Gerry Cooper: Started Norfolk Upholstery and worked on the Royal Yacht Britannia

Specialist furniture maker and upholsterer, Gerry Cooper, who has died aged 88, built up a thriving business in Norwich.

His range of hand-made, stitched and finished suites and sofas, using traditional beechwood frames from Heacham in west Norfolk, were sold around the country in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

At the height of demand for quality furniture, Anglian Furnishing, then based in Diamond Road, Norwich, employed about 50 staff including four women, who worked full-time filling and stitching seat cushions.

They made between 300 and 350 suites a week until a disastrous fire put paid to the business.

Born in Norwich in 1922, Victor Gerald Cooper, always known as Gerry, was one of seven children. He went to the Norman School, where incidentally his only son, Michael, later attended.


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He became an apprentice coach trimmer with Mann Egerton, fitting and repairing upholstery on cars including Rolls-Royces.

He also worked on a refit of the Royal Yacht Britannia but always complained that he had never been fully paid for his upholstery efforts.

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During the second world war, he fitted canopies for military vehicles.

After the war, he started to specialise in domestic upholstery, working from a small shop in St George's.

He started what became Anglian Furnishing in a small woodyard off the Aylsham Road in the early 1960s with just two members of staff.

As demand increased, he was encouraged by outside investors to expand, initially into premises at Woodside Road (now the home of a snooker club) in 1966.

Then about six years later, bigger premises at Diamond Road were taken.

When this business failed, he started Norfolk Upholstery, originally from a small unit at Hevingham, in 1974.

As it specialised in the traditional upholstery, it became successful and a year later moved to a new factory in Javelin Road on the Norwich Airport industrial estate, Norwich, which is now run by his son.

He continued working well into his 70s as the business concentrated on repairing and restoring traditional seating, domestic and antique, alongside making furniture for hotels and restaurants.

His wife, Catherine, predeceased. They had six daughters and a middle son, and a total of 52 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

He is survived by his youngest brother, Brian.

A funeral service has been held.

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