Three generations of the Jarrold family have been Presidents of the Norwich Chamber.

First was Thomas Herbert Curteis Jarrold from 1931-32, at the height of the Great Depression, who had been a partner at the family firm since 1890.

The ‘House of Jarrold’s History’ praises his role in WW1 finding new outlets for the company in the manufacture of stationary, toys and games to keep the workforce in employment.

His son Herbert 'John' Jarrold was President from 1965-67, having become Chairman in 1937.

During the Second World War he allowed his relatives in Curl Bros. to use the first floor of Jarrolds following the destruction of their premises by the Luftwaffe during the Norwich Blitz.

His son Peter succeeded him as Chairman on his death and his other son, Richard Jarrold, would be Chamber President from 1977-79, and was Chairman of Jarrold 2000-02.

The story of Jarrold itself begins in 1770 when John Jarrold I opened a grocers and drapers in the Market Place at Woodbridge in Suffolk. The start of the nineteenth century saw the entrepreneurial John Jarrold II diversify from retail into farming and then into printing, in doing so pursuing the most economically advantageous business at the time. 1815 saw farm prices crash and so to keep the business alive John Jarrold II established a printing press at the farm.

Norwich was a busy, bustling and cosmopolitan city, and so provided the ideal place to move the business to in 1823. John Jarrold II set up as a bookseller, publisher and printer at 3 Cockey Lane (now London Street), opposite to the present premises. He ran the business with his four sons; John James, Samuel, William and Thomas.

1840 saw the move to part of the present site at London Street, and over the next 164 years the company gradually acquired the rest of the current site.

Offices were opened in London and new printing works were built in Little London Street circa 1860. Thomas Jarrold was one of the originators of The Norfolk News, the forerunner to Archant, which was printed by Jarrold from 1853 to 1858.

The first edition of one of the most famous children's books of all time, Great Yarmouth born Anna Sewell's Black Beauty, was published by Jarrold in 1878. This illustration is one of a series of 18 watercolours by well-known animal painter Cecil Aldin, commissioned by Jarrold for an edition in 1912.

A fresh period of development began when the business was handed down to Samuel's sons: William and Herbert. By the early part of the twentieth century, Jarrold had developed into a substantial retail business, with a branch opening in Cromer in 1881 later to include a subscription library, and a shop with printing works acquired in Yarmouth in 1888. Further branches in Sheringham and Lowestoft followed within a few years. Luggage, sports goods and stationery were sold alongside art pottery and glass made in Britain and also imported from Japan and Germany.

When Clement Scott, widely read Daily Telegraph journalist and theatre critic, coined the phrase ‘Poppyland’, East Anglia quickly became a popular summer resort. Jarrold responded by publishing a series of guidebooks and postcards.

Jarrold's advanced printing division at Cowgate since 1902, supported by a general publishing house in London, saw the company become one of the premier printing operations in the world. At its height it employed approximately 1,500 people.

In 1911, the first year of the reign of H.M. King George V, Jarrold was granted a Royal Warrant for stationery. The Royal stamp was proudly displayed on the illustrated cover of the first gift catalogue produced by the company in 1914.

Leading Norwich architect George Skipper, who had designed the London Street building in 1903, remodelled the frontage of the Exchange Street/London Street corner in 1923. 

George Skipper was behind other city landmarks including the Royal Arcade and Norwich Union Marble Hall.

In 1937 Herbert 'John' Jarrold became chairman upon the death of his father, Thomas Herbert Jarrold.

The Second World War wreaked havoc on the business when the Yarmouth branch was bombed in 1941, destroying the print works, although the retail shop could be repaired. When its premises suffered extensive bomb damage, Curls department store (later Debenhams) was housed on a floor of Jarrolds.

Norwich was chosen to present one of four special provincial festivals for the Festival of Britain. Jarrold printed this programme publicising The Norwich Festival in June 1951, which featured theatrical and musical performances, lectures and dances.

The retail business was expanding at a huge rate and in 1964 Jarrolds purchased the adjacent Corn Hall on the Exchange Street and Bedford Street frontage. The new building opened in 1965 with enlarged book and household departments and, for the first time, ladies clothing.

Fashion controller, Mrs Whitehouse, said of the new fashion floor in The Jarrold Magazine:

"After years of being associated with fine printing, publishing, stationery, books, it really is a big surprise for all to learn that we are launching into the world of fashion. 'This Fashion Lark', as one of the staff calls it, will bring you a touch of the glamour that emanates from Paris and London." 

When Hebert 'John' Jarrold died in 1979, Peter Jarrold succeeded him as chairman.

Peter Jarrold opened the 'John Jarrold Printing Museum' at Whitefriars in his honour in 1982 and this continues as a working museum today.

In 2005 the company acquired the Pilch sports store in Norwich and, by relocating it to London Street in 2006, was able to treble the size of the store.

The retail division of Jarrold has continued to develop and thrive through changing market conditions and is one of the few remaining independently owned department stores in the UK.


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