Working Lives

Dispatch at Jarrolds (1960s-1980s)

Location: Norwich

Ken talks about working in Jarrolds’ Dispatch Department.

I was born in Caister, Norfolk, and when my father, Robert, a horseman, became foreman of the stables at Colmans, the family moved to Norwich. I went to Lakenham Council School which I enjoyed. I worked for the International Stores as a delivery man but, in about 1962, delivery rounds were stopped and, with the help of Mr Langham, I got a job at Jarrolds. I was living at Harford Street, Norwich at the time. I started when Mr Sabey joined the firm as general manager. He subsequently left to build houses and was succeeded by Mr Bloggs.

My job was in dispatch where I worked until the day I retired. I earned £10 a week when I first started. I enjoyed my time there. It was very varied. One day packing fine china, another day packing chairs, another day rocking horses. Goods were sent all over the world and had to be ready for pick-up by the delivery vans. I was very quick and managers said I was a good packer. Mr Richard couldn’t understand how I could pack so quickly. My normal day was 8.00am to 5.30pm and I went home for lunch. Sometimes I worked on Thursday afternoons (Half Day Closing) and Saturdays. When the education department was especially busy I worked until 8.00pm to pack books for delivery to schools throughout Norfolk and Suffolk.

I worked in dispatch in the basement with Mr Barnard (Barney) and Stanley Alden, the foreman, and David. I had a big bench with large rolls of paper and thick string. The gardening, hardware and china departments were also in the basement.  During my time there were a lot of changes in the store with new departments being built. The old boilers were in the dispatch department where the doors to Bedford Street were kept open. The new gas boilers were upstairs.  In those days there was a lending library on the fourth floor.

Amongst some of my work colleagues I particularly remember John in education, Noel who worked in pens, Mr Becket, the buyer in education, and Neville and Mr Stone in the book department. I could talk to Mr Richard (Jarrold) who was a good listener.

Two events have stayed in my memory. One was seeing a horse and carriage drive down The Walk, and stop in Exchange Street. I believe it was the Lord Mayor celebrating a centenary jubilee. The other event was the fire at Garlands which started in the basement. Garlands was the other side of Little London Street, a narrow lane, and I was told to go up onto the roof of Jarrolds with fire extinguishers and pick up any burning debris blown there in the strong winds. Garlands was destroyed but Jarrolds came to no harm.


Sadly, Ken died shortly after recording his story. His daughter, Myra, sent the following for inclusion. At a later date Dad recalled having to help winch the passenger lift when it got stuck between floors, and helping people out. He also recalled the Wombles arriving at Jarrolds’ record department and taking me to see them, where I had a dance with Orinoco! He loved his time at Jarrolds and was always reliving the happy times. His hobby was growing roses.

Ken Sargent talking to WISEArchive in 2006.

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