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Walk will explore the industrial heritage of Norwich

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 August 2014

chamberlins guildhall hill c 1900

chamberlins guildhall hill c 1900

Norwich’s industrial history and the legacy of Colman’s are set to be explored in a special heritage walk through Norwich.

Industry facts

• Boot and shoe manufacturing – boot and shoe manufacturing took the place of weaving as the city’s most important industry. Huge shoe factories were built, including Howlett and White’s (known for its Norvic brand) in St George’s Plain, which claimed to be the largest in the UK.

• Brewing - In 1839 there were 19 brewers in Norwich, including some who were later to dominate the industry, such as Bullards, Youngs, Crawshays and Steward & Patteson. Bullard’s Anchor Brewery on Westwick Street/Coslany Street was a major industrial complex which by 1877 employed 300 men and produced 140,000 barrels annually.

• Drapers – By late 19th century Norwich had a profusion of drapers shops, including names like Bond and Curl Brothers, that would develop into large department stores. Today Bond and Curl Brothers are the Norwich branches of John Lewis and Debenhams respectively. Others like Chamberlins developed an extensive mail order business and their own factories. Garlands, of London Street, started as a drapers in 1862, but by the mid-1920s was a huge store with 27 departments.

• Mustard - The history of the iconic Colman’s mustard brand dates back to 1814 when Jeremiah Colman, a flour miller, took over a mustard manufacturing business at Stoke Holy Cross. In 1823 Jeremiah and his adopted nephew James established J&J Colman. Best known for mustard, the company also made flour, starch, laundry blue and cornflour. James’ son Jeremiah James Colman later took over the company which moved to its present location at Carrow, Norwich.

As part of Colman’s Mustard Shop and Museum’s celebrations of 200 years of Colman’s in the city, author Nick Williams has organised a walking tour putting a spotlight on many of the industries that have prospered in Norwich.

Drapers, boot and shoe manufacturing, brewing and weaving are among the industries that will feature in the event which will also look at the impact of the Colman’s mustard business on Norwich.

Mr Williams, author of Norwich: City of Industries, said: “People tend to forget that Norwich was an industrial city... it has been home to industries ranging from textiles to engineering to food production.

“It was very much a place that made things and it is important that people remember that.”

About the walk, he said: “The idea is to try and show people a bit of the city’s industrial heritage and encourage them to look around, and particularly to look above ground level, when they are in the city.

“For example, if you look up on Guildhall Hill you will see the splendour of the old Chamberlins department store rather than just the modern day shop windows.”

The walking tour will finish at Colman’s Mustard Shop and Museum, owned by Norwich’s Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust (HEART), with a talk on the history of the firm from retail business manager Nick Cook.

Among the many other events taking places this year to celebrate Colman’s 200th anniversary are an exhibition on the history of Colman’s at the Forum from November 12 to 22, the launch of a new limited edition whisky in partnership with the English Whisky Company, and a mustard murder mystery.

For more about future events visit

The industrial heritage walk is on Thursday, August 21 at 3pm. Tickets, which must be booked in advance, cost £5. To book a place call 01603 627889 or visit Colman’s Mustard Shop and Museum in the Royal Arcade.

Are you organising a heritage 
arts project in Norwich? Email 
arts correspondent Emma 
Knights at

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