'It's the end of an era' - Workers leave Colman's factory as final jar of Mustard comes off production line
PUBLISHED: 18:06 25 July 2019 | UPDATED: 08:44 26 July 2019
Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk
The last-ever jar of Colman's Mustard to be produced at the Carrow Works factory in Norwich has rolled off the production line - bringing an end to a 160-year-old history with the site.
Employees at the factory, near Trowse, said the last jar of mustard came off the production line at 6pm yesterday (July 24), and will be followed by 30 employees leaving the site at 3pm today.
It is understood that production of other mustard products at the factory will continue until early 2020.
Unilever, which owns the site and the Colman's brand, announced last year that it was moving the bulk of its production to Burton-upon-Trent and Germany.
The company will however maintain the brand's historic links with Norwich through the creation of a new state-of-the-art mustard mill near Easton.
Clive Lewis, MP for Norwich South, said: "It wasn't just the end of the production line, it's the end of an era and a very long and proud tradition in our city.
"Unfortunately, despite their rhetoric, Unilever and Britvic never fulfilled their promises and commitments." He added: "You only have to look at our city to see the thousands of houses that were built by the Colman family, and you only have to go back a little way in history to see the positive impact some of the companies our city has developed, like Norwich Union, now Aviva, and Colman's, have had on the shape of the city."
Speaking in January 2018, Unilever confirmed 113 jobs at the Carrow Works site would be affected and 45 people could be made redundant.
Around 43 roles will transfer to Burton-upon-Trent and the remaining 25 will go to the new milling plant at the new Norwich Food Enterprise Park.
A spokesperson for Unilever said about half of the 113 employees are still working at the Norwich site at present.
A spokesperson confirmed the last jar of mustard was produced at 6pm yesterday.
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"The precise closure date is to be confirmed but is expected to be early 2020 with production of some products continuing until this point," the Unilever spokesperson said.
A member of staff who works within the Norwich factory - speaking anonymously - said: "It is really sad because a lot of people have been working here for a lot of years."
The spokesperson said there was a commemoration of the final production run of jarred Colman's Mustard at the Norwich site this afternoon.
They said: "A farewell lunch was hosted for all employees at our Norwich site. During this lunch the factory manager gave a speech thanking each employee for their commitment to Colman's and time in the business, honouring the shared 450 years of service amongst those leaving.
"To mark this significant occasion, the last ever run of Colman's mustard jars on the production line replaced the 'best before' date with the following message 'Norwich's Last. By Its Finest. July 24th 2019'.
"These one of a kind Colman's mustard jars have been gifted to all employees."
Employees were also given a thank you letter from the site manager, a clock made from Colman's mustard tins and a signed copy of a painting of the mustard seed drying facility, the oldest operational building on site, done by a local artist.
Colman's Mustard has been manufactured at Carrow Works on Bracondale since 1858.
Unilever's announcement in 2018 came less than a month after Britvic confirmed its factory, which is at the same site, was also closing.
Britvic's plant, which produces Robinsons and Fruit Shoot, is due to shut this year, with manufacturing moving to Rugby, east London and Leeds.
More than 240 jobs were put at risk, but the company said it would look to redeploy staff where possible.
In a statement in December 2017, Britvic chief executive Simon Litherland said transferring production to the company's other manufacturing sites would "deliver significant productivity and efficiency savings in our manufacturing operations".