In 2019 the museum became a registered charity (number 1186762) and is now governed by a board of trustees and dedicated to the preservation of historic printing machinery and the advancement of training and education in the history and processes of printing, book binding and allied skills, with special emphasis on the endangered craft of letterpress.
The bulk of the collections are currently in storage, but in 2021 the museum was offered space at the National Trust’s Blickling Estate, a stunning Jacobean house near the market town of Aylsham in Norfolk. Now open once again to the public, the Historic Print Shop.
We are passionate about preserving precious heritage skills and it is our aim to ensure that future generations can learn about the history and processes of hand composition, printing, bookbinding and of the allied skills.
Back in 1823 the Jarrold company moved to Norwich and developed into a thriving printing, stationery, publishing and retail business. As time moved on and printing techniques developed, the company invested in automation and new technologies including photocomposition and photolithographic processes, moving away from the old traditional methods for commercial production.
Fortunately, much of the original equipment was retained and formed the basis of the John Jarrold Printing Museum (JJPM), established through the vision of Peter Jarrold and Mike Fuggle in a 13th century friary crypt (the undercroft and upper room) which was originally part of the Whitefriars monastic site in Norwich, where the printing works had been sited since the early 20th century.
In 1982 the JJPM was officially opened bearing the name of Peter’s father as a fitting tribute to the family’s printing heritage and innovation.
The original JJPM collection formed the nucleus of the now vast collection of printing presses, machinery and metal and wooden type, a functioning bindery and an eclectic archive of printed ephemera and books. Over the years, many other pieces of printing-related equipment were donated to the museum as other printing businesses closed their doors.
The JJPM thrived as a working museum, with many skilled volunteers and apprentice-trained craftsmen operating and demonstrating the equipment to the public on one day each week, while courses and classes were run for students and adults at other times. It also attracted younger active members keen to learn and improve their skills and enjoy using the traditional crafts. It was a popular destination during the annual Heritage Open Days held in September.
When the museum was advised that its existing site would be redeveloped for housing, a group of members and volunteers led the move to establish an independent museum.