THE highly successful premium paint and wallpaper company Farrow & Ball is one of a handful of Dorset brands recognised around the world. It has been in business for over 70 years and has a past as rich and colourful as its iconic palette of 132 paints.

"Often renowned for characterful paint names such as Elephant's Breath and Dead Salmon, Farrow & Ball today celebrates its local roots with homegrown colours like Dorset Cream, Lulworth Blue and Wimborne White. It all started with a passion for making paint to original formulations, using only the finest ingredients and age-old methods. A passion that is matched by its Dorset-based craftsmen today," said Lisa Barry from Farrow & Ball.

The company was founded in 1946 by John Farrow, a trained chemist who worked for Ireland's Agnew Paints during World War Two, and his business partner, Richard Ball, an engineer who survived capture as a prisoner of war.

They met at a clay pit in Dorset in the 1940s and together built their first paint factory on the remains of the Manor Brickworks on Black Hill in Verwood. The pair went on to supply paint for the Ford Motor Company, Raleigh Bicycles, the Admiralty and also the War Office.

Richard Ball sold his interest in the company in 1960 and John Farrow left the company three years later.

The company joined the Stevinson Hardy group and in the November 1963, Norman Chappell, who joined the company in 1954, after seven years studying law, and was company secretary and a director, was appointed managing director.

In 1967 a devastating fire destroyed much of the original Verwood factory.

"Forty firemen in seven appliances from Hampshire and Dorset brigades fought a fierce blaze at the Verwood paint factory. It could be seen for miles and hundreds of people turned out to watch the firemen. The heat was so intense that a hole was burnt through the corrugated iron roof and the girders and roofing was twisted and buckled out of shape. Large quantities of raw materials and plants were damaged," reported the Echo at the time.

Farrow & Ball then moved to its current home on the Uddens Estate near Wimborne.

At a time when many paint makers began creating acrylic paints with fewer pigments and with added plastics, Farrow & Ball upheld its original recipes and traditional methods. They continued to make the richly pigmented colours that it is renowned for and proudly retained its original identity.

Twenty years later the company underwent its next significant change when Tom Helme, an adviser on historic interiors, and Marton Ephson, a corporate financier, took the helm in 1992. Under their leadership Farrow & Ball began to really grow, with a particular focus on supporting heritage buildings and restoring these properties with a colour palette that was sympathetic to their era.

The company appointed its first independent stockist in 1994 and by the following year Farrow & Ball began crafting artisanal wallpapers using traditional block and trough printing methods and using Farrow & Ball paints.

In 1996 the first flagship showroom opened on the Fulham Road in Chelsea and two years later the first overseas showrooms opened in Toronto, Paris and New York.Within five years, the company had a total of 12 showrooms throughout the UK, North America and Europe. This year Farrow & Ball stepped into the digital world by launching its own website.

"As the western world has developed, people are increasingly either wanting premium added value products in some form or they're wanting value," said Don Henshall who became Farrow & Ball CEO in 2010.

At the end of 2014, the company was acquired for £275 million by a fund managed by private equity group of Ares Management LP.

The turnover of Farrow & Ball has grown from £32 million to £72 million in the last five years, and the increase is set to continue.

Today, the unique Farrow & Ball look can be seen in modern and traditional homes, large and small, inside and and out with a depth of colour that can't be matched.

Over the last seven decades, Farrow & Ball has grown from a post-war business specialising in commercial contracts to an international maker of highly pigmented paint and handcrafted wallpaper. Even with 55 showrooms worldwide and a global network of stockists covering 67 markets, Farrow & Ball has never forgotten its Dorset roots.