In May 1898 James Thomas & Co. was established to carry out the business of flour and corn merchants. There were seven original share-holders, of whom the presiding director was James Thomas of 20 High Street, Newport. A few years later he was joined by his son, Leigh Thomas, who also became a director (succeeding as chairman in 1919).
In June 1918 another company was formed known as Arnells Ltd.; this took over the part of the business of the James Thomas & Co. located at the Home Mills, Newport. Leigh Thomas was the shareholder of Arnells Ltd., along with Thomas Turley.
In 1921 these two businesses resolved to sell their properties to Thomas, Gater, Bradfield & Co., and four years later they both went into liquidation, transferring their remaining assets to the Company.
Leigh Thomas & Co. Ltd. was formed in 1934 when Leigh Thomas took control of mills at Southampton, along with Pan Mill in Newport, Emsworth properties and the Wellington Somerset agricultural business.
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