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 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 – 1940) had entered the business by 1876, which became known as Farrow & Son of Whaplode Drove, Lincolnshire. The business advertised its goods as far afield as Liverpool. Before long, Farrow & Son had branched out into mustard production.

Joseph Farrow Sr retired as a gentleman around 1883, and Joseph Farrow Jr continued the business, as well as managing farms at Spalding, Lincolnshire. By 1898 Farrow & Co was based in Boston.

Farrow & Co claimed to be the largest manufacturer of mushroom ketchup in the world in 1904. A model factory had been established at Fletton, Peterborough. 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.

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 in 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 1940, 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 in 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 in 1973 it was closed with the loss of 250 jobs, and production was relocated to Norwich.

Premier Foods sold the Farrow’s brand to Princes Foods of Liverpool in 2011.

3 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.

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