Lockwoods Canning Factory, Long Sutton

A photo of a lorry outside Lockwoods Canning Factory at Long Sutton.  Year unknown.

Who has memories of Lockwoods, or knows when it first opened or finally closed ?

Click on image to enlarge

AOS P 2706  lockwoods long sutton

93 Responses

  1. Looks a lot like the front of Princes canning factory today, albeit with substantial modifications (only the profile and downpipes give it away). Premier Foods bought Lockwoods out of receivership in the 1980s, and Premier sold the canning factory to Princes in 2011.

    1. You missed a couple of name changes out, Charlie. I do believe you that Lockwoods were bought out by Premier foods but when I moved here in 2000 is was called HL Foods, before becoming known as Premier and then Princes.


      The factory was started as Smedleys over at Wisbech. I remember learning that Smedleys was a pea factory and after being sold, it was merged with Lockwoods of Ambergate, Derbyshire which is where I am from.

      There are so many changes in the food industry, companies will just buy out certain brands and either leave some brands to fade into obscurity or new companies buy the recipes and all they need. I remember factories near kings Lynn which were known as Del Monte but it was full of Venni trucks shunting stuff between the main HL /premier foods at Kings Lynn, Wisbech and Little Sutton . I also remember being told by another driver that the factory at clenchwarton /west lynn was the ‘relabelling plant’ where all the out of date stuff had its dates and codes scrubbed off them and they were then reprinted with a few more years on them and repackaged and shipped back out.

        1. Good day Geoff.

          This is a long shot but perhaps you might be able to help?

          I worked in that building when it was still called HL foods around 2002.
          There was someone name John Kidman working there.
          I am desperate to find him.

          Are you perhaps able to help me? please?

      1. Entirely agree about the changes in the food industry making it hard to follow who owned what and when , but I am aware that the Farrow business had canning operations in Wisbech and possibly Long Sutton. I don’t know whether they were competing factories to Smedleys or whether it was as a result of Colmans selling the canning side on, they ended up as part of Smedleys. Certainly the Farrows Marrowfat Processed Peas brand that survives to this day found its way into the Princess stable.

        The Farrow concern is the one that should be celebrated in South Holland as it was developed originally from a Tomato “Catsup” bottling concern which seems to have been very much a cottage industry from census returns tracking the life of Joseph Farrow Senior who started life in Whaplode Drove a Labourer and ended it a Gentleman. His son and daughter in law really took the business off before selling to Colman’s who were probably after the Mustard operation that had been developed. http://unilever-archives.com/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=GB1752.CON%2fJF&pos=4

        1. Hi John, Thanks so much for updates. We ought to have a coffee and see how we can develop local history regards Geoff

        2. Hi Alan,
          I know this post is from a very long time ago but I’ll try my luck and see if you get this reply. My name is Rachel I’m from Swansea, South Wales and I have a very close friend who is 94 and is originally from a village near long Sutton where he owned and ran a haulage/transport company and one of his main clients was Lockwoods Foods. Being a man that shall we say “got around a bit” In his time i.e. fought in WW2 in the airforce where he was shot down and emergency land the plane himself and survived, he wasn’t a pilot as he was 1/2 a inch too short, he was a rear air gunner/wireless operator. He then went to live and work in India for the RAF towards the end of the war and stayed there for a few years after the war ended. When he came back to the UK and to his home town where he started up his transport company. So I enjoy nothing better than sitting down for hours listening to his stories about the war, his time in India, Lockwoods, the get togethers and “business meetings” Down the

          Pub with Philip Lockwood and one afternoon I googled Lockwoods foods and came across this website and this photo of the lorry outside the factory. When I showed him this he was almost positive that the lorry was one of his. His name is Percy Pattison and I know at one point his company was called Pattison Holdings so I just wondered if you happened to know, know of or remember him? I’m not sure how long he had his company for but I know he retired in 1985 and moved to sunny Swansea to be closer to his son who had moved here years before for work. I understand it’s a really really really long shot that you might know him but I have to ask cause I know it would make his day if I could go back to him and tell him that he’s still remembered after all these years.
          Thank you so much in advance and any information you can give me is greatly appreciated.
          Rachel Wilkinson

          1. Thanks for your enquiry. We will do our best to get some answers. Regards Geoff

          2. Wonder if they would remember John Collis? My Grandfather. He too served in The RAF, pilot and trainer. Then worked for Lockwoods and Peasant boy I have been putting family history together for sometime now. Always welcome new stories and contacts.

          3. Hi Rachel my mum and dad worked at Lockwood when I was very young I still have an uncle and friend s who live around that area now my dad s surname was sleight he married my mum who came over to work from Italy that’s how they met .

      2. Absolutely spot on with the name changes Jeff. I also arrived here in 2000 and was married for a short while to a knob who drove nights for Venni shunting between Kings Lynn, Little Sutton and Wizbekistan.
        One thing I noticed today having cut through Hundreds Lane from the A17 and drove beside the Little Sutton factory is the smaller letters at the bottom of the standing Princes sign board, which said they are a part of the Mitsubishi Corporation! It rather took me by surprise. I know that many years ago, Imperial Tobacco bought out Smedleys but Mitsubishi??? I suppose they are just diversifying so if one business is in trouble, another is unlikely to be.

  2. That truck was probably the last Lockwoods as a stand alone concern ever bought. It was a 180bhp ERF and the regular driver was Ian, also known as “Yanto”. I also occasionally drove it when he was on holiday.


        1. Hi Chris,
          I worked at Lockwoods in the summer of 1975. I remember a very fine and friendly gentleman, working probably as a supervisor, who used to be a Spitfire pilot during the 2nd WW. He was proudly telling us about his war adventures and what a nightmare he was for the Germans. He always used to carry in his pocket a bottle of wine he made from various fruits and vegetables, including carrots, blackcurrants and strawberries. It is
          a shame that I do not remember his name, but I fondly remember his great friendship and generosity. May God rest him in peace. I hope he was your grandfather, Mr. John Collis.

          1. My husband worked several summers in Lockwoods and has fond memories of Charlie Wine.

          2. Please tell us some of those memories. Hopefully this post will put you in touch with ex work mates. Regards Geoff

    1. Hello Alan. I have been doing a bit of family history and tracing. My Grandfather was JC John Collis. Would you by any chance remember him? Or know of any older members of Lockwoods who may have know him. He married Anthea or Angela.

        1. I’ve fond memories working summers at Lockwoods as a seasonal employee in the pea vining shed between 1972 and 1976. I was a student at Queen’s university in Belfast. Remember the factory chemist used fruit byproduct to concoct various potent “wines”. Needless to say he was a popular man. Wages were actual pay packets!

      1. Chris,
        I was a management trainee at Lockwoods Foods in Long Sutton from 1962 to1964.
        I remember your grandfather. He was Production Director, a bit too far up the organisation to have much contact with me! I also remember an Angela.(if it is the same one). She was in Personnel I think.
        Let me know if I can be of any help and I’ll test my memory bank a bit further.

          1. Hello Geoff, I would like to talk with Elizabeth Richards, but unable to reply. Can you contact her to ask if she has an email address or phone number please.

            Many thanks

          2. Hello Geoff, I would like to talk with Elizabeth Richards, but unable to reply. Can you contact her to ask if she has an email address or phone number please.

            Many thanks

          3. I have given her your email address and asked her to contact you.

          1. I have found this site as I was looking up Savile Row, London. I worked for the Dyer brothers in Savile Row as a secretary. They were incredibly kind people. I was at the offices when the Beatles, who were in the Apple building next door to Lockwoods, played on the roof. I used to put the Lockwoods Foods magazine together. Happy Days.

      2. He was one of the directors in 1959. He married Anthea Stow, daughter of Phillip Stow who was a butcher in Long Sutton.

  3. I was a fruit importer and remember in the late 60’s and early 70’s selling Lockwoods big quantities of fresh Jaffa grapefruit which they peeled and canned. Can’t remember the name of the boss chap I dealt with…also sent some supplies up to a Lockwood factories at Forfar Scotland. Does anyone remember fresh grapefruit arriving and being processed at Long Sutton. great to find this site. regards Bill Haynes

      1. Hello Geoff. I have been doing a some family history investigation. I also had previous contact with a Bryan Harloch who passed away sometime ago. I have also established the location of my Grandfathers ashes in Lincolnshire. Do please email me chw212@btinternet.com

  4. Can anyone remember Eric Powell I would like to know more info I think he was manager.

  5. I worked in Lockwoods Long Sutton during the summers of 1975, 1976 and 1977. I was one of a large number of Irish students who came over every year to help with the canning of strawberries and peas. The girls stayed in little self-catering flats while the boys were carefully supervised in dormitories under the beady eyes of an elderly couple across the garden from the girls’s flats. At the height of the season it was very hard work with the girls maybe working 12 hour shifts while the boys worked even longer. I was lucky in that I worked in the labs with the lovely elderly chemist MrEaton, during the day only going to the factory floor in the evening. Hard work but great fun and many a romance began and finished to the background of the peas and strawberries!

    1. I worked in the pea vining shed from 1962 to 1976. I was one of those Irish students from Queens Uni! I remember the dorms and loooong hours. Locals were incredibly warm and will never forget their “morning!” Greeting on the bus that took us to and from the factory.

  6. Hi, i think my great grandfather used to be the manager there? His name was Fred Claxton, married to Margaret who passed away when my grandmother was just 5 years old. They had two girls Tonia an julie. If anyone has any memories or info that would be great. Fred passed away in 1964 age 54

  7. I worked Summer of ’67 at Lockwood’s with a mate, both of us from a small market town in Northern Ireland though there were also 2 or 3 guys from Belfast (we were all referred to as ‘those Irish guys’ LOL). Worked long hours on the broad beans (‘the hopper’ is something I’ll not forget easily!). Production manager was, I think, called Trevor. I remember the ‘canteen’, was about the only time we could socialize. Our ‘digs’ (remember that?) were at a British Legion Hall in Terrington St. Clement, then we’d get a minibus to Long Sutton. On leaving, I got the bus to King’s Lynn, train to The Smoke, then the ‘boat train’ from Euston to Belfast. Such fond memories of those folk, if I hadn’t already been a confirmed AngloPhile, I would have been afterwards!!

    1. Thanks for memories. Let’s hope we get lots of replies. I know we have a few Lockwood watchers. Regards Geoff

    2. Hello jim webb,
      I was working at lockwoods in 1967/8 and we must have worked there at the same time i was THE WELSHMAN.
      And worked outside in what we called THE YARD loading / unloading beans,peas, strawberries everything in all kinds of weathers. I was aged about 18 and just left WALES and ended up working at LOCKWOODS..
      I lodged in a pub in LONG SUTTON called THE WHITE LION run by a mr&mrs macnamara.
      I loved every minute .
      MR G JONES

  8. I used to work for Brian, Jenks Co Ltd who had canned fruits and vegetables packed under the “Peasant Boy” label (initials P.B. were the initials of Philip B. Lockwood) by Lockwoods Foods…this goes back to the late 50’s/60’s/70’s. I knew several people that worked at Lockwoods at that time. They also had a office in London near Piccadilly Circus and I used to go there on business.
    Ihave lived in Australia since 1971

    1. It wasn’t the factory chemist, it was a supervisor called Charlie Foxwell. I remember his products well. I worked there from 1974-79.
      Chris Quirke

    2. Dennis. John McCutcheon here. Just seen your message when looking up Lockwood Foods for memories.
      How are you?


  9. I worked at Lockwoods in 1965 ! Lived in Tydd St Giles,went by bicycel every morning to Tydd St.Mary,put the bike behind a hedge and catch the Lockwoods bus ,comming from Wisbech,Untill I meet Susan Keightley,we worked together at Lockwoods in the laboratory under Mr.Eaton.I meet some very friendly and helpfull people there(as I did’nt spoke any english) Names I can remember are Tony Fetherstone,Joan Ward,Molly Wilford,Jenny Bryant,Pete Withe and Hugh Barton. Enjoyed every minute !!

    1. Hello Heidi, do you remember John Collis? He was my Grandfather, I am putting a lot of information together on family history. I have also had contact with Jim Donald too.

  10. Hello,
    I worked at lockwoods circa 1967/8/9 . I worked as a labourer in what was known as ‘THE YARD’ unloading strawberries , carrots , peas etc i can remember only three peoples names one was a MR BILL SPARKES from sutton bridge other was a MR CHRILLY who was one of the managers and an ex UKRAINIAN POW first name of NESTOR (i think thats howyou it spelt).
    To earn extra wages i also done a bit of nightwatchman duties.


    1. Hello,
      Not sure of the name but possible a john or jack (surname i dont remember) he was in charge of where i and others worked ( outside in what was known as the yard) this person as i recall smoked roll your own cigarettes wore a flat cap and wore glasses and had a bookeeper who helped him. Had sort of red face and podgy nose.
      This was circa 1967/8/9
      Thats about it.

  11. Just like to add after leaving LOCKWOODS went to work for GARNERS GRAIN MERCHANTS, SUTTON BRIDGE for a couple of years before coming back home to WALES.
    can only remember one workmate and his name was i think RODNEY SPARKES who lived in SUTTON BRIDGE.
    hard work but great times they were.

  12. There was a canning factory in Long Sutton before World War 2 as evidenced by this piece from the Lincolnshire Echo of 27 August 1937 (page 9, col 1),

    “WOMAN FLUNG FROM LORRY. How woman was flung from a lorry into a seed field and Injured was described when Cecil James Clark, lorry driver, of Prospect-place, Wisbech, was summoned for failing to report an accident at Holbeach on July 26, failing to keep a current record. of hours worked and driving without supervision while the holder of provisional licence. Clark was driving a lorry conveying women working at Long Sutton canning factory, and swerved across the road into a ditch. He was lined £1 and 7s costs.”

    I have a feeling that the factory may have been originally built by Joseph Farrow & Son Ltd which was formed following the sale of the mustard and ketchup making concern establish by Joseph Farrow and his wife Mary (nee Cragg) to Colman’s of Norwich. The Farrows Marrowfat Peas brand now belongs to Princess Foods I believe. The Farrows are related to me by marriage. The wife of Joseph Farrow Senior and my Gt Gt Grandmother were sisters.

    As surviving members of the Farrow family then living in Peterborough were kind enough to pass on their personal memories of my Great Grandfather William Morton Bailey, born in Whaplode Drove in 1855 Auctioneer and Managing Director of the Peterborough Omnibus & Carriage Company Ltd Horsebus company for the book on the history of Peterborough Tramways published in the early 1970’s, I have tried to return the favour by expanding my family history research into this family.

    Some of that has been picked up by others and expanded upon and a bit about the history of Farrows Peas can be found here http://letslookagain.com/tag/farrows-peas/

    I have this evening stumbled across an obituary of Joseph Farrows’ Juniors wife Mary (nee Cragg) which includes a personal recollection by Sir Richard Winfrey, that answers many questions and adds so much to what I know about the early days of this business which at it’s heyday was a huge national concern.

    This discovery is of such significance that it probably warrants it’s own article – I have bookmarked the contribution by Sir Richard to the Boston Guardian (page 6 Saturday 22 May 1926) and will transcribe it in due course as it has not been transcribed on the British Newspaper Archive website. I will drop you a line when I have completed it (likely will be after 12 December)

  13. I came across this when I was looking for the history of Lockwood Foods. I worked for Mason & Morton who were the agents for Maschinen Fabrik August Herbort in the 1960’s and 70’s. I used to visit the area to companies such as Lockwood Foods, Smedleys, Findus and others. I believe the Chief Engineer at the time of Lockwood Foods was Bill Spenceley. We supplied Herbort Striggers, used to pull the stalks out of fruit such as blackcurrants and cherries. We also supplied pea and bean processing equipment. The only other name I remember was Peter Cronin who was the Chief Engineer of Smedleys.

  14. There were 3 of us — students of Phys Ed in Aberdeen
    We worked during summer holiday 1957 or8
    I packed tins in boxes and took turns on the moving belt
    There were busloads of Italian workers also
    All of us lived in a large empty mansion house
    If the berries came in we worked the longest stretch was 7 am till 2 the following morning ,but we didn’t mind. We didn’t work if it was wet
    Everyone was very kind to us ! Happy memories

  15. Here’s some info about the origins of Lockwoods Foods:
    Philip Lockwood was first an apprentice at Smedleys in Spalding.
    In 1934 he started Eastern Counties Preserves, which became Lockwoods Foods Ltd.
    Philip Lockwood bought the site in Bridge Street, Long Sutton, where he built his first plant.

  16. Hi I am a litter picker in Droitwich, Worcestershire and on clearing a roundabout I have found a Lockwoods Cola can which is most probably 1970’s or early 1980’s as it is a ring pull can . It is in excellent condition and I googled it and found your site. Contact me and I will send some photos if you are interested ? Kind regards Clive

    1. David Spenceley
      David Spenceley My Grandad was Chief Group Engineer for Lockwoods when the family owned it. I seem to remember the Long Sutton site, one in Scotland that mainly did fruit and a site in France where old man Lockwood lived.
      Susan Crocker
      Susan Crocker I was born in Long Sutton. My dad had a large allotment and we use to pick our strawberries and take to Lockwards to sell. My sisters and mum worked there and at Christmas the children (me) went to a party by bus to either Spalding or Boston. 1950s.

      Nigel Robert Burch
      Nigel Robert Burch Now Princes, owned by Mitsubishi. I believe Lockwood’s also had factories in Boston and Wisbech, they were taken over by H L Holdings I think.

      James Hart
      James Hart This place https://goo.gl/maps/iQ413sRfChzNvptv8
      Was Lockwoods, then HL Foods now Princes.

      1. David, I have just read your comments. Do you remember a John Collis? I am trying to put together information about family at the moment.

  17. My name is David Cobbold and I live in Wisbech. In 1972 I worked at what was then the Long Sutton branch of the NatWest bank. I remember two names from Lockwoods – Mr.Sprague – would he have been General Manager? and Mr Tinkler who lived in KL and I think may have been part of the accounts department. I also remember that Mr Philip Lockwood used to travel often to the Continent (Switzerland?) where Lockwoods Foods had a subsidiary company.

    1. Thanks for youR memories. Much appreciated. Do you have any other memories of your time in Long Sutton.

  18. my name is Maria vella maltese i use to work at lock woods canning factory in long sutton and the hostel was in holbeach . i still remember some people one person in particular his name was joswis greco and a another tony they were italian.they lived in stanground peterbrough,i would love to here if they are o.k

  19. My grandfather, Tom Hill, was a painter and decorator and on the second World War painted the roof of the canning factory so that it was camouflaged, presumably from enemy bombing.

  20. I worked as a labourer at lockwoods factory in Carnoustie in 1962 and was offered a place as a management trainee at Long Sutton. I worked there until 1965. I lodged in Sutton Bridge with Mrs Hoole. I remember drinking in the Ship in Long Sutton.

  21. I worked as a Sales Rep for Lockwoods Foods. I started in May ( approximately) 1982 and left in November 1983. I started after the business had been bought by Hillsdown Holdings. Martin Dowthwaite was the MD and I started as part of a young sales team covering the West Midlands. I think my contact in customer services was a lady called Margaret who was always very helpful. I enjoyed my time at Lockwoods. It was the start of a successful career in sales. I retired from selling after 36 years of continuous employment.

    1. Let’s hope you will find some nice connection. Regards Geoff
      I have someone trying to do Smedley’s any suggestions

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