How Colman’s came to save our city - and now it has to be saved

Ready for distribution at the Colman's factory, 1994. Picture: Archant library

Ready for distribution at the Colman's factory, 1994. Picture: Archant library - Credit: Archant

It has put the name of Norwich on millions of plates across the world and provided work and welfare for generations of men, women and children - and now it MUST be saved.

Inside the Colman's factory, 1960. Picture: Archant library

Inside the Colman's factory, 1960. Picture: Archant library - Credit: Archant

Over the years our city has most of its manufacturing base but Colman's, the mustard makers, continued to shine as a beacon of light in a gloomy world.

The Colman family reached out to its workers like no other. Offering homes, education, health care and a huge range of other facilities.

The colman's baby food being loaded onto a Salvation Army van at the Colman's factory this morning,

The colman's baby food being loaded onto a Salvation Army van at the Colman's factory this morning, October 1984. Picture: Archant library - Credit: Archant

Getting a job at Carrow Works in the 'bad old days' was a like winning the pools.

You could get a good quality house, the company employed the first industrial nurse in the land, Philippa Flowerdew, there was a school on Carrow Hill, and a thriving social club which offered more facilities and activities than you could throw a stick at.

Colman's Paper Mill site Norwich, dated July 22nd, 1992. Picture: Archant library

Colman's Paper Mill site Norwich, dated July 22nd, 1992. Picture: Archant library - Credit: Archant


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It was a pioneering and caring company which was known, loved and copied all over the world.

We all know times change and Norwich has become a high-tech, forward-thinking 21st century city where so many people want to work, rest and play.

Grain arriving at Colman's factory in Norwich. Picture: Archant library

Grain arriving at Colman's factory in Norwich. Picture: Archant library - Credit: Archant

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But surely there is still a place for Colman's despite takeovers and mergers?

It has been at the heart of life in Norwich for more than 200 years and its positive ethos towards its workers spread far and wide as the company continue to grow.

The Colman's and Britivic factory Norwich, dated November 1995. Picture: Archant library

The Colman's and Britivic factory Norwich, dated November 1995. Picture: Archant library - Credit: Archant

It was 'Old Jeremiah' Colman, a miller at Bawburgh, who came to Norwich in 1804 and bought a business at Magdalen Gates before moving to Stoke Holy Cross where he leased a mill.

He didn't have any children but he adopted his nephew James who became a partner in the business in 1823. They were joined by two more nephews, another Jeremiah and Edward.

Hard at work on one of the many production lines at the Colman's factory, c1960. Picture: Archant li

Hard at work on one of the many production lines at the Colman's factory, c1960. Picture: Archant library - Credit: Archant

The Colman clan came together to work hard and build a business which provided work for many others. They were running out of room and in 1850 bought land Norfolk Railway Company; an extraordinary business empire was being born.

The products, including flour, mustard, washing powder and starch, grew along the factory and the number of employees at Carrow Works.

By 1905, around 2,500 people were working at the 32-acre Carrow Works. Business was booming but the clouds of war were looming.

• Watch this space as we continue the story following the development and expansion of Colmans at home and abroad and how members of the family took a leading role in the civic, religious and political life of the city, the county and country.

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