Award winning founder of Pendle based business that became world famous dies days before his 85th birthday

The founder of one of Pendle's most prominent businesses died this week, just days before his 85th birthday.

By Edward Lee
Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 12:30 pm
Philip and Dorothy McIvor arrive at Buckingham Palace following the award of an MBE in 2016
Philip and Dorothy McIvor arrive at Buckingham Palace following the award of an MBE in 2016

Philip McIvor and his wife, Dorothy, literally turned a farmhouse business into one of the leading names in biscuit manufacturing, their products sold in some of the most famous names of retailing both nationally and around the world.

Farmhouse Biscuits started life at the couple's Barrowford home.

As time marched on and the business flourished more space was needed and eventually it was time to move from the farm. In 1978 relocation to bigger premises in Nelson was necessary. Despite the new setting the desire to retain traditional baking methods remained and the business continued to grow.

Christopher Biggins with Lancastrian of the Year Philip McIvor and his wife Dorothy at the BIBAs at Blackpool Tower Ballroom in February 2012

Now the business, which started in a small kitchen, operates from a 200,000 square foot facility and employs up to 300 people supplying biscuits to a variety of customers and countries.

The company he founded in 1973 issued a statement on Monday which read: "It is with deep sorrow that we announce the passing of our owner and founder, Mr Philip McIvor who would have celebrated his 85th Birthday this week.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

"Through sheer hard work and determination Philip and his lovely wife Dorothy created an amazing company that produces some of the most wonderful biscuits.

"It was always a pleasure to work for such a warm, humble, caring and gentle man who was inspirational to so many for many different reasons. We will miss him so very, very much.

"Rest in peace and fly high Mr Mac. We will never forget you and the world will always thank you for your Oat Flips."

Away from the factory floor, Mr McIvor was never afraid of sharing his considerable business acumen and experience.

As a prominent member of both the Pendle Enterprise Trust and the Pendle Vision Board he helped many fledging companies get their feet off the ground and also saw many others realise their true potential.

Both the success of his company and his willingness to support others earned Mr McIvor several awards.

Most notably he was made an MBE in the 2016.

And In 2012 he was named as Lancastrian of the Year at the annual BIBA Awards.

Throughout his life he was deeply involved in local politics, leading Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson to pay the following tribute: "I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Philip McIvor.

"Philip and his wife Dorothy are best known locally for establishing Farmhouse Biscuits, an enterprise which grew from baking a few biscuits at home and selling them on a market stall, to one of the UK’s biggest independent biscuit manufacturers, supplying the likes of Harrods, Fortnum and Mason’s and Buckingham Palace, as well as exporting tons of biscuits around the world.

"Philip's contribution to our area was recognised by HM the Queen, when he was made an MBE in 2016.

"Philip was for many years the President of Pendle Conservative Association and will be sorely missed by local councillors, members, and volunteers. He only stood down from this role in March 2019, when his deteriorating health meant he felt it was time to pass the baton on.

"When I was first selected as the Conservative Candidate for Pendle 15 years ago, Philip’s support and advice was invaluable. Philip took time out of his busy schedule to show me around the bakery in Nelson and introduce me to other local business owners. He took time to explain how this incredible family business had taken shape and how through his involvement in groups like the Pendle Vision Board he was passionate about supporting other local businesses.

"Over the years George Osborne, Michael Gove, Priti Patel and Boris Johnson all visited Farmhouse Biscuits – donning hairnets to find out about the business’s incredible success.

"At the same time as banging the drum for local business Philip went about quietly supporting dozens of local charities and groups across Pendle. I lost track of the number of charity events I attended which Farmhouse Biscuits had supported, often behind the scenes without seeking any recognition or publicity.

"My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Dorothy, his family and friends. Philip was a true gentleman, who would go out of his way to help others and I will always miss his advice and friendship."