Industry stalwart Peter Jarrold dies

Jo Francis
Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Peter Jarrold, the former chairman of historic Norwich print works Jarrold & Sons and printing industry stalwart, has died aged 86.

Jarrold was born in 1933. After school he went straight into National Service, gaining a Commission in the Royal Engineers, and a posting to the Suez Canal zone in Egypt. Afterwards he went to Queens’ College, Cambridge, his father's old college, where he gained a BA (Honours) in Economics, and enjoyed sport including trials for the university rugby team.

His family said that, while considering his next move, “which, with typically disarming candour, he would later describe as ‘possibly sailing around the world or something’,” Jarrold received a pointed directive from his father, “the legendary printer John Jarrold”.

The message was quite clear: “Peter, it’s about time you started working. I’ve arranged with a printer in Switzerland to take you on for six months.”

On his way to Switzerland, Peter spent a short time studying book binding with the Fikentscher Buchbinderei in Darmstadt; his father had studied at their bindery in Leipzig a generation earlier.

The Swiss training  was the start of a lifelong involvement and love of print. Jarrold returned to the long-established print business and spent the next four decades working there.

“Peter was to become the leader of the family and the team that established Jarrold as a printer with a worldwide reputation for developments in complex binding, colour reproduction and high-quality offset lithography printing at its factory in Cowgate Norwich.

“Under Peter, the printing business expanded to in excess of 1,000 employees. The move out of letterpress, with raised type and blocks, into the photo processes of lithography printing, and the associated prepress photo-stages and plate-making, were all well managed and with ever increasing market expansion,” the family said.

During his tenure the Jarrold bindery was among the largest in the country.

When John Jarrold died in 1979 Peter became chairman of Jarrold & Sons.

He founded the John Jarrold Print Museum in memory of his father in 1982. It was originally located in the crypt of the former medieval Carmelite Whitefriars monastery, situated below the book bindery and, after a recent tricky period when its future looked uncertain, is now in the process of being relocated to a nearby church.

Like his father before him, Peter was president of both the BPIF and the Institute of Printing. In 1997 he was made Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers.

He also advised the Bank of England about printing and had been consulted about the possibility of printing the Euro. He was a supportive and engaged member of Euroffset, a network comprising Europe’s largest independent offset printers.

“Peter was a Trustee of the John Jarrold Trust for over 50 years and continuing a long tradition of Jarrold philanthropy he campaigned for, among other things, good provision for people with learning difficulties,” the family said.

Peter Jarrold’s nephew Charles Jarrold has also enjoyed a lengthy career in print, including at the family business, and is now chief executive at the BPIF.

He said: “Peter was chair of the business, and instrumental in encouraging me back into the industry properly in 1998, so I owe him a huge debt of gratitude.  He took a keen interest in all the family, especially my generation, and meeting him, frequently for lunch, was always invigorating and great fun. 

“Peter was always so engaged with everyone, and especially customers. He understood instinctively that getting to know and understand Jarrold Print’s customers’ needs was key to making good business decisions. His energy, humour and sense of fun will be sorely missed.”

Jarrold retired in 1999 and remained active in the local community.

The Jarrold family sold a majority stake in the printing business to a management buy-in team in 2004. Attempts to relocate the operation from its historic city centre site to a new out-of-town supersite proved problematic, and the print works shut down in 2006.

David Hill, Chairman of Jarrold, said ‘Peter was devoted to the company and everyone involved with it. He was held in the highest esteem by everyone who knew and worked with him. His passing leaves a gap in the commercial, civic and charitable life of Norwich and beyond’.  

Jarrold died peacefully on 3 November. He is survived by his wife Juliet, his son Julian, his daughters Susie and Millie, and their families.

A private family funeral will be held on Friday (22 November), and plans are being made to hold a memorial service in the new year.


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