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Over 100 years of creating the finest unisex British made workwear

When Yarmouth Oilskins first began making garments workwear was, simply that, workwear. But over 100 years on and the unisex utilitarian style can be seen as anything but workwear. Now the style is synonymous with hardwearing functional clothes that is at ease in the workshop as it is picking up the kids.

In 1898 Johnson and Sons, as it was Yarmouth Oilskins was previously known, became a limited company. Within three days four of the partners joined forces with other local businessmen to form Yarmouth Stores Ltd. The object of the new Ltd company were “To carry on business as retail outfitters, clothiers, hosiers, shoes, oils, waterproof clothing of every description, drapery, knitwear, goods of all kinds”. Being on the Norfolk coast the fishing industry was its main custom.

All the waterproof and protective clothing ranges were relabelled “Yarmouth Stores” and the company went on to export oilskins, knitwear and clothing to markets throughout the world. The company opened stores in ports right across the UK and before the Second World War employed more than 1200 people, the majority of them machinists making overalls, uniforms, smocks and other workwear in their factories in Great Yarmouth.

In the heyday of the herring fishing industry, Yarmouth Stores would stay open until 11 o'clock at night when the Scottish girls arrived to kit themselves out ready for their arduous task of sorting, gutting and packing the herring that had been the days catch. Oilskin skirts, aprons and boots were essential for the messy work. Between the 1930's and the 1950's Yarmouth Stores struggled as many companies did, the war had taken its toll. The fishing industry declined dramatically throughout the World Wars. Whilst the company focussed on manufacturing for the war effort. But during that period many of the stores across Britain closed, never to be re-opened.

In the 1960's gas was discovered off the Norfolk coast and a new industry grew rapidly. Yarmouth Stores was quick to respond supply the vessels and crews in Great Yarmouth with chandlery, equipment, chemicals and clothing.

In modern times Yarmouth Oilskins has responded to a rapidly changing market yet remains true to its heritage. They currently employ 20 skilled machinists in the factory whose skills encompass all aspects of garment production. Working closely with Great Yarmouth College. Whose students draw inspiration from our iconic pieces used to create contemporary design ideas. Whilst learning the traditional skills of the garment manufacturing industry and continues to ensure Yarmouth Oilskins products are “sold throughout the world”.

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