Since we established Dipples, many changes have taken place; there have been four kings and two queens, two world wars and numerous changes in society. Over that time, we have always called ourselves a family jeweller’s. In fact, Rodney Ellis, the current chairman and great-grandson to the founder Mr G H Dipple, has prided himself in continuing to maintain the ethos of the business, by serving the community, through the generations. We often serve the children who are buying gifts for the parents and grandparents who would have bought their engagement rings and wedding rings, at Dipples.
As far as the historical records, of the business, are concerned. Many have been lost through moving from the original premises, in Woodford, then to Ipswich, until eventually settling in Norwich, in around 1895. Our earliest document, in our possession, dates from early September 1878; it is an advert, placed in a local newspaper, recommending customers to try the ‘wares’ supplied by the new owner. We know that the business moved sometime after 1881, as the census does not list it. The store then moved to Norwich, after a short stay in Ipswich. Originally, the Norwich store was, just, 2 Swan Lane. However, the son of Mr G H Dipple married the girl next door and, in the early 1900’s, the business expanded into 2-4 Swan Lane. During the 1950’s, the business expanded, again, and moved into the adjacent premises, which is as it stands today; 2-6 Swan Lane.
This is not the whole story, however. Rodney Ellis, the great-grandson of Mr G H Dipple, had set up his own, very successful, jewellery business in Dereham. Many will remember it as Ellis Jewellers. However, With the death of the founders grand-daughter, Mrs Betty Lee-Smith, the business passed to her son and daughter, Rodney and Wendy, who subsequently sold her share to her brother. The two businesses were merged and became Dipples. Rodney’s wife continued to manage the Dereham store, which was expanded in the 1980’s, while Rodney took charge of the Norwich store.
It was during the 1990’s, that the fifth generation, Rodney’s son, came into the business as a 16 year old, working on a Saturday, eventually increasing time and experience to become the Managing Director. His son is only 11 years old. Only time will tell if he continues in the family business.
Rumour has it that there was a clause that was added to the deeds of the business when the founders son joined, that read something like……..’The father may do as much, or as little, as he wishes, while the son is bound in severe terms of those days to give himself wholeheartedly, soberly and industriously, at all times, to the efficient conduct of the shop’s affairs’. Curiously, the document has been lost, over time!
Many people ring us in the hope of speaking to Dipple and Conway opticians and ask ‘can you transfer the call’? Dipple is an unusual name and yes, there was a connection. Mr G W Dipple embarked on a second business, in 1920, and joined forces with Mr Conway, shortly after. Over many years, it has changed hands and no longer has any connections with Dipples Jewellers, although it retains the name, and is now wholly owned by the Conway family.
As with many areas of life, progression and advancement has made certain jobs redundant. When mechanical clocks were in abundance, before the advent of quartz clocks, Dipples was selected as the Jewellers to maintain the clocks at the Norfolk and Norwich hospital, on St Stephens Street. This was no easy task! A member of staff spent every Tuesday morning making sure that every single clock was wound up and working correctly!
After surviving two world wars, there was another event, in our neighbour’s history, that many people will remember; namely the fire in 1970. It originated in Garlands Department store (now Cosmo’s). Fortunately, for them, we were able to move all customers records and the store’s inventory into an Estate Agent, that was, opposite. We formed a human chain to transfer everything they could, before the fire destroyed it. Two police officers were dispatched to watch over the premises, during the night. The following day, when the “all clear” was given, all the items and records were transferred back. The store was tidied and ready to open, on the following Monday morning, when we# opened for business, as usual.
More recently, both Dipples stores have had re-fits, with the Norwich store having a complete re-fit in 2010 and the Dereham store having a minor one in 2014. The upgrade, in both stores, has meant better lighting so that we are able to, better, showcase our fantastic collections and ranges, for customers to browse and choose from. It was long overdue, as Norwich had not had a proper re-fit since 1920. A lot has changed since then, but we wanted to keep the feel of the shop as personable as it has always been, but with the modern tools to improve the shopping experience. We hope that you agree that the store has seen an evolution, rather than a revolution.
Our stores, in Norwich and Dereham, now carry one of the largest selections of watches, jewellery and gifts in East Anglia. We are now embarking making our newest venture, our website, as comprehensive as our stores, whilst trying to maintain the same excellent level of customer service. We have recently embraced 21st century technology and have the facility for Click and Collect, and also video conferencing.
We look forward to the future, knowing where we have been and the long path we have trodden. We do not look back, although we give a nod to the past as experience has taught us a lot, through the generations.