FORDINGBRIDGE Museum is calling on the community to get in touch if they have any information or artefacts relating to the Neave family.

The museum says the family lived in the town for generations and were important employers as well as being pillars of Fordingbridge society, acting as magistrates and playing a leading role in local events and institutions.

In 1792 the Neave family were dealers in wool. They later expanded the family business by milling cereal at their Bicton and Town Mills and selling the farinaceous food which made their name and fortune.

Neaves farinaceous food was flour based and was sold in airtight tins for one shilling. It was marketed as a nutritious food for infants and growing children but was also aimed at invalids, nursing mothers, aged persons and as a cure for dyspepsia and indigestion.

The food was packaged in a factory that is still to be seen, now used by Corintech, behind The Railway Hotel pub.

The factory was located to take advantage of the nearby railway station which opened in 1866. This meant that Neaves Food could be transported all over the world.

Museum manager Jane Ireland said: “We are keen to put on an exhibition about the Neaves but at the moment have little information and few artefacts about this important local family.

“We are hoping that there may be someone out there who has connections to the Neaves or people who worked for them or might have some artefacts relating to them and their products. We would be most grateful for any help from the public to assist us with this project.”

Anyone who can assist Fordingbridge Museum get in touch by calling 01425 657850 or 654322.

n A ceremonial staff that was found 28 years ago on a rubbish tip was donated to Fordingbridge Museum and last month the museum were looking to find out more about the mystery artefact.

It was found in 1991 by Poole resident Hugh Molver.

The staff is made of wood and is just under six feet tall and has a round ball shape on the top.The ball appears to have been covered in gold leaf and has a red band round the middle on which is written in black lettering, “Hundred of Fordingbridge”.

Below the ball is a corroded metal collar which could be made of copper, which is decorated with an ornate organic design. The body of the staff may have once been painted red.