John Olorenshaw: At heart of Norwich motor trade and elder statesman of Norfolk business

John Olorenshaw with a time capsule buried by his mother in 1955.

John Olorenshaw with a time capsule buried by his mother in 1955. - Credit: Archant

For more than 30 years, John Olorenshaw, who has died aged 86, was at the heart of the motor trade in his native Norwich.

He and his brother, Peter, were joint managing directors of the Norwich Motor Company in Prince of Wales Road for 30 years until the business was sold in 1987. The former chairman of the Norwich section of the Motor Agents' Association wanted a further challenge to promote the city, trade and industry.

So, he volunteered to help the Norfolk & Waveney Chamber of Commerce and Industry, working two days a week. Recognising the importance of the tourism industry, he was instrumental in forming the Norwich Area Tourism Agency. But he also became heavily involved in the chamber's proposals for park and ride schemes, which would help to keep the city centre alive. 'The Chamber is very concerned about the congestion in the city and to keep the shops busy,' he told the EDP in the early 1990s.

He also became recognised as an 'elder statesman of Norfolk business,' said the former chamber president Geoffrey Copeman when he made his last appearance in July 1993 after six years on Radio Norfolk twice weekly programme. He had followed Lord Mackintosh, who had been founder chairman of the Norfolk and Suffolk branch of the Institute of Directors, in the chair in 1978. Another interest was the Public Utility Board, which tried to 'prevent the same road being dug up one time after another.'

A founder member of the Strangers Club in Norwich, he was also a former president, and a member of Norfolk Round Table, the first in the country.

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Born in Norwich, he went to Norwich School and then Edinburgh University. When he left the Royal Navy Voluntary Reserve as a sub-lieutenant in 1947 – on his 21st birthday, he decided to join the Rootes Motor Group as a trainee manager. It ran a two-year course for ex-officers and then he joined his father, Frank, who had started in the motor trade as a 16-year-old in 1912.

He carried on another family tradition as president of the Carrow School Old Boys' Association when he succeeded his late father in 1958. His grandfather, also John, was headmaster of the school until it was closed in 1916.

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They shared a passion for cars and were both members of the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain. 'We did all the Brighton runs from 1946 to 1956,' he once said.

For many years, he owned a 1913 Sunbeam, the only one of its type still in existence. He also took part in rallies in England and France for a number of years.

Mr Olorenshaw was also one of the eight founder members of the Sporting Car Club of Norfolk, which was established in 1951 when cars and also petrol started to become more readily available after the second world war. He took part in the club's jubilee and was also the guest of honour and addressed the club's 60th anniversary celebrations at Kimberley.

He leaves a widow, Sylvia, two children, Sarah and Charles, and two grandchildren, Alex and Nick.

A funeral service will be held at Christ Church, Eaton, on Thursday, January 17 at noon. A committal will take place at Earlham Crematorium at 3pm.

Michael Pollitt

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