There are a number of gaps in our knowledge of the history of F Strickland & Sons and related companies due to the loss of records in fires at the mill at Earl Street, Hastings in February 1937, and at premises in Hailsham in October 1945. There are no early minute books. For histories of the Strickland family and the firm, see AMS 6630/25/1-4.
George Strickland was born in Appledore, Kent on 5 December 1780, and died at Hastings on 1 April 1859. He founded the business of corn and seed merchants in Hastings prior to 1820. He traded from at least 1804, although seems initially to have dealt mainly in fruit, vegetables and general provisions, and may have had a market garden.
He was succeeded by his son Edmund (1806-1897), who also traded as a coal merchant in Hastings. Edmund expanded the corn and seed business to Hailsham, and had premises in the railway yard which were probably built around 1860. His sons George (1835-1891), William (1836-1918) and Edmund (1844-1917) became involved in the Hailsham side of the business, which became known as Strickland Brothers.
Strickland Brothers was incorporated in 1899 as Stricklands, Ltd (referred to here as Stricklands Ltd, which was the form more commonly used). The company has a warehouse at Bear Yard, Cliffe, Lewes, from around 1880, which was probably vacated after damage sustained when the adjoining Bear Hotel was destroyed by fire in July 1918. A warehouse was built at North Quay, Newhaven, probably around 1901, to handle imported oats and linseed cake, and this burnt down in January 1940. The company also had at one time premises in Heathfield, Littlehampton and Chichester.
The Hastings business was run separately by Edmund's youngest son, Francis (1849-1920), and this later became F Strickland & Sons Ltd. Stricklands Ltd ran into financial difficulties after the First World War. The three brothers, George, William and Edmund had died, and the firm was run by a manager. The two sons of Francis Strickland. William Francis Norman Strickland and Arthur George Strickland, who were involved with their father's firm at Hastings, were asked to revive Stricklands Ltd of Hailsham in 1926. The two firms of F Strickland & Sons and Stricklands Ltd were then effectively run together under almost identical management but with largely different ownership.
F Strickland & Sons expanded into the seed potato business during the 1920s. It also ventured into farming, and purchased Bellhurst Farm in Etchingham in 1917. The farm kept pedigree black pigs and a Guernsey dairy herd. It was sold in 1941. The firm developed a factory for the manufacture of compound animal feeds at Earl Street, Hastings. This was largely destroyed by fire in February 1937, and production continued from Newhaven until the fire there in 1940. Yet another fire which originated in the adjoining egg packing station devastated the original warehouse of Stricklands Ltd in the station yard at Hailsham in 1945; a new mill for the production of animal feeds and processing seeds had already been built in Station Road, Hailsham, during the war.
The two firms were amalgamated as F Stricklands & Sons Ltd in 1960, following the death of Arthur Strickland in 1957. In 1967 the Hailsham mill and the business carried on from it was sold to Messrs Crosfield and Calthrop Ltd of Liverpool. The seed potato department and the retail shops were not included in the sale.
Confusingly, the business at Hailsham was continued by the new owners under the resurrected name of Stricklands Ltd, although it was now separate from the family business. J Vinnicombe & Son Ltd of Littlehampton acquired the goodwill of the seed trade run by F Strickland & Sons, and merged it with their own.
Any remaining interests of Stricklands Ltd continued under the name of Ellis Brothers (Warbleton) Ltd, since 1932 a wholly owned subsidiary of F Strickland & Sons, for the origins of which see below. The ultimate holding company was A O Pelling & Sons. In a complicated sleight of hand, F Strickland & Sons Ltd assumed the name of A O Pelling Ltd in July 1984, and Lock & Cargill Ltd was incorporated as its trading subsidiary. The company Lock & Cargill was dormant by the following year, and was struck off the register of companies in April 1988.
F Strickland & Sons Ltd was concerned primarily with a chain of retail garden and pet shops after the 1967 sale. The sales catalogue for 1970 lists garden shops at 23 Castle Street, Hastings; 35 Sedlescombe Road North, St Leonards on Sea; 26 High Street, Hailsham; 4 High Street, Seaford; 35/37 High Street, Cranbrook; Grimsdick & Son, Sussex Square, Haywards Heath. The office was at 67 George Street, Hastings, and the store at Apex Mill, Heathfield.
In 1992 it was decided to wind the company of F Stricklands Ltd up and create a partnership between Michael Francis Strickland and John Strickland, with effect from July 1992. Both are now (2003) deceased. The shops have been sold off and there is only one shop trading under the Strickland name in St Leonards on Sea, although there is no family connection.
The archive also includes records for a number of associated companies and subsidiaries, some of which were taken over because they owed money to the Strickland companies:
R Burgess & Co, corn seed and agricultural merchants
The firm, which was based in Station Road Robertsbridge, was purchased in 1934 by F Strickland & Sons Ltd.
The company was established in 1933 to acquire and take over certain of the assets of the business of Carr, Macdonald & Clevely Ltd, millers, of Britannia Mill, Heathfield, including the trade name "Carmac". It was a wholly owned subsidiary of Stricklands Ltd.
Ellis Brothers (Warbleton) Ltd
The company was established in 1932, and seems to have been the result of a takeover of the business of Thomas Ellis of Summer Hill Mill, Warbleton, miller, who owed money to Stricklands Ltd.
In 1967 the Hailsham mill and business, including the name of Stricklands Ltd, was sold to Messrs Crosfield and Calthrop Ltd of Liverpool. The original company under the name of Stricklands Ltd changed its name to Ellis Brothers (Warbleton) Ltd. Ellis Brothers (Warbleton) was struck off the register at Companies House in 1985.
George Thwaites and William Winter of Hastings, ship builders
George Thwaites and William Winter were ship builders from the 1820s to 1842, and the shipyard was on the beach opposite Pelham Crescent (now the site of Pelham Place car park), Hastings. Their association with the Strickland company is not clear, but may be as a result of the connection with the firm of Winter & Wingfield (see Winter & Wingfield below).
J Hoad & Co of Bexhill, corn merchants
The business of James Hoad & Co, corn merchant and corn dealer, Down Mill, Bexhill, which owed money to F Strickland & Co, was purchased in 1929
Ovenden's Dicker Mills Ltd of Hellingly
The company was based in Hellingly and was established in 1931; A G Strickland was appointed chairman in 1932 and the firm was a subsidiary of Stricklands Ltd. Trading ceased in 1948, and it was resolved that steps would be taken to liquidate the company.
A O Pelling Ltd
The firm of A O Pelling Ltd was established in August 1937, and F Strickland & Sons Ltd was its only trading subsidiary. The company was renamed F Strickland & Sons in July 1984, and at the same time its former trading subsidiary, F Strickland & Sons, changed its name and was incorporated under the name of Lock & Cargill Ltd.
Wagstaff (Seed Potatoes Ltd) of Sandy. Bedfordshire
The company was established in June 1967 to carry on part of the seed potato business of Charles Wagstaff & Son Ltd, St Neots Road, Sandy, Bedford. In March 1986 the auditors applied to the registrar of companies for the company to be struck off the register.
Winter & Wingfield, of Hastings, builders and plasterers
Winter and Wingfield were bricklayers and plasterers of Courthouse Street. Hastings, during the 1820s and 1830s. It has not been possible to discover why the records are with those of the Strickland family. The firm seems to have increasingly functioned as a carrier, rather than as builders, and often delivered coal. Edmund Strickland (1806-1897) was a coal merchant, and this might imply that the firm was taken over.