One of Norwich’s oldest stores makes plea to customers: ‘We need you more than ever.’

Emily Motts, who continues to run Thorns DIY along with her father and sister. She is pictured here

Emily Motts, who continues to run Thorns DIY along with her father and sister. She is pictured here in happier times but is vowing to keep the store open for customers throughout coronavirus. Pic: Archant

A long-running family-run hardware store in Norwich is offering free delivery to keep going while ensuring customers stay at home.

The Thorns store in the 1960s. Pic: Thorns

The Thorns store in the 1960s. Pic: Thorns

A boss at Thorns DIY, Exchange Street said the store is open for business – one of the ‘essential’ shops allowed to keep trading – but they had reduced their hours.

She also said they were trying to encourage people to stay at home by offering a free delivery service on orders of more than £15 in the Norwich area.

And she vowed Thorns would survive. “Our shop is rich in history, we are a family business and it has been in my family for four generations, we have survived two world wars and a gas explosion so we are strong and resilient.

“But we are also a dying breed of shop, there are not many ironmongers/hardware stores in the UK now but our lovely, loyal Norfolk customers keep us afloat.


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“We need them more than ever, we have been overwhelmed by the support and for that we are truly grateful.

“Our staff have also gone above and beyond and are like a family to us.”

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Thorns was established in 1835 by a London merchant named Robert Elliot Thorn. He came to own many properties within the city and noticed there was an opening in the market for an ironmongers.

As his sons were not interested in joining the business but wanted to become missionaries in Africa, Robert was joined by Thomas Paston senior. The business remained with the Paston family right up to the present day.

In 1973, Thomas Paston junior was joined by his son-in-law Peter Motts and in 1995 by Peter’s daughter Miriam. In 2011 they were joined by Peter’s second daughter, Emily who helps run it today.

For updates on coronavirus in Norfolk see the Facebook page here

Robert Elliot Thorn, pictured centre, along with his staff in the late 1800s. Pic: Thorns

Robert Elliot Thorn, pictured centre, along with his staff in the late 1800s. Pic: Thorns

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