The Sturgeon farming family of South Ockendon and Grays developed a prized flock of sheep which were exported to Australia and other Colonies during the late 19th and early 20th century.
The flock were direct blood stock of the pure Negetti type, bred without stain from the Royal flock, imported from Spain in 1791 by King George III (Farmer George). On his death the King's flock were purchased by Mr. TB Sturgeon of South Ockendon & Grays and he and his sons later on continued to pure bred the flock.
In an Photographic advert probably of late 19th century date, Sturgeon & Sons of Grays quote the following qualities of their sheep:
"The effect of climate, food, and judgement in selecting suitable sires for each ewe has been that the sheep have increased in size, improved in form, and are now covered from nose to hoof with fleeces of the thickest and finest wool to be found on any sheep, while their deep well sprung ribs, and good short legs, give unmistakable proof of their sound constitution - a point of the greatest importance in every animal which has to get its living on a scanty pasturage in a hot climate."
It continues to expound the qualities of the Rams:
"The progeny of the Sturgeon Ram is found to do well in all hot countries, their thick fleece enabling them to resist sun better than wet. One great feature in this flock is the strength and evenness of the wool"
It appears that the sheep from this flock had already been exported to Australia and other colonies, while a recent report of an exported Ram by Messers. Alport & Co. had been highly spoken of in the 'Cape Papers' and bears a most favourable comparison with other sheep imported from France.
The Sturgeon & Sons advert continues to remind potential purchasers of the ease of getting to Grays:
"Gray's is under an hour's journey by rail from Fenchurch Street Station on the London and Tilbury Line, and Messrs. Sturgeon are always pleased to show their sheep to any visitor, but it is advisable to give them a day or two's notice to ensure being met by one of the firm."
- Thurrock Museum Picture Postcard Collection