Hoe and Worthing Archive: The Tannery 


inclosure map

The Tannery appears on the Inclosure map of 1814 as occupied by Samuel Hall, who had been there at least since 1802 when he is recorded in the Norfolk Poll. The house is shown in pink and the tannery buildings in grey.

[Courtesy of Norfolk Record Office C/Sca/2/243]


Norwich Union Insurance Company employees visiting Worthing tannery in September 1894. It is quite likely that the man standing at the right is the then owner, James Phillippo, who bought the business in 1890. We know from the following article that the foreman was John Neale, so that may be him at the left. He is wearing gaiters over his boots to keep his feet dry.

wool theft

June 1891 - theft of wool from the tannery. An attempt was made to implicate Edward Phillippo, the owner's son, in the crime. "Shall I say I bought it of him? The old man won't prosecute his son, and everybody knows the b will do anything for a shilling."

Typhoid in Worthing

James Phillippo was prosecuted in March 1900 for polluting the river and wells in Worthing. The
court report in the local newspaper describes in detail what must have been a particularly unpleasant job and its effects.

court report

Typhoid had been caused by the pollution.

court report

Phillippo's lawyer, E. E. Wild, tries undermining the Medical Officer's evidence.

court report

A familiar argument

court report

Phillippo's neighbour at the mill, Mrs Merrison, was the principal complainant. Wild suggests that the pollution is caused by her negligence in allowing weeds to accumulate, then that she bears a grudge against Phillippo.

court report

The Bench is not persuaded by Wild's argument

court report

The case concluded with a ruling that the boiling house be moved. There was evidently some improvement as there are no further reports in the paper.

court report


In February 1904 the tan yard was under water.

tannery sale
In 1906 the Tannery
, which was mortgaged, was sold. It was bought for 1065 by Philip Chapman who had a tannery and farm at Fakenham.

tannery details

The 1906 sale catalogue lists the tannery equipment.

P D Chapman

Philip Dennis Chapman (1866-1934), farmer, tanner, fellmonger and wool merchant.

P D Chapman

Kelly's Cambridgeshire Norfolk & Suffolk Directory 1933.

E C Chapman    Edmund (Ted) Crowe Chapman (1894-1971)
    succeeded his father running the business and
    lived at the Tannery House in Worthing.

    He was an enthusiastic horseman, huntsman
    and horse breeder and Clerk of the Course at
    Fakenham for twenty years.

John Neal & Alice Chapman    Tannery worker John Neal and Ted Chapman's
    daughter Alice in the Tannery yard.

    Alice Chapman married Peter Gow.


Peter Gow became a director of the business in the early 1930s, when this photograph was taken. Peter Gow and Ted Chapman are in the centre of the middle row, and around them are employees and their spouses, many of them Worthing residents.

In 2009, North Elmham resident Norman Lowe wrote the following account of work at the Tannery.

Lowe text

lowe text 2

wool arriving

Peter Gow took these photographs in the 1930s. Here unsorted fleece is arriving for grading. In the foreground is the weighbridge.

wool loft

wool loft

Wool being sorted.

articulated lorry

Once sorted, the wool was sent to be spun.

chapman hides
                    Norwich St

Chapmans also had premises on Norwich Street in Dereham. This photo from the 1920s shows a display of rolled hides of the sort of thick leather used for bootmaking. The sign reads
Chapman's Worthing Tannage
Local Hides
You have had the meat
We have the hides
The boots will soon be ready
With thanks to Gordon Olley and Robena Brown for use of this photograph.

The tannery closed in the 1940s according to Norman Lowe.

Manning photo

In 1979, the tannery was surveyed by the Norfolk Industrial Archaeology Society. This shows the wool shed from the south side, since converted to Millstream Cottages.

tannery plan    This plan, based on the 1979 survey and
    information from Norman Lowe,
shows the
    various parts of the tannery

  The tan pits and buildings as they appear on the
   Ordnance Survey 25" map of 1883.

tan pits 1883 OS map

Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

tannery chimney

This photo from the 1930s shows, in the background, the boiler-house chimney. The rider is thought to be Malise Bullard.


The Norfolk Industrial Archaeology Society survey includes this drawing of a tramway wagon. Norman Lowe describes how it was used across the overhead tramway between the sheds.


One of the footbridges by the Mill has handrails made of the tramway rails.