File AUD 19/2/4 - Interview of Gordon Berry by unnamed interviewer, part 1 of 2

Identity area

Reference code

AUD 19/2/4


Interview of Gordon Berry by unnamed interviewer, part 1 of 2


  • 8 Aug 2002 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1 audio CD (TDK CD-R).

Context area

Name of creator

(? 1814-?)

Administrative history

This silk manufacturing company was begun at Norwich in the opening years of the 19th century by the brothers George and Joseph Grout, the inventors of 'Norwich crape'. About 1814 the Yarmouth factory was established. 1,100 hands were employed there in 1838 and about 1,000 in 1907. At various times during the 19th century the Company possessed, besides the Norwich and Yarmouth factories and a London warehouse, plant at North Walsham and Ditchingham in Norfolk, Bungay and Mildenhall in Suffolk, Saffron Walden, Bocking and Sible Hedingham in Essex, Ponders End, Enfield, Middlesex, and at Manchester, Glasgow and Paisley. In 1819-1820 a reeling establishment was set up at Bhartiparra near Calcutta. Following a financial crisis in 1890 the Company was concentrated at Yarmouth and the other factories were closed. At the same time a Limited Company was formed. In 1923-1924 a Subsidiary was established at St Catharine's, Ontario, and duplicates of its minutes and other records are preserved with those of the parent company (see Y/D 50/248-377). From the 1920s onwards the company concentrated on the manufacture of crepe bandages.

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Content and structure area

Scope and content

Subjects covered include: Clothing, First World War, Industry, Second World War, Shops and Working Life. Places mentioned include Yarmouth, Norwich and Leek.

00:00-05:00 - Gordon Berry (hereafter GB) describes his first job at a fabric mill (Grouts) in 1927. There are some disruptions to the recording. He mentions black silk mourning crepe and Victorian mourning traditions. He lists the different departments at the factory in 1927.

05:01-10:00 - GB continues listing the different departments at the factory, mentioning which stores they supplied. He describes his job role. He mentions women leaving their jobs after marriage. The interviewer asks about wages and MB provides his and his wife's wages in 1939.

10:01-15:00 - GB continues talking about different wages and job roles in the textile industry. He describes how his career continued, and tells an anecdote about a long employed cleaner. He mentions the expansion of the company. The interviewer asks about bandages, and GB searches his notes.

15:01-20:00 - GB and the interviewer discuss the bandages. The interviewer asks what happened at the outbreak of the Second World War. GB describes his promotion at the factory in approximately 1935, then continues describing bandages. He describes the fabric making process of Grouts, mentioning Norwich and Ponders End. He describes their application for bankruptcy in 1894, and purchase by local Yarmouth companies.

20:01-25:00 - GB explains Grouts' transition to a limited company and the transition from mourning crepe to bandages in 1922. He describes how the bandages were made, and Grouts' purchase of the Norwich crepe company. He mentions a letter from the air ministry in 1931 about parachute fabric. He describes the manufacture of parachutes at that time.

25:01-30:00 - GB describes an American competition to design the freefall parachute, mentioning Leslie Irvin and his 1919 parachute. He explains the British government's attempts to establish a parachute manufacture industry, mentioning Irving Air Chute Company, Letchworth and Bocking. He describes the fabric specifications.

30:01-35:00 - GB explains how the factories made their cloth distinguishable. They discuss parachute silk, mentioning raised production during the Second World War and fabric defects. He describes a contract with Barkers of Kensington to make women's underwear from defective parachute silk.

35:01-40:00 - GB describes how the factory was affected by the start of the Second World War, including government control and change of products. He mentions the fear of invasion of East Anglia, and the mill's partial relocation.

40:01-45:00 - GB continues describing the relocation of some of the mill's production, mentioning Wardle's textiles in Leek, Staffordshire and the relocation of the staff. He mentions his deferment from service, move to Leek, and relocation due to the war.

45:01-50:00 - GB describes where manufacturing took place during the war. The interviewer asks about the length of work, and GB describes how work could be disrupted by air raids. He searches his notes, explains the two different mills in Yarmouth (North and South) and shows the interviewer a painting which they discuss. GB describes the land's change of use from barracks, mentioning Lord Nelson.

50:01-55:00 - GB continues to describe the barracks and nearby properties. He mentions closure of the Norwich mill in 1890, and moving administration to Yarmouth. He describes the south mill's destruction by bomb in 1941, mentioning the loss and rediscovery of documents.

55:01-60:00 - He describes the lack of company documents due to bomb damage. The interviewer asks about MB's time in Leek. MB talks about his evacuation from and return to Yarmouth. He mentions a First World War naval veteran who remained in Leek, describing his relocation to Yarmouth, acquaintance with Flight-Lieutenant Cadbury and appearance in a book on the South Denes air station.

01:00:01-end - MB continues to describe his experiences as an evacuee, mentioning food rationing.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Conditions governing reproduction

Restrictions apply, contact Norfolk Record Office staff for details. The Norfolk Record Office acknowledges the intellectual property rights of those named as contributors to this/these recordings and the rights of those not identified.

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Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

ECopyDuration: 01 hour 01 minutes 43 seconds

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Part of Great Yarmouth Museums MD 3, tracks 1-9 (disc mode - MD (ATRAC); recording mode - LP 4; number of channels - stereo).

Existence and location of copies

Ecopy: scop_001-000677T001V002.wma. SCOP 1/677, SCOP 2/677, SCOP 4/677

Related units of description

For part 2 of interview, see AUD 19/2/5.

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Dates of creation revision deletion

Created 14/11/2006 by Drojd. Modified 15/10/2018 by Droip.


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