A very brief History of Boulton & Paul

Boulton & Paul started in Rose Lane in Norwich in 1864 manufacturing iron items such as stoves and agricultural tools. Their range increased to include wire fencing and cast-iron framed buildings as well as portable (corrugated) iron buildings and wooden buildings used ranging from summerhouses, bungalows and public buildings such as Mission Halls, Club Houses and a Hospital. Many buildings were exported to the British Empire.

During the First World War, much of the Rose Lane site transferred to the site at Riverside. Steel aeroplane manufacture started in 1920 and was moved to Wolverhampton in the mid-1930s. Output of the Buildings Department increased dramatically in the 1920s as post-war reconstruction started, including wooden bungalows, garages for cars, sports pavilions, schools and churches.

The eponymous Boulton Road in Thorpe St Andrew may have become a showroom for their houses.
The manufacture of steel-framed buildings increased in the 1930s, with a lot of work for the war effort in building training camps and factories. The Riverside works were bombed several times. The business closed in 1993 and ultimately became the Riverside Retail Park.

Current Project

The Norfolk Record Office contains an extensive range of  catalogues that B&P issued over the years, which have been analysed by the NHBG Documentary Team, but the all-important sales records locating their buildings on the ground were lost when B&P was bombed during the war, making a comprehensive gazetteer difficult.

Without a large survey team to locate many of the standing buildings, it would not have been easy to locate the buildings on the ground. In addition, the buildings that have survived have been considerably altered over the years making them difficult to recognise. Other companies made similar buildings at the time and the small identifying plaques and differences in decorative features have often been removed, further complicating the work.

The extensive documentary work that has been done is being written up and a short monograph will be published in the future.
Contact nhbgboultonandpaul@btinternet.com for further information.