From glass eyes to lighter-than-air sweet treats, here’s a few of our favourite finds in Norwich's Castle/ Arcade district which have stood the test of time!
Image: Dipple & Conway box
One day in 1916, local jewellery shop owner George Dipple advertised for a qualified optician to run his new Opticians on Castle Street. Thomas Conway was appointed, and so Dipple & Conway was born. It went from strength to strength over the years, becoming a well-loved Norwich business that has looked after countless customers over the last 100 years, serving everything from spectacles and contact lenses to glass eyes! The arrival of laser eye surgery in the 90’s could have been seen as a threat to spectacles and the businesses who sold them, but the company harnessed this amazing new procedure and not only offered the service but also support and optical counselling services, before and after the procedure.
To mark its centenary year, Dipple & Conway has launched a new historical exhibition, Now You See It, at the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell, revealing a fascinating insight into the changing world of optometry. The exhibition will be open all this week until Saturday 29 October (with half-term activities for kids during the week too) so catch it whilst it’s there!
Dipple & Conway have evidently struck a chord with the shoppers of Norwich as they continue to remains a successful independent business in the Castle/ Arcade district, despite multi-national opticians who were direct competitors - such as Boots and Specsavers who also moved into Castle Street; customers must really value the customer service and quality they receive at this store.
This is just one of the many successful independent businesses still going strong today in the Castle/ Arcade district, which is currently shortlisted for the fantastic accolade of Great British High Street of the Year (see our blog post about it here).
Image: vintage packaging from Colman's Mustard
Another business that has really stood the test of time is Colman’s Mustard. A family-run business which started in 1814 in Stoke Holy Cross (just 4 miles south of Norwich), the company built a factory in the city in 1858 and subsequently became one of Norwich’s most well-known brands (and, in fact, a brand that’s loved all over the country). Colman’s Mustard became synonymous with Norwich. Today it’s owned by Unilever but its factory continues to be located in Norwich and, until recently, the incredible shop & museum in The Royal Arcade told its legacy – sadly it's closed now!
Macarons & More, also in The Royal Arcade, serves up exquisite sweet treats, including – of course – delicate macarons as well as cakes and baked goods (their white chocolate blondie is a particular winner) using natural ingredients with ingredients sourced locally, wherever possible. You may remember owner Tim Kinnaird as he appeared on the 2010 series of Masterchef, placing as a runner up in the final. He opened the Macarons & More shop in 2013 and hasn’t looked back since!
Image: Ginger on Timberhill
Owned by the Kingsley family, these two boutiques offer designer clothing for ladies and men respectively and perfectly complement each other. Ginger is situated in the pretty Timberhill area of the city and offers beautiful and fashionable ladieswear, whilst Hatters exudes elegance on White Lion Street with its fantastic menswear and suits; both are ideal spots for designer shopping, particularly to browse those brands you might not be able to find elsewhere in Norwich. Couple great fashion with excellent customer service and it’s no wonder they’ve been a firm fixture in Norwich for years!
If you haven't yet, come and explore this lovely area of Norwich (great for early Christmas shopping, too)!