The Norfolk businesses by royal appointment to Her Majesty
- Credit: PA
From tripadvisor to trustpilot, people love checking what other people think. But what if you could get a recommendation from the Queen herself?
Actually you can, and Norfolk has more Royal Warrants than any other county in the country. The royal seal of approval has been around for more than 500 years and can be awarded by the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh or the Prince of Wales. More than 700 businesses which supply goods or services to royal households across the UK have a Royal Warrant - 44 of them in Norfolk.
It means that living like a royal in Norfolk might not be as difficult as you would imagine with the chance to drink like a royal (Sandringham apple juice), eat like a royal (Coles Seafood or JE Howard Butchers of west Norfolk), eat your five-a-day like a royal (fruit and veg wholesalers D&F McCarthy of Norwich), feed your horses like a royal (Allen and Page of Shipdham and H&C Beart of Stow Bridge) and even recycle like a royal (Baco Compaq of Bawsey) or lock up like a royal (Magpie Security.)
The royal family regularly buy bread from Smiths the Bakers of King’s Lynn – but last summer the Duke of Cambridge had a reverse “let them eat cake” moment when he visited the store and was presented with an early birthday cake. He called in as part of a morale-boosting morning for local businesses, finding out how they had coped through the first lockdown. Prince William also bought some pastries and tried the bakery’s Sandringham tea. Smiths the Bakers celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and has held a Royal Warrant for more than 30 years. Baker Paul Brandon said: “We supply mainly bread goods when the royals are residing in west Norfolk. Either at Sandringham House or Wood Farm. We have always been very proud to hold the Royal Warrant and having this connection with the royal family. We feel very privileged and honoured to hold this position of serving the royal family.”
Back in 1931 King George V bought three tractors from a new agricultural engineering company set up by brothers Ben and Edward Burgess and Norman Marshall. They were some of the first diesel tractors in Norfolk, where many farmers still relied on horses. Ninety years on Ben Burgess Ltd is still suppling agricultural and garden machinery to Sandringham - although it only applied for a Royal Warrant in 1989. “We didn’t think it was for the likes of us supplying farm machinery!” said Ben Turner, managing director of Ben Burgess Ltd and grandson of Ben Burgess who sold the then ultra-modern diesel tractors to the King. “Having the Royal Warrant was a great achievement for Ben Burgess and his fellow directors back in 1989 and they were very proud of their achievement,” said Ben. “It was also a great boost for staff morale, a little like winning a big ‘silver cup’ to display on the shelf. Then the internet came along and we began selling farm machinery abroad and were expecting those customers to pay before it left our yard. However giving them confidence to send large sums of money to another country wasn’t easy so we took the big ‘silver cup’ off the shelf and used it on our website! It gave us instant credibility and our export sales have increased year on year. We now have a fantastic website which receives on average 26,000 visitors per month from 172 countries worldwide."
Mark Harrod is managing director of D&H Harrod Coaches of Downham Market and said: “We supply the Royal Family with coaches for various trips including trips around the estate, the annual Garden Party at Buckingham Palace and major events including the Queens 90th birthday celebrations down in London. We have been a Royal Warrant holder since 2008 and extremely proud to be able to serve the Royal Family. Whenever one of the coaches is out and about, people are drawn to it. We hope to continue working with the Royal Family for years to come once we get through the pandemic.”
The company was launched in Wormegay, near King’s Lynn in 1927 by Herman Harrod and his widow Dolly learned to drive so that she could continue the business after he died. She took the business from one to eight coaches by the time she retired in the 1990s and it has since been expanded further by new generations of the family. In normal times the gleaming fleet of modern and classic D&H Harrod coaches are out and about in Britain and abroad taking people on journeys including day trips and holidays.
George Goddard tailoring was founded more than 125 years ago and today specialises in making bespoke formal suits and country clothing and hats. David Goddard, grandson of the founder, said: “We are Royal Warrant holders for Her Majesty the Queen for making clothing and headwear. We are extremely proud. It’s an honour and a privilege and a great accolade." His daughter is also a tailor and the fourth generation of the Goddard family to work in the business, based in South Wootton, near King’s Lynn. “Most of our work for our customers is bespoke clothing and headwear,” said David. “We use British cloth, mostly English or Scottish. A lot of what we do is tweed. We also make up customers own tweed.” Corporate clients include hotels, airports, golf clubs and other travel and leisure businesses.
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The Royal palaces and households have lots of collections which need to be professionally conserved and archived including paintings, textiles and documents. Cliff Gothorp launched his company company, Preservation Equipment Ltd, to work with museums, galleries and archives. Specialising in cleaning, repairing and storing objects it was soon working with collections around the world and was awarded a Royal Warrant in 2014. It developed its own specialist vacuum cleaner for fragile items and now has thousands of cleaning and storage products, many of which are made at its Diss headquarters. Sam Gothorp is now managing director of the family business which is very proud to be able to be helping to conserve objects, art and documents in the royal collections.
Neale Davies has been helping keeping buildings around Sandringham looking beautiful for 20 years, working on many projects across the estate. His team of painters and decorators, based in Great Massingham, near King’s Lynn, work indoors and out and Neale said: “Receiving the award was a big honour and means a lot to me.”
Could your business be awarded a Royal Warrant?
Every business awarded a Royal Warrant must have been supplying a royal household for at least five years; some have been doing so for a century or more. Businesses can apply themselves, between the beginning of May and the end of June, and, if successful, are granted a Royal Warrant for up to five years, which can be renewed. Not all businesses are eligible with goods and services not able to apply include banks, solicitors and newspapers. For more details visit The Royal Warrant Holders Association at https://www.royalwarrant.org/
Norfolk companies with a Royal Warrant granted by the Queen include:
AC Bacon Engineering of Hingham.
AJ Freezer Water Services of Swaffham.
Sandringham Apple Juice of Flitcham.
Baco-Compak waste recyclers of Bawsey.
BBC Fire Protection of Wymondham.
Ben Burgess agricultural, construction and garden machinery retailer of Norwich.
COS office supplies of King's Lynn.
Chas D Allflatt building maintenance of King's Lynn.
Coles Seafood of King's Lynn.
Chris Sopp Scaffolding of Heacham
D&H Harrod Coaches of Downham Market.
D&F McCarthy fruit, vegetable, dairy and grocery wholesalers of Norwich, which also has a Royal Warrant from the Prince of Wales.
Darby Nursery Stock plant wholesaler of Methwold.
Deborah Steward Catering of Walsingham.
Eastern Foundry Lead roofing and building conservation contractor of Southburgh near Thetford.
Farrows designers, printers and stationers of Norwich.
Foster Refrigerator of King's Lynn.
G&B Electrical Services of Briston.
Genesis Lifts of Framingham Pigot.
George Goddard tailors of South Wootton.
H&C Beart animal feed millers of Stow Bridge.
Hayley East Anglia transport and storage of King’s Lynn.
Hooker Roofing of Ingoldisthorpe.
JE Howard Butchers of Gayton.
King’s Lynn Glass and Trimming.
Loddon Equestrian which produces internal stabling and equestrian products at Raveningham.
M J Tree Services of Banningham.
Magpie Security Services of King's Lynn.
Neale Davies Painter and Decorator of Great Massingham.
P Bowyer drainage solutions of Rackheath.
PF Day and Son dressmaking, curtains, needlework and knitting of King's Lynn
Pattrick & Thompsons timber of King's Lynn.
Preservation Equipment of Diss.
PTS Power Tool Services of Rackheath.
RBS Engineering metal workers of Fakenham.
Scope Joinery of Beeston near King's Lynn.
Secol, which supplies archives and conservators, of Thetford.
Simon Ridgway Aga engineer of Cromer.
Smiths the Bakers of King’s Lynn.
Stoker Stock Fencing of Foxley.
West and East Anglian Asbestos Removal of Kings Lynn.
Horse feed company Allen and Page Ltd of Shipdham has a Royal Warrant from the Prince of Wales.
Read about nine wonders of West Norfolk