow (snr) was born in 1816 and died in 1898. He had several children; Victoria, (b 1841), William, (1842-1929), Simon, (1848-1905), Joseph, (1850-1939), Julia(1853) and Rosetta (1857). My great, great grandfather was William whose middle name was Morton. He married Matilda Hipkin in 1863. Their eldest child was Ernest William who inherited the farm. He had 3 children Ernest, William and Eleanor. I think that William inherited the farm. My father was the son of Ernest and his only child. My grandparents never married but lived together at the end of Ernest’s life. I don’t know why they didn’t get married but needless to say my father wasn’t involved with his father’s family much. My mother tried to find out but didn’t get very far. Now family genealogy is all online so it is much easier. Are you in cntact with any other Farrow’s or their descendents? As I said before I am on Facebook as Annis Sokol.

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