Grout's Silk Factory

Photo:Artists Drawing of Grout's Silk Factory, Great Yarmouth

Artists Drawing of Grout's Silk Factory, Great Yarmouth

Great Yarmouth Museums

Photo:Notice showing the wages against peoples ages for male employees at Grout's

Notice showing the wages against peoples ages for male employees at Grout's

Great Yarmouth Museums

Photo:Notice showing the wages against peoples ages for female employees at Grout's

Notice showing the wages against peoples ages for female employees at Grout's

Great Yarmouth Museums

Information about Grout's Silk Factory

By Laura Matthews

Grout's silk factory was established in Great Yarmouth in 1815 and continued to provide employment for many local people until it closed in September 1972.

The mill was originally a barracks until 1814.  The barrack master was Captain Manby, of breeches buoy fame!

The company employed people to weave and print the silk. During World War II they made silk parachutes for the air force.  They used Jacquard looms, which were controlled by punch-cards, an early form of 'computerisation'.

The factory entrance was on St Nicholas Road; the site is now occupied by Sainsbury's supermarket.  The public house opposite, which is now a chinese restauarant, was originally called The Silkmills, and the building behind it, I believe, was used to cultivate the silkmoth caterpillars which produced the silk.


1795        A barracks was built in St Nicholas Rd on the site of a distillery, which was later to become Grouts Silk Factory.

1/7/1801 Nelson again landed at the Jetty and visited the Naval Hospital (later the site of Grouts' Factory.

1806        Grouts' first factory in Yarmouth was established on Northgate St, just inside the Town Wall in an old brewery owned by Mr Lee.

1815          Grouts' Textile Mill was established on the site of the old barracks on St Nicholas Rd, replacing the Northgate St site.

1818         Grouts built a five storey mill costing £7,000 on the new site.

1822         Grouts' Factory was further enlarged.

1823         Grouts' Factory was damaged by fire.

1825         Grouts' Factory was enlarged.

1829         Grouts built their own gasworks on their site off St Nicholas Rd.

5/7/1832 Grout & Co silk factory destroyed by fire, and replaced by a new building (The damage amounted to £12,000 and was uninsured).

1/2/1941 Grouts' Factory was partially destroyed by bombing.

1967         Grout and Co was renamed Pinehurst Textiles Ltd.

Sept 1972  Grouts moved from their St Nicholas Road site.

Aug 1975   Grouts moved into new premises at Harfreys Industrial Estate.

June 1996  Smith & Nephew's bandage making factory closed (formerly Grout & Co).

This page was added by Laura Matthews on 18/06/2007.
Comments about this page

My brother,David Steadman started as an engineer at Grouts and finished up as Chief Engineer,he still has one or two contacts from his work mates. My brother is now over the 80's.

By Ivor Steadman
On 12/05/2008

My mother Irene Joan Lock born 1920 went to work at Grouts as a dyer when she was 14. She later became an invisable mender and I am donating her mending items to The Time and Tide museum.

By Kay Chapman
On 07/11/2008

Does anyone know if any staff records exist for Grouts? My great-grandmother (Harriet Leach/ Baldwin / Davey) worked there in 1911 as did her daughter (Ethel Leach / Baldwin / Davey). Would love to know more.

By Daryll
On 23/02/2009

My grandfather John Dallimore was night watchman at Grouts from about 1918 then was the gate house keeper living in the gatehouse with his family until his death in 1924.
Does anyone have any knowledge of him or pictures.

By Paul Dallimore
On 30/03/2009

Both my Mother and my Aunt worked at Grouts in the 1930s and 40s.Irma and Honor Baker.Do any records of employees still exist?

By Valerie Clare
On 30/11/2009

I believe my family worked at Grouts in 1871, Frederick and Margaret Hewitt. Would appreciate knowing of any employee records also.

By Paul Taylor
On 04/03/2010

I worked at Grout & Company until closure in 1996. I thought all records etc were sent to Norwich Library Archives but I am not sure if these were destroyed when there was a fire in Norwich Library.

By Glynis Barney
On 14/06/2010

Does anyone know what shops if any were in silk mill roadmgreat yarmouth in the past?

By julie reader
On 28/07/2010

My Mum (Molly Terrell) worked at Grout's until 1943 when she left Yarmouth after her mother (Rosa Terrell)was killed as a result of a German bombing raid. She still has the letters of reference provided by Grout's.

By Chris East
On 28/07/2010

Dear Ms Glynis Barney. I have been to Great Yarmouth several times in the 90's and knew Mr Murgatroyd who worked at Grouts. My mother signed an agreement with Grouts to sell the Vic Washing Square, now called Vic Face and Body Cloth. I am her daughter and have a business selling the cloth in the US. It is very popular here. I was hoping to research the Grout records but I was told there were none in the Norwich Library Archives. Could you tell me when the fire occurred? That may explain why there are no records available. Thank you. Monica Burdeshaw

By Monica Burdeshaw
On 29/09/2010

Grout and Bayliss also had a factory in Enfield (see some notes here ). My Great Grandfather worked there and moved to Yarmouth when the Enfield factory closed. His occupation was a "crimper". Anyone know what a crimper was?

By T lloyd
On 15/10/2010

Regarding the post from Mrs. Monica Burdeshaw I remember your mother and father as I worked in the office and getting the "VIC" Face Cloths despatched to Dorr Agency. They used to be in great demand. I remember they used to be packed in Plastic Bags. I think the fire happened in 1994. I will try and find out more, Smith and Nephew Limited were the Company that took us over and eventually closed Grouts so I don't know if they have anything. There is also a museum in Great Yarmouth called Time and Tide they have a big display on Grouts I went there, they had the portrait of Joseph Grout that used to be on the landing of our offices so I don't know if they could help. Sorry I have only just gone back into the Grouts website. Hope this helps, nice to hear from people who I remember so well. Thank you

By Glynis Barney
On 21/01/2011

A distant relative William Crick,born in 1806,worked at Grout's Yarmouth in the early 1830's. At 1841 and 1851 Censi he was the "Superintendent in charge of Factory" at Grout's Ditchingham and is listed in Whites Directory of 1845 as "Manager,Grout's Silk Mill". Several of his family members also worked at Grout's.

By Barrie Jonas
On 19/04/2011

I have tried to use the Grout records for my research and although many do still exist at the Norwich record office, there are no employment records from the 1800s still in existence. There are also few records relating to the nineteenth century in terms of employment which makes tracing workers at the factory next to impossible which is a huge disappointment. Does anybody know if the Ditchingham records are held separately anywhere, or if they went with the others from Great Yarmouth?

By Amanda Wilkinson
On 03/05/2011

My Great-Great grandfather, Robert Fuller was a silk weaving master at Grouts from about 1815 until he died in 1877, I found an obituary in a Greatt Yarmouth newspaper which stated that he spent all his working life at Grouts. He was born in Braintree c. 1800 but during the 10 years I have been doing my family history I have not been able to find his baptism or indeed who his parents were. If anyone can shed some light on him I would be grateful. I don't think there are any Fullers of my family left in Great Yarmouth, if there are, please get in touch.

By June Lawrence
On 05/08/2011

My mother Ethel and her twin sister Gladys Fish worked for the factory before the second world war. Also my Grandad Edward (Ted) Fish worked there for many years (we believe in the dye house.)
They family lived in the factory yard - and the twins were born there.
They were moved by Grouts to Leek/Cheddleton during the war where I believe my mother worked on parachutes.
Her sister Gladys was called up during the war but on return to Great Yarmouth she later returned to work at Grouts with her husband Eddie Boulton. She retired at 60 and Eddie continued to work there until the factory closed.
Grandad also returned to the Yarmouth factory after the war and also did the gardening/odd jobs for Mr Elton the factory manager??
if anyone knew of them or has any information about their time there we would be pleased to hear from you.

By Sheila Gilson
On 11/08/2011

I am currently in the process of writing a book on my grandmother's life.  She is 101 and a half and was born at factory house, where the now current Sainsburys in Great Yarmouth stands.  Her name would of been Evelyn Hubbard.  Does anyone have any information on Grouts Factory or have any memories which could help me please.  She remembers being taken to feed the silk worms which were there as a small child.  Thank you.

By Alison1 Frosdick
On 19/12/2011

I am doing my family tree and have been looking into my grand father’s side and I find that his mother Gertrude Westgate was a silk weaver. I Googled silk weavers of Great Yarmouth and this site popped up and there was a large bit about the silk factory in Great Yarmouth, so I am hedging my bets to see if there is any person can fill me in on the background. I have also found out that my Mother was a weaver in Grouts before she married my dad her name was Doris Westgate; she would have been in the factory around the late 40s to mid late 50s. She married in 1956 at St Peters near the top of Nottingham Way if memory is right this is now the Greek Church? The family lived in the prefabs over at Gorleston they moved to the flats facing the quay at the bottom of Nottingham Way in the late 50s as I have pictures of my christening outside the entrance to the flats. I was also told the Jimmy Clitherow stayed on Nottingham Way when he was playing at the top of Regent Road on the pier; remember seeing him when Nan had tickets from Erie Electronics.

By Douglas Ollett
On 13/11/2012

My mother was born in 1929. She spent her school summer holidays in Great Yarmouth staying at 7 Ormond Road with her Grandma and Grandad (Daniel Chedlow and Emily Chedlow) Daniel was Chief Engineer at Grout's silk factory until his retirement. Their children were Elisabeth (Chissie), Albert, Ethel (who married Percy Alcock who was the stationmaster on the Norwich line - we think Acle), Annetta ( mum's mum and my grandma)

By stella Davis
On 24/05/2013

My mother and her sister both worked at Grouts between 1915 and 1930. I do not know what their work consisted of and would be pleased for any information. My mother's name was Dorothy Claxton and her sister Nellie Claxton regards, Brenda Ryalls

By brenda jane ryalls
On 11/09/2013

My grandfather was the manager of Grouts in the 19202- 1940s, and I gave a wonderful leather-bound book with the names of all the workers there which he was presented with in ? when he retired? to the library in Great Yarmouth in about 1985. All the staff working at Grouts signed it, and it listed where they worked, what they did. Hope this is helpful

By Judith Anthony
On 04/10/2013

Dear Sheila Gilson, I do indeed remember your grandfather, Mr Fish, who was a lovely man, and did odd jobs for my grandfather, who had been the manager at Grouts. I was very young at the time, and came to Gorleston on holiday to stay with my grandparents, Percy and Dorothy Elton. I have very little further information about him, but you are welcome to contact me.

By Judith Anthony
On 04/10/2013

My Aunt Ethel Hale lived in 40 Belfort Place -husband Charles - from early 1900s until about 1955. Aunt got moved out cos of the flooding effect in 1953. Belfort Place being alongside the silk factory. Her friend was Mrs Bessie Ives of 33 Belfort Place. Our family had holidays with Aunt Ethel just after the war - how much we loved it there. I did take a few photos of the road in the 70s- and a few more just before the bulldozers came in. Aunt Ethel passed away about 1982 - I have a cine film of her sitting in her armchair. We had numerous holidays in Yarmouth - including owning our caravan in Elm Beach Caister- right through until 2006- these days we just have the odd day out in Yarmouth.

By Bob Randall
On 20/01/2014

I am a descendant of the original Grout Brothers Joseph and George through their brother Thomas. All were born in Puckeridge, Herts to Phillip Grout and Sarah Brown. I knew of Joseph and the Enfield Crape Mill but knew nothing of this Yarmouth Mill. It has made fascinating reading for me, especially the stories of people who worked for the Company under its different owners.

By Jenny Reid
On 23/10/2015

My grandmother Lucy Reeve, sometimes known as Becky, lived at 47 Belfort Place and my Mother Hilda worked at the silk factory sometime before 1942 when I was born.  I lived with my grandmother for the duration of the war and I remember a lady called Mrs Fish who was a friend of my grandmother. She was also a fire warden. 

By Carol White
On 12/06/2016

I was interested to read the comment by Carol White about her Grandmother who lived at 47 Belfort Place, as MY Grandmother Lydia (also known as Lily) Flowers (nee Hewitt) also lived at 47 Belfort Place for many years. I was born there.  Eventually my Grandmother was relocated to a flat on Hertford Way in Gorleston in the 1960's. She had been a silk weaver at Grouts and was in charge of eight looms. My mum Alma Topping (nee Flowers) who was born in 1920 also worked at Grouts from the age of 14, in the bandage wrapping department. She was very skilled. When the manager had visitors to the factory and showed them around he would always single out my mum to give them a demonstration as she was the quickest and neatest. l believe the bandages were sold to Boots and various other chemists. There is a display of bandages at the Time and Tide museum in Great Yarmouth. During the war my mum was sent to Leek in Staffordshire to the ATS Clerks School, then returned to work at Grouts until she married in 1953. My Great Aunt Sarah Knights who died in the late 1960's, also worked at Grouts for many years. l believe she was a cleaner.

By Valerie Topping
On 04/02/2018

Hello, I'd like to revive the VIC Washing Square, originally made by Grouts.  If anyone has information about how to reproduce the fabric or who might have that information, I'd love to hear about it.  Ms. Glynis Barney posted a comment about this a few years back, so if you have any info on how to contact her, I'd appreciate it.  Thank you.

By Beverly Gibson
On 04/02/2018

My Nannie worked here, Alice Eliza barber (after marrying). Not sure of her maiden name. Born 1916 March 5th. Would love to hear if anyone knew my nan, thanks .

By Tracy Barber
On 04/02/2018

Fascinating article. Thank you for sharing the informaton. 

By Helen Baggott
On 08/04/2019

Does anybody know what the connection was between G L Nicholson Ltd. successors to W Rollingshaw & Grouts please?

By Pino Lombardi
On 22/07/2020

My grandad Robert (or Bob) Hilton was noted as a silk Dyer at Grouts in Yarmouth on his death certificate in 1956.  My late aunt June told me the whole family were also relocated to Leek in Staffordshire during the war but didn't  know why or exactly when.  My grandad died of carcinoma of the right lung, which I suspect may have been down to the dyes, maybe.  I would love to know more of the move to Leek if anyone knows anything, they did move back to yarmouth at the end of the war.

By Andrew Hilton
On 01/01/2021

My Great great grandmother Caroline Fish and her sister Mahlia both worked as 'Swift girls" in the 1850s.  I think her daughter Ada might have worked here too in the 1890s.

By Amanda Gay
On 26/01/2021

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