Grout & Co was the largest manufacturer of crepe in Britain.
Joseph Grout was a saddle and harness maker from Bocking in Essex. He entered into partnership with his brother George (died 1860) in the early nineteenth century to manufacture “Norwich crepe”, a cheaper imitation of French crepe, at Patteson’s Yard, Magdalen Street, Norwich.
Soon, large mills were established at Lower Westwick Street, Norwich. A silk factory was established at Great Yarmouth in 1814.
By 1837 the firm traded as Grout, Ringer, Martin & Co, following the entrance of George Ringer and William Martin into the firm. By this time the Great Yarmouth factory employed 1,100 workers. 970 workers were employed at Norwich, and 560 at their mills near Bungay in Suffolk.
The Grout brothers became wealthy, and were able to enter into retirement before 1840. The business was continued by William Martin.
Following the death of Martin, the firm was managed by John Brown, Robinson and Hall.
In 1854 the Norwich, Yarmouth and Ditchingham mills constantly employed over 2,000 people. The predominant manufacture was gauze, which was then sent to a factory at Ponder’s End in Enfield, London, to be converted into crepe for mourning purposes.
In 1862 Grout & Co was the largest manufacturer of crepe in Britain. Over 3,000 workers were employed. The principal factory was in Norwich.
In 1883 nearly 1,000 workers were employed at the Great Yarmouth factory.
Crepe went out of fashion, and by 1890 almost all production was exported to Latin countries. That year, production was centralised at Great Yarmouth, and all other factories were closed. The company also expanded into other textiles.
Grout & Co was registered in 1894.
The Great Yarmouth factory employed 1,000 workers in 1907.
By 1921 William Hall was managing director of the firm.
Grout & Co was renamed Pinehurst Textiles in 1967.
In 1994 Smith & Nephew acquired the Great Yarmouth factory, engaged in producing crepe bandages, from Coats Viyella. The Great Yarmouth factory was closed in 1996.