Farewell to historic Colman's factory in Norwich

Workers will leave the historic Colman's factory in Norwich for the final time tonight.

The Carrow site, which has been in production for 165 years and was home to Colman's mustard, will close this evening.

To mark the occasion Unilever, which bought out Colman's, has released a series of images showing the historic site in action.

J & J Colman’s moved to Carrow in 1854 to expand production of the famous mustard which has become synonymous with the city.

The Carrow Works seen from the air in 1922 Credit: Colman's/Unilever

As we mark the last day at our Carrow factory, we would like to thank everyone who worked there for their dedication and fantastic contribution to the Colman’s business over many years in Norwich.

Jon Strachan, VP Supply Chain, Unilever UK & Ireland
Colman's mustard is still one of the world's best known brands Credit: Colman's/Unilever
Making and filling mustard tins 1940 Credit: Unilever

But Colman's connection with Norwich will continue through Unilever's long term partnership with the local growers' consortium Condimentum,

Mustard and mint will continue to be sourced locally and milling will take place at a new factory in the Norwich Food Enterprise Park.

The Colman's packing line Credit: Colman's/Unilever

Having spent nearly 30 years working at the Carrow Site, I’m proud of the passion and commitment my colleagues and team have shown, right up to the very last day. A magnificent site, with magnificent employees, I wish everyone all the very best in their next steps in life. “In a world of constant change, after an amazing 165 years at Carrow, we’re all so pleased that the Colman’s brand stays connected to Norwich through the opening of Condimentum’s new mill, with some of our colleagues now working there and continuing to share their knowledge and expertise.”

Andy Watts, Factory Manager at Unilever’s Carrow Site
Labelling mustard jars in 1960 Credit: Unilever

Following Britvic’s decision to close its Norwich factory on the shared site, Unilever confirmed in March 2018 that it would close its Colman’s factory.

This followed in May 2019, with Unilever announcing a long-term partnership which supported the establishment of Condimentum with an initial 10-year supply agreement and significant capital investment into their new mustard and mint milling facility at the Norfolk Food Enterprise Park at Honingham Thorpe near Norwich, maintaining the area’s link to the Colman’s brand.

Filling mustard jars and tins in 1940 Credit: Unilever
The new mustard milling plant at Honingham Thorpe Credit: Unilever

Condimentum have now fully commissioned the mustard flour milling operation as well as the finished product tin packing line and this week are finalising the commissioning of their new mint processing facility ready for full production next week.

To coincide with the last production of jarred Colman’s mustard at the Norwich factory last July, a farewell lunch was hosted by the Factory Manager to say an official thank you to each employee for their commitment and time in the business, honouring their shared 450 years of service.

The Carrow Works site which will close for the last time on May 22 2020 Credit: Unilever

To mark the occasion, the last ever run of Colman’s mustard jars on the production line replaced the ‘best before’ date with ‘Norwich’s Last. By Its Finest. July 24th, 2019’ and these one of a kind Colman’s mustard jars were gifted to all employees, together with a clock made from Colman’s mustard tins and a painting of the site.

With the Colman’s brand synonymous with the city, early conversations are taking place with Unilever and the Norfolk Museums Service exploring opportunities to work together in expanding the story of Colman’s in Norwich.

A wartime advert for Colman's mustard Credit: Unilever