Bartholomews is proud to be a family owned company with a heritage of over 130 years in agriculture. Our foundations were built on animal feed, ranging from livestock to equine and bird seed mixes. Today, the company has expanded into the arable sector offering a range of farm inputs alongside exporting grain to domestic, European and world markets.
Covering the South of England our main business of supplying inputs & marketing grain is supported by a comprehensive advice service offering you guidance and support for all your farming needs.
Our aim is to develop long term business partnerships with our customers delivering the best possible product range in the market place, at the least possible cost and with our in-house haulage department, Churchill Freight, we can guarantee logistic support for deliveries and collections.
Our successful ethos extends throughout the company from head office at Chichester to our offices at Fisherton Farm, Warminister and Golden Cross, Hailsham. We also have Grain storage for over 38 thousand tonnes at Shoreham Port, Brighton and our own deep water fertiliser blending facility at Southampton docks, Ultimate Fertilizers.
Bartholomew's Company History...
Bartholomews was established in 1883 by John Woods Bartholomew, based from premises at Number 12 North Street, Chichester. John predominately traded in the sale of forage for horses, buying oats, hay and straw from local farmers to sell on to the many stables which serviced the local population. He also traded in malt and hops for home brewing, a thriving industry during this period.
In 1903 John’s brother, James Edward Bartholomew joined the company, after training as a Banker at Capital & Counties Bank, Chichester then the Standard Bank, South Africa. James took responsibility for the accountancy of the business and establishing relationships with corn merchants & grocers along the South Coast.
After the Great War (1914-1918) the use of mechanical transport grew and while this reduced the local market for forage, the ability to deliver products over a much larger area opened up new opportunities. JW Bartholomews & Sons were able to expand their trading area and started to extend their product range to include garden seeds, seed corn and animal feeding stuffs. This, combined with John’s sons John Cyril and Alan joining the company at the time, led to the business undergoing steady growth.
An additional premise at Northgate in Chichester was acquired. Feed processing, seed cleaning and grain drying machinery were installed in the building but this site soon became insufficient to keep up with the growing business demands.
Moving to Portfield...
In 1940, since his return home from the Great War, John Cyril Bartholomew was instrumental in the construction of a new feed mill and office at Portfield, where the companies head office remains today. The new site out of town, alongside the railway allowed room for expansion and raw materials to be sourced and transported by train, securing access to the highest quality raw materials. In 1943 John Cyril returned to the second front as an ordinary seaman until Christmas 1944, at which point Bartholomews became a limited company under his guidance. Soon afterwards Levetts & Brown of Brighton and Witt-Mann’s of Midhurst were incorporated into the Bartholomews Group.
Post the Second World War, the government passed the Agricultural Act of 1947, leading to substantial investment in agriculture. This resulted in significant increases in the area of arable land that was farmed and also accelerated the mechanisation of farming methods. Increasing demand for inputs led to a dedicated seed warehouse for cleaning and dressing to be constructed in 1950 at Portfield and the establishment of a close working relationship between Bartholomews, Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) and Plant Protection Ltd to pioneer some of the early seed dressings. A Ministry of Agriculture certified Seed Testing Laboratory followed in 1954.
Huge advancements in agricultural science were also being made at the time, with the development of complete fertiliser, replacing sole use of farm yard manure and an improved range of agrochemicals on the market. These advancements resulted in significant increase in yield, the Company became agents for ICI and Fisons Ltd establishing a fertiliser store and agrochemical department at Portfield. John Cyril died in December 1968, leaving his son Jack to become Managing Director of Bartholomews (Chichester) Ltd and in 1969, became Chairman of the Group.
Always keen to ensure independent substantiated advice, Bartholomews set up trial plots in 1979 to understand and compare the performance of seed varieties and crop protection products under local conditions. These trials continue to the present day, with the June open days a favourite event in the regional farming calendar.
Following the incorporation of Levetts of Brighton into the Bartholomews Group in the 1940’s, their premises changed twice before settling at the current location at Golden Cross, near Hailsham. Now renamed under the Bartholomews banner, the depot offers a local service to farmers into East Sussex & Kent.
With Britain’s accession to the Common Market in 1973, viable opportunities for the marketing of grain to Europe were realised. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, the importance of these export markets to farmers in the south of England grew, as local feed mills were not able to absorb the increasing volumes of cereal outputs being produced in this region.
The need for a specialist marketing and grain storage facility suitable to serve the increasing export market was realised, with the purchase of port facilities in 2004, now know as Shoreham Silo Services, under the guidance of current Managing Director, Gary Herman. In 2012, an additional 41,000sqf state of the art storage shed was built to complement the existing facility, which now handles more than 200,000 tonnes each year.
In 1995 the Company formed Churchill Bulk Services, a haulage business established to facilitate the increasing volumes of grain being marketed. Churchill Bulk Services creation complimented the pre-existing in house logistics company, MW Sadler, who were responsible for pallet and bag logistics up until 2001, when the two companies merged to form Churchill Freight Services.
Rationalisation within the fertiliser sector was having an increasing detrimental impact on the quality of supply the business could maintain to its customers. The decision was made to establish our own fertiliser importing and blending facility, with the creation of Ultimate Fertilizers in 2013, based at Southampton docks. The additional resource allowed the company to import world class raw materials ensuring we still continued to adhere to Bartholomews philosophy of sourcing high quality ingredients.
More recently the establishment of an office at Fisherton Manor, Warminster in April 2015 has broadened the companies’ service into the south west counties, allowing us to offer a more local serve to key customers in the area.
Bartholomews have continued to always rise to the challenges and opportunities presented by the agricultural markets, we will continue to invest in areas that are vital to enhance our level of service, ensuring customers receive value for money across all departments. Our immediate challenge is to understand what impact Brexit will have for our customers, and we are working hard to ensure that we maximise the opportunities that will inevitably come out of the process.