Question mark over Jarrold Printing museum

By Jo Francis, Wednesday 26 September 2018

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The future of the John Jarrold Printing Museum in Norwich has been called into question because plans to redevelop the site will include demolition of its existing location.


Litho stone featuring the St James Mill building in Norwich. Image: JJPM

The redevelopment plan for the Whitefriars site on Barrack Street, the former location of the Jarrold Printing business, includes 200 homes, a hotel and offices as part of a planning application granted more than a decade ago.

Jarrold & Sons owns the land and is working with development partner Hill on the project.

While the old printing factory had already been flattened to make way for the redevelopment, the Printing Museum is still located there in what was the engineers’ workshop, but this will also be demolished when the plans go ahead.

“We are looking at various options to see how the museum can be sustainable in the future and that process has now started,” Jarrold finance director Christopher Doggett told PrintWeek.

The museum opened in 1982 and has moved before within the Jarrold facilities.

It is staffed by volunteers and opens on Wednesday mornings. 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 (pictured below).


A source close to the situation, who preferred to remain anonymous, expressed fears that the collection could be reduced to “a few token pieces in a coffee shop within the housing development – nothing in comparison to the vast collection which the museum is home to at present”.

“The majority of volunteers who help at the museum are ex-comps, printers or binders, and the museum is as much about preserving their knowledge and passing it on to visitors and their fellow members – it is very much a ‘community’,” the source said.

They said the museum was also used by the Norwich University of the Arts, “which sends all first year Graphics students to learn about the origins of typography, design and print. Many of these return in their latter years to produce work of their own or learn more.”

BPIF chief executive Charles Jarrold is a member of the extended Jarrold family and was at one time managing director of Jarrold Printing. He is not directly involved with this project or the management of Jarrold. 

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