Sack and Bag Companies in Sprowston

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Sack and Bag Companies in Sprowston

Prior to the introduction of firstly paper sacks and then a polythene many commodities were transported in sacks which were produced with specific qualities suitable for the proposed content. As an example of loosely woven potato sack would be useless for transporting flour. Whilst other materials were used the majority of sacks were made of hessian being produced from the fibres of the jute plant the majority of which was grown in India. Originally the jute fibres had been imported and the material woven in this country but this part of the process was gradually taken over by the countries producing the jute. Hessian as the material was known (burlap in the USA) has the advantage being hard wearing but also if wet it can be dried without detrimental effect. Throughout the country they were companies that specialise in producing and recycling the sacks prior to the coming of the single use items that superseded them. In Sprowston there were certainly two companies who undertook this work.

The Norwich Sack and Bag Company

This was certainly the far larger company having a large premises just off School Lane. There seems to be no record of this company prior to the early 20th century so perhaps it was a new venture that set up its works in what had been one of the local brick fields. The fact it ran often double page spread adverts in trade journals give some idea of its size but the text as well as the photograph says much about the company.

“BUYING Department All kinds of empty Bags purchased all the year round. Very best prices given. Consignments sorted and counted by modern machinery (our own patent). Detailed Valuation Note sent with payment. A straightforward deal every time. IMMEDIATE PAYMENT. SELLING Department Sacks and Bags for every purpose by express delivery to any part of England. Repairs, washing and vacuum-cleaning by the latest electric machinery. Huge stocks—keenest prices and guaranteed quality. We supply the largest firms in the country.”

From the above it is quite clear that much of their trade revolved around the purchase of used sacks which were both cleaned and repaired before being sold for reuse, a process that continued until the sacks was life expired. The company amalgamated with the Ipswich Sack and Bag Company during the Second World War and finally in this guise ceased trading in the 1960s.

Fords Sack and Bag Company.

This was a far smaller enterprise that took place in the depression years prior to World War II. From discussions held with one of the Ford family it seems that no new bags were actually produced but it was simply a recycling enterprise. Not a purpose-built factory was the Norwich Sack and Bag this enterprise used the premises known as the Lone Barn which also doubled as a farm premises. They certainly had no electric machinery since there was no electricity anywhere near this premises all cleaning being done by shaking and beating, no doubt repairs being effected by hand as well. From the information we have been given this company ceased trading either during or immediately after the Second World War.