Thorns is a family run business and was established in 1835 by a London merchant named Robert Elliot Thorn. He came to own many properties within the city and noticed there was an opening in the market for an Ironmongers and decided to set up the company. As his sons were not interested in joining the business but rather to answer the call of God as missionaries in Africa, Robert was joined by Charles Fisher'Ishbill and Thomas Paston Senior. The business has remained with the Paston family right up to the present day, since the death of Robert Elliot Thorn.
In 1973, Thomas Paston junior was joined by his Son-in-Law Peter Motts and in 1995 by Peter's daughter Miriam. In 2011 they were joined by Peter's second daughter Emily.
The store has served the needs of Norfolk and beyond, and then, as now, our mission statement still holds true: "To provide outstanding levels of honest, friendly and reliable service, together with great availability and prices."
Thomas Paston Senior the 1st generation of the Paston family to become the co-owner of Thorns.
Claude Paston the father of Thomas Junior was a co-owner of Thorns.
The late Thomas Paston Junior whose drive and determination held the business together through very turbulent times. Thomas was Peter's Father-in-Law and Grandad to Miriam and Emily.
This photograph is of Robert Elliot Thorn with his family and staff. We believe it was probably taken in the late 1800's.
An old appointment card from Robert Elliot Thorn to one of his customers which dates back to 1875.
We just love the style of this old invoice dating back to 1934. Have you got any old Thorns invoices or bags? Did you work at Thorns or have any stories to tell about shopping here in bygone days? If so we would love to hear from you! Why not drop us a line?
Newspaper cutting from the 1960's - showing our front shop - notice that the stairs to gardening do not exist in this picture. The first floor was used as a stock room and office space it wasn't until the seventies that is got converted to the gardening department.
Newspaper cuttings from the 1960's showing our front shop on Exchange Street in Norwich.
Newspaper cuttings from the 1960's showing the tool department.
In 1968 Thorns was seriously damaged by a deliberate explosion that occured in Tony's Place, the cafe next door which is where Brambles now stands today. Unfortunately, the lost floors were never rebuilt as there was moves a foot to clear this section of Exchange Street in connection with road widening. This never took place and the building is as you see it today, in this aspect. The building is and was the end of terrace and took the brunt of the explosion. It was a deliberate act to defraud an insurance company. In 1999 & 2000 additional premises were acquired in Dove Street so that the shop now spans the entire length of Lobster Lane.
A photograph of the front of Thorns in Norwich taken in the 1970's.
This is a logo which was designed by Julie Paston (Miriam and Emily's aunt) and used in the late 1970's and early 1980's. Julie is Thomas Paston's daugther and designed this whilst studying at the Art School.