The friendly Norwich factory celebrates 75th birthday

If you worked at Van Dal in Norwich you might be interested in having a reunion to celebrate the factory's 75th birthday, says Derek James

It's reunion time for the people who worked at the friendly Norwich shoe factory which has survived over the years while so many others have fallen and is now celebrating its 75th birthday this year.

My stories and photographs about life at Van Dal, part of the Florida Shoe Company, have brought back so many happy memories of life at the factory over the decades.

A place where Made in Norwich still stands for style and class.

So many of you called to say what a great place it was, and still is, to work – a real old-fashioned family firm which maintains the tradition of looking after their workers.

So let's step inside the factory gates and take a look at life over the years.

I hope these pictures will bring back a few more memories of happy days at Van Dal and Florida and will spark interest in a reunion for past and present workers. Just click on the link at the top right of this page to see them.

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The idea comes from Alan Robinson who took the photograph of the likely lads who were members of the Florida Fishing Club taken at the Edwards & Holmes car park more than 20 years ago

Alan spent 21 years in the clicking room at Florida and says: 'It was a good place to work with plenty of camaraderie and it would be interesting to meet up again with people who have worked at The Florida.'

The company is the last major manufacturer of ladies' shoes in the city where thousands of people once worked at more than 25 factories turning out millions of pairs of shoes.

It all started when Adelman Goodman moved up to Norwich from London in the 1930s to open a shoe factory and today the chairman of the business is his grandson Simon Goodman.

The Florida Show factory (Norwich) Ltd set up business in an old First World War aircraft hangar on the corner of Salhouse Road and the ring road. It became known as Florida Corner.

In the early days it employed about 80 people and although the numbers rose to more than 300, there are now about 80 working at the company HQ at Dibden Road near Mousehold.

Van Dal is a quality, wide-fitted shoe, popular across the land and although these are tough times Van Dal is looking to the future with confidence.

If you are interested in a reunion give Alan Robinson a call on Norwich (01603) 487588 or email him at

If you have any photographs or memories of Florida drop me a line at Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE, or email me at