Founded by George Strickland (1780-1859) as a corn and seed merchants in Hastings prior to 1820, trading from George Street initially. There are some records that George traded from at least 1804, although he seems initially to have dealt in fruit, vegetables and general provisions, and may well have had a market garden.
When George's son, Edmund, who also traded as a coal merchant in Hastings took over the business, he expanded the corn and seed business into Hailsham and obtained premises in the railway yard which were probably built circa 1860. His sons George, William and Edmund became involved in the Hailsham side of the business, this becoming Strickland Brothers.
The brothers business became incorporated in 1899 as Stricklands Ltd. The company occupied a warehouse at Bear Yard, Cliffe, Lewes, in around 1880, which was probably vacated after damage sustained when the adjoining Bear Hotel was destroyed by fire in July 1918. Another 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, later becoming F. Strickland & Sons Ltd. The firm Stricklands Ltd ran into financial difficulties after the First World War. The three brothers, George, William and Edmund had died, and the firm was being run by a manager. The two sons of Francis Strickland, William Francis Norman Strickland (?-?) and Arthur George Strickland (?-?), who were involved with the firm at Hastings, were subsequently 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, with ventures into farming, and purchased Bellhurst Farm in Etchingham in 1917. This farm kept pedigree black pigs and a Guernsey dairy herd and 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 a 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 having already been built in Station Road, Hailsham, during the war.
Consolidation and Sale
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.
Due to the acquisition of the goodwill of the F Strickland & Sons seed business, the business at Hailsham was continued by the new owners (J Vinnicombe & Son of Littlehampton) under the resurrected name of Stricklands Ltd, although it was now separate from the family business.
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.
Garden and Pet shops
F Strickland & Sons Ltd was concerned primarily with a chain of eight 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 deceased. The shops were sold off, leaving only one shop trading under the Strickland name in St Leonards on Sea - that at 35 Sedlescombe Road North, although there was no family connection. Stricklands’ colourful forecourt displays of plants, which were a landmark of Silverhill, developed from the days of a few plants being placed outside the shop door on up-turned potato boxes. For a long time the forecourt was occupied by a glass greenhouse which, in the 10 years it stood, (1970’s) was never vandalised or broken in to. In spring it was not unusual for over 1000 plants to be displayed on the forecourt. This shop closed in 2018.
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.
The firm operated from a shop in Sedlescombe Road North where the bingo hall currently stands (ex Co-op). They had agricultural stores in Silverlands Road and Chatham Road. At some time, the latter site passed to Alsford Timber Merchants and was then sold for development – resulting in the terrace of housing which now occupies the site.
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. The records of this firm are, for some reason, intermingled with those of Stricklands at the National Archives. 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.