18 November 2019 People

Peter Jarrold, 1933-2019

Peter Jarrold, Printer and former Chairman of Jarrold & Sons, passed away peacefully on November 3rd 2019.

Peter Jarrold was born on 20th April 1933, the eldest son of Herbert John Jarrold and Catherine Grace. The family, including his younger brothers Richard and Antony, lived on Cotman Road, Norwich.

Peter and Richard, attended Town Close School, Norwich, which was evacuated to Kirby Lonsdale in Westmoreland, now part of Cumbria, during the war. Antony, too young to be sent away, stayed at home with his parents but when their home was badly damaged in the Blitz attacks of 1942, stayed with his grandmother at Pinebanks, her house in Thorpe St Andrew, Norwich.

The school returned to Norwich in 1944 and Peter went on to Oundle School where he showed his abilities in leadership as head of house and in an all-conquering rugby team, and rowing in the summer. From there he went straight into his National Service, gaining a Commission in the Royal Engineers, and a posting to the Suez Canal zone in Egypt.

With his military service completed Peter went up to Queens’ College, Cambridge, his father's old college, where he gained a BA (Honours) in Economics, and enjoyed sport including trials for the University rugby team.

While considering his next move, which, with typically disarming candour, he would later describe as ‘possibly sailing around the world or something’ Peter received a pointed directive from his father, the legendary printer John Jarrold. The message was quite clear. ‘Peter, it’s about time you started working. I’ve arranged with a printer in Switzerland to take you on for six months.’ On his way to Switzerland, Peter spent a short time studying book binding with the Fikentscher Buchbinderei in Darmstadt; his father had studied at their bookbindery in Leipzig a generation earlier.

Peter's time in Switzerland would prove fortuitous for a number of reasons. The country was recognised as home of the highest world quality colour reproduction and print, and also producers of some of the best printing equipment. Peter enjoyed his training and it was the start of a lifelong involvement and love of print for him. Over Christmas 1956 he went skiing in Engelberg. Staying at the same hotel, with his family, was George Pollard, a partner at Price Waterhouse in Switzerland. His daughter Juliet and Peter married two years later.

Peter returned to Norwich to the long-established family print business. His father John was a pioneer of new technology and had gained the company a reputation as the leading UK colour printer, but its expansion required additional management. Appointed Manager by his father Peter soon increased what, by his own admission, was limited experience, and provided drive and management skills for an expanding and prosperous business. With the help of committed staff, he began to build the next generation of Jarrold Printing.

Over the next four decades Peter was to become the leader of the family and the team that established Jarrold as a printer with a worldwide reputation for developments in complex binding, colour reproduction and high-quality offset lithography printing at its factory in Cowgate Norwich. Under Peter, the printing business expanded to in excess of 1,000 employees. The move out of letterpress, into litho printing, and the associated prepress photo-stages and plate-making, were all well managed and with ever increasing market expansion.

In Peter's time, the Jarrold bindery was among the largest in the UK; one of only three in the 60's and 70's with the ability to bind the enormous mail order catalogues of the time. The nature of the equipment and the skills of the staff gained the company recognition for production of the highest quality books such as Thames and Hudson art books.

The quality and competitive nature of the business would result in Jarrold book publishing customers sending over 30% of Jarrold output to the USA. Also in the 60's and 70's, in an era when most holidays were taken in this country, Jarrold took the photographs, designed and printed the holiday brochures for every major holiday resort in the UK. Then, markets changed; production of the fine 'coffee table' books moved to Italy, Spain and the Far East, and increasingly, the UK population took holidays overseas. Print orders from UK resorts declined, so Jarrold successfully adapted to producing part-works, catalogues and magazines such as Good Housekeeping and later Vogue. Sheet fed print production moved to web offset; competitive for longer print runs between 100,000 and 1 million copies.

Printing equipment increased in size and complexity and became ever more expensive. To stay competitive, the business continued to reinvest in the latest print technologies, with Peter always taking a keen interest in new developments. At the same time, the business invested in additional buildings and space at its central Norwich site to accommodate the larger print operation.

John Jarrold died in 1979 and Peter became chairman of the company, with the four divisions of Printing, under a new Managing Director, Retail and Office Equipment run by his brother Richard, and Publishing by his brother Antony.

Between then and his retirement in 1999, Peter achieved much more. He was head of the company; with six generations of history in printing and retail, through a time of rapid expansion and significant industry and market changes.

Like his father before him, Peter, was President of both the British Printing Industries Federation, and the Institute of Printing. In 1997 he was made Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers. In his role as printing adviser to the Bank of England he had been consulted about the possibility of printing the Euro. He was a supportive and engaged member of Euroffset, a network comprising Europe’s largest independent offset printers.

Peter was actively involved in the Norwich community. He was Vice President of Age Concern, a Trustee of the Great Hospital, Trustee of Norfolk Historic Churches, Chairman of the East Anglian Business Environment Club, and in the continuing tradition of his family predecessors, President of the local Liberal Association. He was also a Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Norfolk. In the year of his retirement,1999 - 2000 he would serve as Sheriff of Norwich, a post that both his father and great uncle William had occupied.

Peter was a Trustee of the John Jarrold Trust for over 50 years and continuing a long tradition of Jarrold philanthropy he campaigned for, among other things, good provision for people with learning difficulties.

He founded the John Jarrold Print Museum in memory of his father in 1982. It was originally located in the crypt of the former medieval Carmelite Whitefriars monastery, situated below the book bindery and is soon to move to a nearby church. Peter's objective was to protect artefacts and equipment from the company dating back to the 1800s, and since then, the museum has attracted machinery, equipment, and printed material from many other sources as well as Jarrold. Peter was President, and a frequent and welcome visitor.

In 2012 The Jarrold Bridge was officially opened. Its beautiful award- winning design, sweeping in the shape of a ‘J’ across the River Wensum, is a much-loved contribution to the city. It was a project that Peter had been considering for over 20 years and it now provides a pedestrian and cycle link between the north of the city, the cathedral and the city centre.

A great enthusiast and always active, Peter was an avid gardener, keen traveller and loved sport. He enjoyed many sea adventures with family and friends and in 1991 fulfilled an ambition by sailing the Atlantic crossing to the West Indies in his boat the Camilla J. He was also a great champion of contemporary art and Norfolk churches.

In retirement, he enjoyed his frequent visits and friendships through membership of Brancaster Golf Club and the Garrick Club.
He was a staunch supporter of the business throughout his retirement.

David Hill, chairman of Jarrold, says: “Peter was devoted to the company and everyone involved with it. He was held in the highest esteem by everyone who knew and worked with him. His passing leaves a gap in the commercial, civic and charitable life of Norwich and beyond.”

Peter Jarrold is survived by his wife Juliet, his son Julian, his daughters Susie and Millie, and their families.