Small Beginnings...

The Duffield family can be traced back seven generations to Henry Duffield who was born in Tharston, Norfolk in 1756. Through the generations, the Duffields have always appeared on the census as skilled workers; farmers, lime burners, carpenters and millers.

The founder of Duffields, William Lant Duffield, was son of William Gallant Duffield and Sarah Ann Lant. He was born on 26 January 1869 in Tasburgh, Norfolk. He appeared in the census on 5 April 1891 in Mulbarton, Norfolk - Occupation: Miller; lodger in the household of William Lake.

He married Florence Rachel Fuller in 1893 and later appeared in the census on 31 March 1901 in Tasburgh - Occupation: Flour Miller & Farmer; employing one live-in domestic servant. He then appeared in the census on 2 April 1911 in Tasburgh - Occupation: Corn And Flour Miller And Farmer. He died on 30 May 1962 in Long Stratton, Norfolk.

1890

William Lant Duffield, founder of Duffields, was an apprentice at Tasburgh Water Mill, Norfolk, before leasing Black Tower Mill in Mattishall, Norfolk. The windmill developed 20 horse power and drove two pairs of stones. All deliveries were made by horse and cart by just two employees.

1895

William Charles Duffield was born on 13th November 1895 in Mattishall, Norfolk (1895-1984).

Small Beginnings...

1896

William Lant Duffield can be seen standing in the loading doorway of Black Tower Mill. His wife Florence is on the balcony and son William Charles Duffield and daughter Rachael are in the pram; milling started early for the future Chairman.

William Lant Duffield left Mattishall and leased Tasburgh Mill in Norfolk to begin grinding flour. Tasburgh was originally a paper mill but in 1896 it became Duffield's first roller mill. It had an auxiliary steam engine and produced two sacks of wheat flour per hour. A year later, he leased Flordon Mill, Norfolk.

1906

William Lant Duffield leased Saxlingham Thorpe Mill, Norfolk, after his purchase offer was rejected by the owner. The site had a water mill which was driven by the River Tas.

1909

William Lant Duffield leased Topcroft Mill, Norfolk.

Through Tough Times...

The Saxlingham Thorpe Mill site was vulnerable to the threat of flooding from the River Tas. The first major flood was in 1912.

World War I broke out in 1914. During the war Duffields had a reduced workforce but the family remained in business during those challenging times.

1912

Disaster struck in 1912 when Saxlingham Thorpe Mill was badly flooded. The boiler was immersed in flood waters and disputes over payment of repairs went unresolved with the landlord.

1914-1919 World War I

Throughout World War I, William Charles Duffield served overseas in Egypt and Palestine returning home with dysentery and wanderlust. Younger brother Harry Duffield, who was too young to enlist, ran Tharston Mill assisted by his sister Rachael who maintained the books.

Through Tough Times...

1915-1917

William Lant Duffield left Tasburgh Mill in 1915. A year later he was declared bankrupt and left Flordon and Saxlingham Thorpe Mills. In 1917 he leased Tharston Mill.

1924

Having run a mill for five years in Cape Town, South Africa, William Charles Duffield returned to Norfolk and leased Buxton Mill, Norfolk. He remodelled the mill to increase production and began to manufacture flour.

1928

Mr Hugh Anthony Duffield (Tony) was born. William Lant Duffield re-leased Saxlingham Thorpe Mill.

Rising Steadily...

The farming community in the UK was significantly affected by the Great Depression of the 1930s. The depression followed the Wall Street crash of 1929 in America. Even during this severe worldwide economic depression, the Duffield's business continued to consolidate, increasing its productivity at existing mills and acquiring further strategic locations.

1931

William Charles Duffield remodelled Buxton Mill and redesigned the power distribution. One year later, the Government unveiled The Wheat Act (1932) which abolished duty on wheat grown in the UK. William Charles Duffield prepared for an increase in trade by expanding storage capacity at Buxton Mill.

1936

W L Duffield & Sons Ltd was incorporated. In the same year the company purchased Saxlingham Thorpe Mill, Norfolk, for £1,100.

Rising Steadily...

1939

As World War II broke out, Duffields received a government telegram advising that all grain stock would be retained under government control from midnight 1 September 1939.

1940

Production of animal compound feed began at Saxlingham Thorpe Mill.

1942

Saxlingham Thorpe flour mill was closed down on grounds of hygiene. It re-opened in 1970. Animal compound feed remained in production at Saxlingham Thorpe Mill.

Time to Expand...

Following the end of World War II in 1945, Duffields started to expand by increasing their property portfolio. This included the purchase of a mixed farm (livestock and arable) together with the family home, Lamas Rectory, which remains in the family to this day.

1950

Tony Duffield became the tenant of 176 acres at Hautbois Hall Farms, Norfolk. This mixed farm is still in operation today.

1951

William Charles Duffield remodelled and doubled capacity at Buxton flour mill.

1952

Lamas Rectory and 46 acres of glebeland adjacent to the farm were purchased. Around this time, Tharston Mill was purchased and doubled its capacity. Meanwhile, Saxlingham Thorpe Mill, now producing animal feed in bulk quantities, had its first weighbridge installed.

1960

Duffields built a warehouse at Buxton Mill, Norfolk.

Time to Expand...

1962

The Duffield Group was formed with Duffield Mills Ltd as the holding company. Many family members were involved and held various positions within the company. That same year, Duffields also purchased Buxton flour mill.

1963

Duffields purchased a further 120 acres of land next to Hautbois Hall Farm taking their total acreage of farmland to 375 acres.

1964

Buxton Mill doubled its flour capacity to produce 10 sacks of wheat flour per hour.

1965

Saxlingham Thorpe Mill doubled its animal feed capacity.

From Adversity to Opportunity...

1968

In 1968, a low pressure system across the south east of England brought exceptional heavy rain and thunderstorms. On 16 September 1968, the whole of the River Tas valley flooded. Saxlingham Thorpe Mill suffered over £10,000 worth of damage.

Anglia Water Authority took action to prevent future flooding by realigning the river course on both sides of the new road bridge. This provided an opportunity for Duffields to fill in the original watercourse through Saxlingham Thorpe Mill as the river was no longer required to power the mill.

Modernisation & Expansion...

1970

Hugh Anthony Duffield (known as Tony) took over as General Manager and laid the foundations for rapid growth of the business. In a move to improve efficiency and communication, the Duffield family made the difficult decision to close Buxton and Tharston Mills to concentrate on one strategic site at Saxlingham Thorpe Mill.

During 1970, an investment program of £640,000 began at Saxlingham Thorpe Mill. The business provided a huge boost to the local economy as it now required thousands of tonnes of wheat from suppliers.

The site employed 109 people and was producing both flour and animal feed. At the height of its flour production, Duffields was sourcing material for major brands including Huntley & Palmers, Jacobs, Mars, Rowntree Mackintosh, Cadbury's, Heinz and Beechams.

Animal feed production increased with the installation of a new grinder and filters which produced 24 tonnes of feed per hour. Saxlingham Thorpe Mill was dramatically enlarged and the original watermill was forever hidden by the new large cladded structure which is in place today. The original water wheel was removed in 1972

1980

During the summer of 1980 ten new grain silos were erected on the site of the old filled-in waterway at a cost of £370,000. These silos had a total storage capacity of over 5,000 tonnes. Six silos held 680 tonnes each and the other four 250 tonnes.

Ringing The Changes...

On 1 March 1991, Duffields announced it would cease flour milling after 101 years of production to concentrate solely on animal feed. This led to a full restructure of the company. Many employees were found alternative roles within the business or given assistance in finding other employment.

1992

Duffields bought Baxter's Mill, Horsford. The company also set up the Pig Partnership scheme which had a total of 2,800 sows at more than a dozen sites across Norfolk.

1997

In April 1997, Duffields invested £2.5million to expand Saxlingham Thorpe Mill. The new buildings were opened by cook and television presenter Delia Smith.

In August 1997 Duffields purchased Cubitt & Walker Ltd, North Walsham, who had been trading for 127 years.

1998

Tony Duffield's younger son Alistair Duffield took over as Managing Director, aged 28. The great grandson of founder William Lant Duffield, Alistair had to oversee the re-organisation of the Duffield Group. This included the consolidation of a blending plant at Redgrave and Cubitt & Walker in North Walsham to one single site at Saxlingham Thorpe. The Pig Partnership was disbanded and agricultural contractors assisted at Hautbois Hall Farm.

Ringing The Changes...

2004

With the diminishing dairy herding in East Anglia, the company decided to look further afield for customers whilst ensuring business viability. Duffields acquired Pen Mill Feeds Ltd at Yeovil, Somerset, now known as Duffields (South West) Ltd. This area of the country had high numbers of livestock and was the first expansion of Duffields outside of East Anglia.

2009

In August 2009, Duffields acquired the feed business of Grain Harvesters Ltd based at Wingham, Kent. This helped Duffields meet the demand from customers outside of normal operating areas.

2010

Duffields acquired Keepers Choice Game Feed business and brand.

Today

Duffields is one of the UK's leading animal feed manufacturers producing approximately 250,000 tonnes of feed each year. Based over five sites across the UK, Duffields has 120 employees and a fleet of 32 lorries. Today's business is focused on producing feeds for the pig, poultry, cattle, sheep, game and specialist feed sectors.

All feed at Duffields is UFAS (Universal Feed Assurance Scheme) approved which means it meets the highest standards expected by customers.

Duffields is extremely proud of its reputation as a first-class employer. With a team of 120 employees, the company has an impressive long-service record with its staff. In the Duffields group there are six father and son employees, two sets of brothers, two husband and wife couples and one father and son-in-law.

The future

Alistair Duffield has three children; Florence, Frederick and Edith meaning the Duffields Group has the potential to remain a family-run business for generations to come.