About our Anniversary

The Norfolk Chamber has been serving the business community and the region since 1896, during the reign of Queen Victoria. As Victoria is the Great-Great-Grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II, who herself surpassed Victoria as the UK’s longest-reigning monarch last September, this highlights what a very long time that is for an organisation, and something that shouldn’t pass by without celebration.

In order to commemorate this, Chamber tasked research assistant Adam Dean, hired through the UEA’s Undergraduate and Graduate Internship Programme, with the vast assignment of unearthing highlights from 120 years of detailed history taken from a huge range of archives.

Starting his work in June 2015 Adam spent nearly 3 months tirelessly reading through over a century’s worth of meeting notes, press cuttings and articles to discover the changing face of Norfolk business.

The central factor in this work has been exploring the ‘then and now’ aspect of the last 120 years and the legacy Chamber, and Norfolk business, have created and are moving forward with.

The research has uncovered Chamber’s rich history reinforced by the invariable affiliation of the county’s distinguished business leaders and their work within the Chamber.

The Norfolk Chamber is itself a comparatively recent conglomeration of the Norwich Chamber, Great Yarmouth Chamber and West Norfolk Chamber, in order to fully commit to and meet the evolving needs of the Norfolk business community.

The Chamber of Commerce was preceded by the formation of the Norwich Mutual Marine (Insurance) Association in 1843 and later the first Chamber of Commerce in 1847 with the objective to:

“Always be ready to suggest petitions and memorials, whenever needful: would ensure an effective representation of our local necessities: and at all times secure the attention of the authorities to whom it might appeal”.

However, its lifespan was a brief circular formed and dissolved in crises surrounding the expansion of the railway and of cheap food imports. What is notable in comparison to the later Chamber is that the latter overcomes a depression at a similar stage of development, highlighting a story of growth and improvement in the Chamber’s history.

The ‘President’s Board’ was a key tool in starting the research process as it details all past President’s from formation, as well as their term date and any titles held. From this we were able to explore which business each President had worked for, find more information on them and also look at their role within Chamber.

It was immediately apparent the notable figures key in the founding of Chamber, the first President being Jeremiah James Colman.

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