Jarrold Museum finds new home in Norwich church

Richard Stuart-Turner
Monday, October 28, 2019

The John Jarrold Printing Museum is set to relocate to a medieval church in Norwich after closing at its existing site, which faces demolition.

According to Eastern Daily Press (EDP), the museum closed its doors for the final time at its existing location in the city, in an annex of St James’ Mill, in Whitefriars, last Wednesday (23 October) and will reopen inside St Peter Parmentergate in King Street in summer 2020.

Looked after by Norwich Historic Churches Trust, the church is currently vacant. As well as featuring machinery and artefacts from the museum’s current display, the new location will also have the scope to offer visitors courses in printing, book binding and letterpress techniques.

Caroline Jarrold, community affairs adviser at Jarrold, told Printweek: “It’s great that the museum remains a central site within Norwich and makes great use of an existing historic building.

“It’s not always that easy to find good uses for these churches, so it very much fit with the strategy of the Norwich Historic Churches Trust to get arts-based organisations into the churches; we’ve got a puppet theatre in one of them and an arts/production group in another.”

She added: “It’s also located very close to the National Centre for Writing, which is just along the street in another historic building called Dragon Hall, so it fits very nicely within that part of the city.

“There is also quite a lot of housing development happening in that area, so it’s becoming increasingly lively, and it’s just a stone’s throw away from the city centre so it’s quite easily accessible.”

Redevelopment plans to build 218 new homes as well as apartments and commercial space at the Whitefriars site on Barrack Street, which is owned by Jarrold & Sons and also formerly housed the Jarrold Printing business, were originally submitted last year and approved in March.

While the old printing factory had already been flattened to make way for the redevelopment, the Printing Museum was still located there in what was the engineers’ workshop, but that site will now also be demolished.

At its new home, the museum will be renamed The Norwich Printing Museum and will include the John Jarrold heritage collection and “most of what was included in the previous museum”, according to Jarrold.

“The core of the museum’s collection was the Jarrold collection, but over the years, as other printers or museums closed, more material was donated to our museum, so it’s got a lot of things that weren’t part of the Jarrold history.

“Like with any museum, at the moment they are reviewing exactly what their collections policy is but it will be substantially the same collection. It’s just about whether there are any extraneous things that don’t really tell the story of printing.

“Maybe they will look for other items as well going forward, but space is always going to be somewhat constrained and I think it’s important that they have the space to show the equipment effectively.”

Work to relocate the museum’s collection will start in December.

The John Jarrold Printing Museum originally opened in 1982 and has moved before within the Jarrold facilities.

It has an archive and extensive collection of equipment ranging from hand composing to phototypesetting, and from letterpress to litho and binding, much of it donated by other printing companies.

The collection includes what is thought to be the only surviving example of a Ratcliff direct lithographic press, dating from 1927 and donated by Curwen Studios in London.

Jarrold said this machine will be making the move over to the new museum, but that it is currently being decided whether it will be part of the museum’s initial display or will come in at a later date.

Staffed by volunteers, the museum has traditionally opened on Wednesday mornings and four half days during the annual Heritage Weekend in September, but Jarrold said the plan is that the new museum “will be open far more for the general public”.

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