Celebrating 40 Years
This year marks Norwich Sunblinds’ 40th year in business, and what a fantastic journey it’s been! From our inception in 1978, by our founder John Reddington and our first store in St Benedict’s Street in Norwich, all the way through to our second larger premises in Attleborough, we have enjoyed being an integral part of the fabric of Norfolk for the past four decades.
In our early days, we began manufacturing made-to-measure vertical and roller blinds above our St Benedict’s shop. This proved to be a challenging time, as the five-metre rail heads came in a lorry which meant that the street had to be shut. The headrails were then lifted into the upstairs window, as they wouldn’t fit through the shop! Fortunately, we no longer have these issues at our current manufacturing premises in Attleborough, but it certainly brings back interesting memories!
Fabric designs have changed over the years, but Orla Kiely’s fabulous designs, which hark back to the 70s, are currently very popular.
To celebrate four decades in business, we are pulling back the curtains and taking a look at how Norwich and the UK have changed during this period. We hope you enjoy this whistle-stop walk down memory lane with us.
The year of our inception was a culturally rich one. We had the Beegees, Rod Stewart, Kate Bush, Boney M and Queen providing us with unforgettable soundtracks. Not to mention the release of Gerry Rafferty’s iconic song Baker Street, with the unmistakable sax solo that still makes the hair stand up on the back of our necks. The Sex Pistols played their last gig in 1978 (up until their reunion in 1996), while Sony released their first prototype of the Walkman.
The cinemas saw Christopher Reeve bring Superman into our lives, while it still wasn’t safe to go back into the water as Jaws returned for a second movie. For those seeking comedy, they had the pleasure of seeing the unforgettable Inspector Clouseau, in Revenge of the Pink Panther. However, the defining film of the year was one that starred a young John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, in Grease, a movie that has stood the test of time and is still a favourite amongst audiences today. Meanwhile, on TV, we welcomed Grange Hill and Dallas, but said farewell to The Good Life and The Sweeney.
Roald Dahl continued to inspire a generation of young readers with his new book, The Enormous Crocodile. Former UEA Student, Ian McEwan published one of his first novels The Cement Garden in 1978, and the timeless Garfield comic strips came into print.
Closer to home, 1978 marked 700 years since Norwich Cathedral was consecrated. Norwich City were in the Football League First Division and the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, the first-ever public building designed by Norman Foster, officially opened its doors to the public.
A twinning agreement was officially signed between Norfolk and the Rhineland Palatinate in Germany, as an indicator of growing development links between the regions.
Since then, we’ve witnessed widespread change across the city. Further developments were completed in housing estates, such as the Clover Hill and Chapel Break villages in Bowthorpe. In the city centre, we have seen the closure of Woolworths on St Stephens Street, along with a Big W store at the Riverside. On a positive note, we have seen the opening of Castle Mall in 1993 and intu Chapelfield in 2005, with their wide selection of big brand shops and restaurants.
The Bonds store, which had traded under that name for over 120 years, finally rebranded as John Lewis in 2001, despite having being bought by them 19 years earlier. The Cannon Cinema (formerly ABC Norwich and The Regent) shut their doors for good in the 90s, and is now home to the Mercy XS nightclub. Another significant change was the closure of St Augustine’s pool in 1996, where many locals donned their swimming costumes and learnt to swim.
Across the UK, 1978 was the ground-breaking year when Louise Brown became the first baby to be born through IVF treatment. This was a time when the VHS and Betamax format battle was in full swing, phones with rotary dials were commonplace and avocado bathrooms were in vogue. It’s hard to believe, but back then it was possible to buy a new home for a mere £9,100. BBC Radio 4 remind us that the cost of a pint of milk was 11p, and a loaf of bread only set you back 28p. How times have changed!
Since then, we’ve had six new Prime Ministers, including Margaret Thatcher and viewed 10 Olympic Games, counting those which took place in London in 2012. We hosted one of the Live Aid concerts at Wembley in 1985, which along with its sister concert in Philadelphia, was viewed by over 1.5 billion people in over 160 countries. Sky began broadcasting in 1989, and the following decade saw the increased use of the World Wide Web and the rise of international pop superstars, the Spice Girls. In 2003, England lifted the Rugby World Cup for the very first time, as Jonny Wilkinson helped lead the team to victory.
We’ve also witnessed the closure of some nationwide chains such as BHS, JJB Sports, Comet and Phones 4u in recent years. If anything, this is testament to Norwich Sunblinds’s ability to weather tough economic times as a family-owned business that continues to provide a quality service to our customers.
Our team has grown over the years, and we continue to make our blinds in-house, with our highly experienced and fully trained craftspeople. We are proud to be a company that invests in the local community.
Over the course of the last 40 years in business, we have expanded our product range to include new types of blinds, such as perfect fit, roman, vision/visage blinds, shaped blinds for unusual sized windows, as well as shutters, curtains, fly screens, conservatory sails and our own range of fabrics. We look forward to continuing to develop our product range, to make sure we offer products of the highest quality in years to come.
But most importantly, we wouldn’t be here today without you. We’d therefore like to send a heartfelt thank you to all our customers, past and present, for supporting us over the past 40 years. We look forward to delivering the same high standard of service to you for the next 40!
Sainsbury Centre photo courtesy of the Sainsbury Centre and Pete Huggin