Generations of same family have led Palmers store in Great Yarmouth

Garwood Burton Palmer

Garwood Burton Palmer - Credit: Archant

A Great Yarmouth store is celebrating 180 years of trading in the centre of the town.

Garwood Burton Palmer's shop c 1880s

Garwood Burton Palmer's shop c 1880s - Credit: Archant

Now known as Palmers Department Store, the original Palmers shop was opened by Garwood Burton Palmer in the reign of King William IV in 1837.

The business started as a linen mercer's and silk drapers in the Market Place which had been the busiest trading centre of Great Yarmouth for centuries.

At this time the shop, which was later known as Albion House, covered only about 750 square feet of floor space. A contemporary description, after some alterations had been made to the premises, recorded Palmers as a firm depending on the family trade and combining superiority in manufacture with a high quality finish.

Garwood's younger brother Nathaniel Benjamin Palmer came into the business in 1844, seven years after its founding, and soon became a full partner. Although he died at the early age of 38 he left two sons Edward Ernest Palmer and James Hurry Palmer to join the business in 1874 and 1876 respectively to assist the founder.

Palmers Department Store in Great Yarmouth is gearing up for its 180th anniversary.
Picture: Anthon

Palmers Department Store in Great Yarmouth is gearing up for its 180th anniversary. Picture: Anthony Carroll - Credit: Archant


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When Garwood died in 1888, the business was left in the hands of Edward and James and became known as 'Palmer Bros'.

By 1908 Garwood's great nephew Percy Hurry Palmer was running the store.

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He expanded by purchasing properties to the side and back of the store and by the time of the firm's centenary had re-laid and refitted all departments creating an attractive and modern department store rivalling many in the bigger cities.

The family link was maintained when Percy's son-in-law Graham Sturrock joined the firm in 1947 and carried on to become chairman in 1960.

Bruce Sturrock joined his father in 1971 and became managing director in 1983 and then chairman of the company in 1993. Bruce was keen to recruit his sister Wendy Cole, who had been a Fashion Buyer at Bloomingdales in New York. She joined the company as fashion director in 1993.

In February 2012, David Howard was appointed managing director - the first person outside of the family to run the business in its 180-year history.

However, the family link has been maintained as Bruce Sturrock remains chairman and his daughter Emma Sturrock is eCommerce manager, running the store's fast expanding online business – www.palmerstores.com

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