Rex Paterson Collection

Rex Munro Paterson OBE was born in 1902 in London, the son of a clergyman. He attended school at Christ's Hospital School, leaving in 1918 to attend Wye Agricultural College. He left Wye in the same year and went to work on a farm in Kent.
Paterson travelled to Nova Scotia in January 1919 with the idea of attending an agricultural college there. However, instead he started work on a farm in Halifax. He moved on to work on farms in Ontario and Saskatchewan in 1920. He moved to Armstrong, British Columbia in June 1920, where he bought an 80 acre dairy farm, with his cousin Capt. Kenneth Russell Napier, and a retail milk round. Agricultural prices fell in 1921, and with labour and land costs rising he returned to England in 1924.
On his return he worked on the same farm in Kent as he had previously, where he met his first wife Muriel, a dairy maid, who died in 1944. In 1927 he moved to a farm in Winchester. He set up on his own later that year, renting an 80 acre farm and getting married. He added another 80 acres in the following year and acquired cows and milked using a hosier bail system. This was a small cowshed on wheels, without a floor, placed in the field. The waiting cows were held in a temporary corral, while 6 cows in 6 stall were fed and milked by a machine powered by a portable generator. He left this farm in 1929, having made a profit and bought a 400 acre farm in Wiltshire, again he made a profit enabling him to buy 300 more acres and a second milking bail. He abandoned trials with fixed milking bails and sheep, but did move into arable. Rex Paterson (Farms) Ltd was founded in 1954.
In 1937 he expanded into Sussex and Basingstoke, by 1942 he had added more than 10 000 acres to his empire. He had farms in Hatch Warren, Kingsclere, Micheldever, Stockbridge and Alresford. He split his farms into units that were big enough to be managed by one man (a sub manager or foreman) under the control of a general manager who was responsible for a group of farms. He picked his general managers from men who had worked their way up from the bottom in farming and believed that men worked best when they were able to use their own judgement and initiative. Each farm worked independently, except for buying and selling which had to be approved by Paterson. The farms kept records that were then analysed by Paterson and his team of office managers. These were then used to foster a spirit of competition between farms in order to make them more productive. He died in 1978.

More information

  • A full description is available on online database

  • Reference number: FR PAT

Farming Paterson

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