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Chamber through WWI
The cumulative effort of the Chamber, its members and its President, Sir George Moore Chamberlin of the eponymous Chamberlin & Sons department store, supported the region’s industry throughout the difficulties faced in WWI.
George Chamberlin was a key leader within both the business community and civic life and occupied a variety of commercial and municipal posts. He was Mayor of Norwich three times, and in that capacity he took the review of the 2nd Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment on their return from Mesopotamia after the First World War. All four of his sons served in the First World War.
With the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 the Chamber’s importance rose suddenly as businesses had to negotiate the requirements of wartime.
The Chamber was the first in the country to call for conscription in 1915, while businesses looked to its help in dealing with lighting restrictions against zeppelin attacks. The restricted opening hours put pressure on business and led to shortages of necessary resources.
Commerce was affected by the loss of markets in territories held by the enemy.
The Chamber was responsible for issuing important Certificates of Origin for those trading with neutral nations so as to ensure British commerce did not indirectly aid the Central Powers.
Chamberlin & Sons itself aided the war effort as it produced vast quantities of waterproof material for use by the army, as well as suits for soldiers in service and after demobilisation. For some years the company had been the sole concessionaires for Great Britain and the Colonies for the manufacture of Pegamoid waterproof clothing. In pre-war days the authorities had subjected this material to a severe test in all climates, and it was held in such high esteem that the Admiralty claimed the bulk of Chamberlin’s output during the war.
The wartime work of Chamberlin & Sons totaled close on one million garments, and they received from the authorities' official recognition of the value of their services to the State in the years of the nation's peril.