Henry Palethorpe was a butcher in Birmingham in the 1850s. He became concerned about the increasing amounts of cheap bacon and pork being imported from the USA, and decided to set up his own company to produce meat products, specialising in sausages.
The business grew rapidly and in 1896 Palethorpes established a factory at Dudley Port, Tipton which employed over 600 people. The factory produced sausages, pork pies, hams, bacon and other meat products. At this time the company was claiming to be the largest sausage maker in the world.
Palethorpes’ Royal Cambridge sausages were the premier brand, and 2,500 lbs of them were aboard the Titanic when she sailed on her maiden voyage in 1912.
During the First World War, Palethorpes supplied canned meat products to the British Army.
In the 1950s Palethorpes’ significant market share began to decline. By the 1960s, with the development of supermarkets in the UK, the company was experiencing additional pressure. In 1967 the firm constructed a purpose built factory in Market Drayton. This resulted in the closure of the Dudley Port factory in 1968, after which it was demolished and the site redeveloped for housing.
The high cost of building the new factory caused Palethorpes severe financial problems and in 1969 the business was taken over by the Bibby Agricultural Group.
In 1991 Palethorpes became a part of Northern Foods. In 2005 Northern Foods merged the company with Pork Farms and Bowyers to form Pork Farm Bowyers. Now rebranded as Pork Farm Palethorpes, the Market Drayton factory currently employs 700 people and the company supplies meat products to retailers to be sold under their own brand names.