Mr George Paul captivated the Ipswich Society audience on 12 February in recounting the history of the family from its l8th century origins in Lincolnshire to its present status. This was a very enterprising family who managed to establish a variety of businesses before settling into a longish period when they developed into a major player as maltsters and animal feed suppliers.
We were of course taken through the technology of malting which during the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries was an extremely labour intensive industry with the malting processes carried out in low ceilinged buildings - which one day would prove difficult to convert to other uses. In the second half of the 20th century new processes requiring vertical buildings came in. While the family malting and animal feed business was the mainstay of the operation, the acquisition of land was never forgotten with the Paul's becoming major landowners, and NIT Paul is still based on his estate in Freston. The Paul family is widely distributed throughout the country.
Paul's became Paul's and White's in the mid-20th century and with the acquisition of numerous smaller companies became the fourth biggest firm in the UK industry with maltings distributed over the whole country. The company also developed as a Major force in animal feed. Having, become a public company, Paul's were taken over by Harrison and Gossfield, a huge international trading organisation. George Paul became a director of the new group, finishing as Chief Executive. Harrison and Gossfield then embarked on a policy of concentrating on very few chemical products much to Mr Paul's despair. This policy got them into trouble and during the disposal of the many subsidiaries, George Paul managed to facilitate a management buy-out for the original Paul's malting operation, which now operates as BOCM Paul's Ltd with its head office in Key Street. The circle has therefore been completed and he is now Chairman of an independent locally based malting and animal feed operation which has been able to buy out its principal Irish-based competitor.
The Paul family has included a number of major public benefactors. The various Paul's tenements in Ipswich are well known. Less known is the gift to the town of the land which became Bourne Park.
In my role as Heritage Open Days Co-ordinator, I asked Mr Paul whether the Society might include again the beautifully restored medieval warehouse, now a Visitor and Training Centre, to which he readily agreed. This was a fascinating evening for some 70-80 members who were happy to keep questions going for all the time available.