Steering group outlines vision for new Jarrold Printing Museum

By Richard Stuart-Turner, Monday 08 July 2019

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A steering committee set up to campaign for the John Jarrold Printing Museum to remain intact in Norwich has outlined its proposals for a new museum as its existing site faces demolition.


The museum's collection includes a Ratcliff direct lithographic press

The museum is set to be relocated and scaled down after Norwich City Council’s planning committee approved plans in March for Hill Residential to build 218 homes at the museum’s existing site, which is owned by Jarrold & Sons.

The redevelopment plans to build the new homes as well as apartments and commercial space at the Whitefriars site on Barrack Street, the former location of the Jarrold Printing business, were originally submitted last year.

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 that site will now be demolished.

It had already been confirmed that the museum will be accommodated as part of the new development, but it will be significantly pared back.

This would see “the disposal of around 75% of the collection, including a number of items considered by many leading printing historians as being the last surviving examples of their type”, according to a letter sent to PrintWeek by the John Jarrold Printing Museum Steering Committee.

An accompanying report, which outlines the committee’s proposals for a new museum, said: “It is envisaged that when visitors enter the proposed new Museum and Centre for Printing they will be taking a step back in time to an authentic printing works as would have been seen in the mid to late 20th century.

“They will learn the story of printing from its origins through to the invention of moveable type, the Industrial Revolution and the birth of computers, desktop publishing and the digital age.

“Working and non-working machines and the tools of the trade will be strategically displayed across a timeline punctuated with letterpress displays.”

The committee proposes that the new museum should initially be open four days per week, from Thursday to Sunday, “to offer the best opportunity for schools, colleges, the working public and retirees”, while possible sources of income could include paid workshops, membership options and the introduction of “a modest entry fee”.

Additionally, it proposes that the new museum’s marketing activities could include a rebranding and publicity campaign, a new website linked to all major social media platforms and a launch event that educational institutions and arts organisations would be invited to.

Finally, the proposals said a location within the city “is crucial for ease of access for volunteers and visitors and for maximum collaboration with partners”.

A spokesperson for Jarrold & Sons told the Eastern Daily Press: “We appreciate the time and effort that has gone into the alternative plans presented by [the] steering group and understand their passion for the museum's future.

“However, the plans they have developed don't reflect the views of all volunteers and they haven't been costed.

“We believe our strategy, which was presented at the annual general meeting, still represents the best outcome for the future of the museum and have already begun to put this into action.”

The John Jarrold Printing Museum opened in 1982 and has moved before within the Jarrold facilities. It is currently staffed by volunteers and opens on Wednesday mornings and four half days during the annual Heritage Weekend in September.

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.

See the new issue of PrintWeek, out today, for our feature on preserving print's heritage through museums.

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