Chamber through WWII

The outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 posed more trying times for Norfolk industry and commerce. Two Presidents presided over this period: Joseph Worssam of Eastern Counties Omnibus Co. Ltd; and Percy William Jewson of Jewson Ltd.

This period may have seen hardship for some business but others, in particular manufacturing, thrived and gained more work from the pressures of war. 

The sector upon which the war wreaked the most havoc was retail.

Despite heavy bombing from the Luftwaffe, the various department stores in Norwich rallied together under the Chamber network to support each other and keep business alive.

The Directors of leading stores including Bunting’s, Bond’s and Jarrold & Sons were all members of Chamber and indeed had been, or were later, Presidents too.

Buntings, now M&S, was severely damaged by German bomb raids in the Norwich Blitz of 1942. The nearby Curl Brother buildings were completely destroyed, however John Walter Bunting was able to rebuild from the rubble and was used as a NAAFI (Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes) Service club. Due to the extensive damage to the Curls department store, Jarrold & Sons helped the company by offering an entire floor of their own premises on which to continue doing business.

Eric John Sidney Hinde, President of the Norwich Chamber 1955-7, had married Marjorie Bond, the only daughter of Ernest Bond, in 1931. He was captured by the Japanese during WWII and imprisoned as a POW in Singapore from 1942 until the wars end.

While captured, the Bond’s store on All Saint’s Green was heavily bombed and the all buildings were badly affected, parts were completely burned to the ground. Unlike some of its competitors though, Bonds continued to trade by using empty properties elsewhere in Norwich.

On the other hand, manufacturing at Boulton & Paul’s flourished and their importance grew rapidly. They had established a name for themselves in WWI under Chamber President William Henry Ffiske, when they had built the UK’s first all-metal aircraft in 1917.

In total Boulton & Paul had produced around 13 million pounds worth of goods during the war years. However, like many companies they did not escape the Norwich Blitz unscathed and were one of the firms directly targeted by the German Luftwaffe, especially at their hangar on Mousehold Heath.

 

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