Our History


Established in 1844, Elsoms has remained an independent family owned business throughout its history, based in Spalding, Lincolnshire.

In 1844, staunch Methodist, Isaac Elsom, established a rope and twine making business in Spalding. By 1885 the company was also selling seed and in 1914 the first trials ground was established alongside its existing nursery and market garden business situated on the site of the modern day plant breeding station. During the 1920’s and 30’s, under the guidance of George and Bert Elsom, the company’s seed business continued to grow, expanding from vegetables and flowers into cereals and forage crops with customers and suppliers now spread across the country and abroad.

Following the loss in action of Tom Elsom at the Battle of El Alamein in 1942, George and Bert Elsom invited John Keeling to join the business as an equal partner. John was Managing Director of Hurst and Son, the leading seed wholesaler, and brought with him a wealth of experience in the seed business when he joined the business in 1943.

Following the death of George Elsom in 1957, John Keeling took over as Chairman and Managing Director of the company. Under John’s leadership Elsoms expanded and developed, evolving from traditional seed merchant to that of a major plant breeding business. After gaining experience with French and American plant breeding companies and a spell at the Plant Breeding Institute in Cambridge, John’s son Anthony joined the company in 1965, becoming Managing Director in 1974.

Elsoms continued to develop its reputation as a successful independent plant breeding business during the last quarter of the 20th century and in 2009 a new era commenced when Roger Keeling took over from his father, Anthony, as Chairman. Anthony remains involved in the business as Vice Chairman, while Robin Wood was invited to join the company in 2009 as Managing Director, bringing with him a wealth of experience in the vegetable seed industry.

Elsoms Catalogue 1945

Elsoms Catalogue 1945