History book on seed firm needs your memories

The view over Sharpes Seeds' warehouse complex off Southgate in 1966. EMN-190309-151126001
The view over Sharpes Seeds' warehouse complex off Southgate in 1966. EMN-190309-151126001

A retired managing director of Sleaford’s internationally-known firm, Charles Sharpe Seeds, is seeking memories from former employees to add colour to a book he is writing on its history.

Mike Ruthven worked for the company from 1984 to 2000 and has based the book on his own notes and memories as well as delving into company archives he rescued before it left the town afterseveral take overs.

He said the first part is known as The Golden Years, from its foundation to the 1970s. The second part will look into the ‘turbulent times’ under Booker and Advanta, GM crop contamination, and government inquiries.

Mr Ruthven, who lives in Grantham, said: “A lot will be well known to people locally but I have come across some new things too.

“The company was ranked by The Times up to the last war and beyond among the most important seed companies in the world.

“It originated with Charles Sharpe’s father, John and became a limited company around 1900, and a public company in 1920, remaining on the London Stock Exchange until taken over by Booker in 1985. At one time, I believe it had over 300 employees, and is remembered with affection and some awe.”

The company had warehouses off Southgate and Boston Road, Jermyn Street, along with more land near Sleaford station and trial grounds on Boston Road.

Mr Ruthven said he became interested in researching the book after hearing a talk on the company over 10 years ago, but said: “I need a human element as well and am asking for people’s memories and memorabilia, perhaps from family and friends so that I have something from the shop floor and offices. I have spoken to some already.”

You can email details to: 050965sandm@gmail.com

He now hopes to finish the book by the middle of next year.