Jarrold - a Norfolk institution at 250

Jarrolds store, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Jarrolds store, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

This is the story of how a gentleman from Woodbridge moved to Norwich where a world famous business we have come to love and cherish was established. Derek James picks up a new book all about the Jarrold family

The Eye-Catcher Boutique in Jarrold. Picture: Jarrold & Sons Ltd

The Eye-Catcher Boutique in Jarrold. Picture: Jarrold & Sons Ltd - Credit: Jarrold & Sons Ltd

This is a journey which begins in 1770. A cold and stormy year of great upheaval.

Captain Cook and the crew of HMS Endeavour became the first Europeans to reach the eastern seaboard of Australia while British troops and American colonists were clashing in Boston and New York City.

Such a different world to the one we take for granted today.

In the Suffolk town of Woodbridge cloth was on the mind of young John Jarrold who was setting up his drapery and grocery business.

R Jarrold & J Sadd. Picture: Jarrold & Sons Ltd

R Jarrold & J Sadd. Picture: Jarrold & Sons Ltd - Credit: Jarrold & Sons Ltd

Little did he imagine what the future would hold and how famous his name would become across East Anglia and beyond.

Now we can all learn what happened over the years in a new book Jarrold: 250 Years which has been written and researched so well by accomplished Norfolk author Pete Goodrum with great support from members of the family especially Caroline Jarrold.

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But don't take my word for it.

The foreword has been written by our very own Stephen Fry who, like so many of us, says Jarrold has always been a part of his life.

A happy day. Richard and Waltraud Jarrold, Ann and Antony, Juliet and Peter celebrate Peter’s 80th b

A happy day. Richard and Waltraud Jarrold, Ann and Antony, Juliet and Peter celebrate Peter’s 80th birthday in 2013. Picture: Jarrold & Sons Ltd - Credit: Jarrold & Sons Ltd

He bought his first ever LP record at the landmark store on the corner of London Street and Exchange Street in Norwich during the early 1970s.

Stephen later queued up to buy a book and get a signature from Frank Muir. Several years later he was sitting at the same table signing copies of his book.

"It is impossible to have grown up in Norfolk with any kind of interest in books and reading without having got to know Jarrold. The name has always been as Norwich as Colman's Mustard and the Canaries," writes Stephen.

The pleasure of receiving a postcard and noting that it had "Jarrold and Sons" printed on it. The thrill of recognition when a book or poster announced itself as being "Printed in Norwich by Jarrold and Sons."

The new book marking 250 years which tells the remarkable story of the Jarrold family. Picture: Jarr

The new book marking 250 years which tells the remarkable story of the Jarrold family. Picture: Jarrold & Sons Ltd - Credit: Jarrold & Sons Ltd

And of course there is so much more to Jarrold than books - its majestic store in the heart of Norwich stands as a symbol and a tribute to this family who have become part of so many lives.

Pick up a copy of the book and, as Stephen says: "You hold in your hands a full and fascinating history of this remarkable, quarter-millennium-old family business. Printing, publishing, retail, training and property development - the Jarrold story chronicles more than the history of one very special company...

"It tells the story of a city, a county and a people. I do hope Pete Goodrum will sit down for a signing session. I'll be more than happy to queue up," says Stephen.

For some Jarrold has been a place to shop while for others it has been a place to work and over so many decades it has become part of our life.

Many people got a job at Jarrold, perhaps as a printer, and stayed for the rest of their working lives. Memories of the family were highly respected...and always will be.

From humble beginnings it was in Woodbridge where John Jarrold laid the seeds of the business. Tragically he died in 1775 aged 30.

His son, also John, took over the business. He married Hannah Hill, born at Homersfield, near Harleston , in Norfolk and they lived at Dallinghoo, north of Woodbridge.

At the time John was farming but times were hard,. The great armies of Wellington and Bonaparte clashed at Waterloo. Peace came, but at a price.

What next? Publishing.

He went into partnership with Benjamin Smith and set up a business in Suffolk printing pamphlets, books and the like from premises in Woodbridge and then on horseback across Suffolk.

When Smith moved on John and his son John joined forces to become. They became Jarrold & Son. In 1823 they moved to Norwich and announced in our own Norwich Mercury they were up and running in Cockey Lane, three doors from the Market Place.

John opened an account at Gurney's Bank and deposited £7,000 in cash - a hefty sum.

At the time Norwich was a city of many quarters. At one level prosperous, at another dark and dodgy with many families surviving in stinking slums.

Rich and poor, old and new, they all took a liking to these Jarrold folk from Suffolk. Father and son worked hard and other members of the family moved to Norwich to join the printing, booksellers, binding and stationary business. l

Unlike some prosperous business folk, who lived in luxury and cared little for others, the Jarrold's reached out to the less fortunate with John, in 1828, helping to form a Sunday school in poverty-stricken Pockthorpe. He worked tirelessly for the Norwich City Mission.

As time passed the business grew. A century on from the Woodbridge shop Jarrold ran big premises in Norwich employing a sizeable workforce and in London the Jarrold & Sons Booksellers and Publishers' house established.

St James Mill became the printing works, shops were opened across the region...thanks to the clever and forward-thinking members of this family the business flourished and prospered

That is a just a tiny look at the early days of Jarrold from his in-depth book which tells the story of how Jarrold became top retailers, world-famous printers, legendary publishers, leading business training providers...and so much more.

They also played a leading role in life across our region involved in civic and charity work.

While we have several large department stores the stunning Skipper designed building which is Jarrold is OUR shop and we have much to thank members of this family for.

As John Jarrold described it, long ago, in a letter to his brothers. It is "a very fine business." It certainly is...at the heart of a Fine City.

Here's to the next 250 years!

Jarrold. Est. 1770. 250 Years: A History by Pete Goodrum is on sale now - in Jarrold.