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Norwich Heart, Heritage Economic & Regeneration Trust

Colman‘s Connections

Colman's Connections

Colman's Connections is our exciting community research project, which received £37,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), and has helped the city's residents to become Colman's Detectives. The Colman's Connections project focuses on the history of Norwich's mustard workers during the First World War, revealing engaging real-life stories about the firm's employees and how their lives were changed by the conflict.

The exhibition ran at the Forum between 2-13 November, and continues at The Museum of Norwich at The Bridewell from 24 November to 5 March. The book Colman's Connections: The War Years, 1914-1918 is out now.

View the interactive Tiki-Toki timeline of the Colman's war years here.


Exhibition and events

Colman's Connections: The war years, 1914-1918
Monday 2nd – Friday 13th November (Monday – Saturday, 9am-5pm)
The Forum Norwich

An exhibition curated by the Colman's Detectives, a community research group, uncovering stories and real-life experiences of how the Carrow Works factory and its worker's lives were affected by the First World War.

Discover the mustard workers' roles on the front line, the impact of the war on women, families and workers on the home front, and the part Colman's played in the war effort, all unearthed by the Colman's Detectives, and Heritage Heroes from Lakenham School, during the Colman's Connections project.

See authentic medals and original items owned by soldiers and families on display, view a Roll of Honour commemorating mustard workers lost during the conflict, and discover 'Household Hints' collated from wartime copies of Carrow Works Magazine.

The Colman's Detectives have also produced the Colman's Connections booklet, on sale at Colman's Mustard Shop & Museum from 2nd November, and in all good retailers from 5th November. There will be a series of talks, workshops and family activities to accompany the exhibition.


Talks & Workshops:

All talks and workshops take place in the Vernon Castle Room, Norfolk Heritage Centre, 2nd floor, Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library.

Monday 2 November, 2–3pm
Norwich in the First World War
Talk by Neil Story

FREE but booking essential via

Norwich in the First World War is an exploration of the role and significance of the city, and its people during the years 1914-1918, with a special consideration to the profound impact of war and warfare on people on the home front.

Neil Storey is one of the foremost authorities on the military history of the county during the First and Second World Wars and is the author of Norfolk in the Great War and Norfolk Goes to War.

Thursday 5 November, 1.30 – 3.30pm
Discover your First World War ancestors
Workshop by Elizabeth Budd

CANCELLED - unfortunately this workshop has been cancelled due to illness.

Discover how to research your First World War ancestors in this workshop with archive specialist Elizabeth Budd, following a real family through records ranging from censuses to medals to service records.

Get hands-on with useful websites and examples of archives to build the story of these men and find out where to start your own investigations, no matter what your ancestor's service history. The session will last two hours and all participants will go away with a printed guide as well as, we hope, some new skills.

Thursday 5 November, 6 – 7pm
Women before, during and after WWI
Talk by Joy Evitt (Costume & Textile Association)

FREE but booking essential via

In the First World War women took on a wide variety of roles but the outcome of their wartime activities were very similar. They became more independent and developed a new attitude to the way they lived their lives and the clothes they wore. The days of excessive ornamentation, tight corsets and large amounts of fabric were over. The new woman could be seen in public on her own; she participated in sport, drove cars, travelled and worked in a wide variety of jobs.

This talk looks at how the clothes chosen were simpler and were easier to buy or make. The office girl could look as good as the debutante which meant that fashion had finally become more democratic!


Monday 9 November, 1.30 – 4.30pm and Thursday 12th November, 12.30 – 3.30pm
First World War Poetry
Workshop by poet Andy Bennett

£20 - booking essential via

From the early idealism of Rupert Brooke, through the trench-bound horror of Wilfred Owen, to the millions of wives, daughters, and mothers waiting anxiously at home for news, the upheaval of the First World War saw an outpouring of poetry rarely seen in the history of English letters.

Discover this fascinating and moving period of poetic history, and learn poetic skills and techniques to write your very own war sonnet – skills that are as relevant and valuable today as they were a century ago. Please note that the workshop consists of two afternoon sessions and you should be able to attend both.

Thursday 12 November, 6 – 7pm
Conscientious Objection in Norfolk
Talk by Orla Kennelly (Norfolk Record Office)

FREE but booking essential via

A glimpse of conscientious objection in Norfolk during the First World War. We will look at the records of HM Prison Norwich and discuss public attitude to imprisonment for Conscientious Objectors. Discover the letters of Walter Manthorpe, Norwich man, who served time in Norwich, Wormwood Scrubs, Dartmoor and Wakefield Prisons during the war for his pacifism.

Family Activities

Saturday 7 November, 10am – 4pm
Make a Remembrance Poppy
The Atrium

FREE drop-in event

During the First World War, war raged through Europe's heart. Once the conflict was over the poppy was one of the only plants to grow on the otherwise desolate battlefields. To remember all those who were lost, create a remembrance poppy to display somewhere special this year on Remembrance Day. Family activity for all aged 5+.

Sunday 8 November, 12pm and 2.30pm
Fire from the Skies, Guns from the Earth
Family storytelling by Liam Carroll
Express library / Children's Library

FREE drop-in event

An entertaining, informative and provocative story. We follow the fictional adventures of flying ace Biggles, a comic book hero who frequently volunteers for death defying missions, and the real-life anti-war poet Wilfred Owen, who has to slog his way through the mud on the frontline. Ideal for ages 7+.

About the project

Colman's Connections is our exciting community research project, which has received £37,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), and will help the city's residents to become Colman's Detectives. The Colman's Connections project will focus on the history of Norwich's mustard workers during the First World War, revealing engaging real-life stories about the firm's employees and how their lives were changed by the conflict.

The intergenerational community research project will see volunteers becoming Colman's Detectives, researching the First World War history of workers at the Colman's factory, their roles on the front line, the impact of the war on women, families and workers on the Home Front, and the part Colman's played in the war effort.

Five Carrow Recruits © Reproduced courtesy of Unilever. Colman's is a Unilever Trademark

Student sleuths from Lakenham Primary School will investigate their local Colman's connections, potentially uncovering ancestors that may have worked in the nearby Carrow factory during the war. The Detectives will help research and curate a 'pop-up' exhibition, create an interactive digital timeline and produce a booklet about the stories they unearth.

Colman's has an extraordinary story, and has played a significant role in the history of Norwich and its citizens. The company still employs many people and holds a special place in the culture and identity of the city. The Colman's Connections project is a year-long project and is also supported by Norfolk Record Office, Norfolk Library and Information Service, The Forum and Unilever Archives.

Tell us your story!

Did one of your ancestors work for Colman's 100 years ago? Do you have an interesting story to tell about someone who was called up to fight in the First World War that worked at the factory? We'd love to hear your stories as part of this community research project.

Read all about it here, or share your stories by contacting Education Development Officer, Sarah Power at

Latest News:

October 2015: The Detectives have edited the booklet and now the HEART communications team are getting the stories ready for publication with the help of local designer Nina Brown. The booklet is nearly ready for print, and the exhibition is not far behind!

September 2015: The Colman's Detectives have been hard at work editing their research for the final project booklet and exhibition which will take place in November. There's been some difficult decisions to make in terms of what goes in the booklet - so much research and insights into life at Colman's factory during the war, and stories of the people who worked there. But all the research will be available online in a timeline from November onwards, so hopefully the stories uncovered will live another day!

August 2015: The final Colman's Connections exhibition will take place in November, and our team of dedicated Colman's Detectives volunteers are hard at work editing the exhibition content and accompanying booklet. We're delighted that we'll be able to feature the medals and service book of John Warnes, of the Royal Medical Corps, in the exhibition. Our thanks go to his descendants for answering our call for stories. We're also in the process of planning a range of talks, workshops and children's activities to take place during the exhibition. Please check our website to keep up with all the latest news.

9th June 2015: In the penultimate schools session with our fantastic Heritage Heroes, we looked at all the kit a soldier would need for life in the trenches of the First World War. Danoka was in charge of the camera, and Zach was our model for the day. Sergeant Taylor showed us how to put on his kit, including the putties to wrap around the legs and hold the shoelaces and trouser hems in neatly - it was harder than it looked! We also had the chance to handle the trench kit and personal pack that every soldier would need for his time on the WWI front line. 

Our grown-up volunteers are busy writing up all their research from the past months, and so far it's looking amazing! It's already a brilliant achievement in a neglected field, and we can't wait to see the next stages of their hard work.

28th May 2015: Over the past few weeks, Education Officer Sarah Power has been working with a group of 12 Key Stage 2 Heritage Heroes from Lakenham Primary School, exploring the history of Colman's with a particular focus on the Home Front and Factory life during the First World War. They've been working towards an Explore Arts Award and will be producing a wall display. Today some of the Heroes came to see us at The Guildhall, where we explored more of the history of Colman's, took a trip to Colman's Mustard Shop & Museum, and tried on Edwardian costumes!

11th May 2015: It's an exciting time for the Colman's Connections project. Training has continued for our Colman's Detectives with their latest session led by local historian Neil Storey. Preparation is under way for a vibrant schools display, and HEART's Education Officer Sarah Power has made an important visit to the Unilever Archives in Port Sunlight to delve deeper into the history of Colman's during WWI.

April 2015: The Colman's Detectives have begun their training with help from The Forum and the Norfolk Record Office. Training sessions have included oral history interviewing and the use  of primary WWI sources. 

Get the latest updates by following HEART on Facebook and Twitter, or search for #ColmansDetectives on Twitter.

This project is kindly supported by: