Heritage group seeks memories of old Docking firm

Docking Heritage Group members, from left, Jean Torrice, Reg Wells and Jean Hewitt with a 40-year-old photographic album of a visit by the Duke of Kent to the village's recently closed seed plant breeder merchants
Docking Heritage Group members, from left, Jean Torrice, Reg Wells and Jean Hewitt with a 40-year-old photographic album of a visit by the Duke of Kent to the village's recently closed seed plant breeder merchants
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Historians are appealing for help to tell the story of a village company which has closed its doors after more than a century.

Members of the Docking Heritage Group hope residents can help them build a picture of local seed and plant breeder merchants, Limograin

Members, from left, Ruth Parnell, secretary Helena Aldis and Claude Riches, look though some of the many seed and plant breeders merchants' photographs already donated to the Docking Heritage Group

Members, from left, Ruth Parnell, secretary Helena Aldis and Claude Riches, look though some of the many seed and plant breeders merchants' photographs already donated to the Docking Heritage Group

The firm shut in February after more than 100 years as a major business in the village.

And the group wants to make the history of the company a significant part of this year’s annual village exhibition in early May.

To do that, they plan to create a time-line, similar to a family tree, showing the progress of this important firm during its many changes of ownership over the years.

Group secretary Helena Aldis said: “We thought as we have already been the recipient of various bits of memorabilia we would use it as the centre piece of the exhibition.

“It was a huge employer in the village for a long time. It was a big part of village life.

“We would love to hear from anyone with photographs, documents and other artefacts or personal memories of the company.”

Records show the company was formed as a specialist seed merchant in 1898 by a C.W. Marsters who bought out a malsters and corn merchants that had been formed in the village in 1879.

Through its lifetime the company has been owned by companies including Hilleshog, Advanta Seeds, ICI and Miln Marsters.

C.W. Marsters was a descendant of a farming family whose history as part of the village can be traced back to the early 1800s.

He made a smart business move by buying buildings alongside the railway, which had just reached Docking. That provided him with a swift and efficient outlet to the rest of the country for his seeds.

Initially the company were simply buyers and sellers of seeds but, gradually, in the 1960’s they also become breeders in their own right.

It was such a successful move that the company moved into new and larger premises in 1979. The group has an album of colour photographs recording the official opening by the Duke of Kent and it is hoped ex-employees will be able to identify those in the photographs.

Group members will be in the Ripper hall on the High Street each Wednesday, between 10am and noon, to gather memories of the company. The exhibition will take place on May 6 and 7.