The city within a city: Memories of life at Carrow Works

Now that’s what you call a social club. Colman House opened 60 years ago.

Now that’s what you call a social club. Colman House opened 60 years ago. - Credit: Archant

It wasn’t just a place to work…it was a way of life and one which generations of men and women lived and loved for so many years.

How times have changed. Factories in Norwich and across Norfolk have gone and today many people are working from home.

Also gone is the friendship and common interests shared by the men and women who produced a large range of goods which, at one time, were sent across the world.

One place where people were proud to work, and where many spent their entire careers, was Colman’s, at the self-contained “industrial city” which was Carrow Works.

Timothy Colman and Mr W J F Wordingham officiate at the handing over to Carrow Yacht Club

Timothy Colman and Mr W J F Wordingham officiate at the handing over to Carrow Yacht Club of its new Enterprise dinghies in 1960/1. - Credit: Archant Library

For thousands of people, since the 1860s, this was their second home…and Colman’s looked after their workforce and their welfare.

The winners of the departmental indoor bowls competition from the 1963 works magazine.

Colman House. The winners of the departmental indoor bowls competition from the 1963 works magazine. With Mr A N Clark who presented the cups. Standing: W Havers, G Hare, H Frosdick and H Hardingham. Seated: A Turner, A N Clark and T Hare. - Credit: Archant Library

Monday night was badminton night for Colman workers in the 1960s.

Monday night was badminton night for Colman workers in the 1960s. At this session we have: left to right: A Fasler, R Douglas, Mrs J Smart, R Watt, Miss J Hearn, R Douglas, Mrs J Stuart, R Watt, Miss J Hearn. B Barbour, Miss A Coleman, A Dye, Miss B Fox, Miss J King, J Sabberton, Miss M Oakes and I Brown. - Credit: Archant Library

They were part of the “Colman family” – they had their own school, the first female industrial nurse in the land, Phillipa Flowerday, cut-price meals, houses and much more.

In 1868 they sold 10,000 pints of tea and coffee and 14,000 dinners to their staff….and that was just the start.

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A Works Council was also established where bosses and workers actually sat down together and exchanged views.

The Engineers and Research Department teams before playing a cricket match in the 1960s

The Engineers and Research Department teams before playing a cricket match in the 1960s when Colman’s had two teams. - Credit: Archant Library

Miss  C Easter (centre) from the Stores Department, who was the Carrow Queen with other contestants

Miss C Easter (centre) from the Stores Department, who was the Carrow Queen with other contestants following a dance at Colman House in 1960/1 - Credit: Archant Library

Our pictures today come from copies of the wonderful Carrow Magazine in the early 1960s which give us a flavour of what was going on when the workers had clocked off.

The clubs included:

  • Angling
  • Badminton
  • Billiards
  • Bowls
  • Cricket
  • Darts
  • Football
  • Hockey
  • Judo
  • Netball
  • Table tennis
  • Tennis
  • Yacht Club

And they were just the sporty ones!

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The Engineers Department team, runners-up in the darts competition  in 1961/2.

The Engineers Department team, runners-up in the darts competition in 1961/2. Standing: F Sewter, D Plumstead, N Godfrey, B Berry and D Pennington. Seated: M Dent, F Foster and F Pottle. - Credit: Archant Library

Mr W Neil was the latest member of the Carrow Art Circle

Mr W Neil was the latest member of the Carrow Art Circle, having taken the brush up in 1961, being featured in the works magazine. - Credit: Archant Library