G. D. Bowes and Sons Ltd

The extensive business of G. D. Bowes and Sons Ltd was started in 1954 by Mr. Dudley Bowes in the former Liberal Club building in Watton High Street. Two years later the business transferred to new premises on the Brandon Road.

During the next 25 years the business expanded from killing less than 1,000 pigs per week, and selling whole pigs mainly to Smithfield Market, to killing over 6,000 pigs per week, more than half of which were cut and prepared for National Supermarket Chains and meat manufacturers. In the late 1970's it was decided to modernise the plant to E.E.C. Standards, enabling the company to trade worldwide. At this time the company employed a total of 280 staff on their Brandon Road premises and pig producing units.

In November 1984 a disastrous fire destroyed most of the factory, which is now being completely rebuilt. During the rebuilding programme the company will be taking advantage of the latest technology in the meat trade and this will enable them to expand their existing markets and further develop worldwide trade. The present directors are Mr Ashley Bowes, Mr. Kevin Bowes and Mrs F. M. Bowes.

G. D. Bowes & Sons, Ltd.,"Breckland Butchers", complex before it was destroyed by fire.

No mention of the new industrial estates in Watton can be made without the name of Poll Withey springing to mind. When this Double Glazing firm, who only a few years ago were making windows in an old chicken shed, decided to purchase a 3 acre site on the Threxton Industrial Estate at Watton and build a 22,000 $q. foot factory and office complex, no one could have visualised that within a year or so they would not only make themselves, but also the town of Watton, a household name all over the world.

On 20th July 1984, a whirling Red Helicopter of the Queen's Flight whisked one of their V.I.P. customers in for an hours tour of their Watton factory. Poll and Withey had recently received an order from Princess Margaret to make a dozen Double Glazed Windows for her Kensington Palace Home. After installing them they invited her to visit their new 10,000 sq. foot extension which she ac­ cepted. The Princess winced in the glass cutting room as a screeching saw set her teeth on edge, but despite this she was very impressed with the neatness of the factory and the quality of the staff. In October 1983 the firm took advantage of sponsoring Norwich City Football Club and when they won the Milk Cup Final at Wembley on March 24th 1985 the game was televised over most of the world and the name of Poll and Withey of Watton, was seen blazed across their jerseys by millions of viewers. The following evening the team and officials made a tour of the City in Abel's open-topped bus before attending a civic reception at the City Hall. This enabled millions more television viewers, to see Watton well and truly put on the map by these two most enterprising Watton firms.

In contrast to Poll and Withey's large factory, there are a number of small units available to anyone starting a business, and 3 months ago the Watton Tool and Hire Centre, who started in a small shop beside the brewery two years ago, moved into one of these units. Here the father and son business is expanding so fast that they are already outgrowing their new premises and their success is sure to encourage others of the many advantages of starting a business in Watton.

Following the death of John Partridge, his house and meadows on the Dereham Road were pur­ chased by Billy Friend and during the next twenty years he built up one of the largest scrap mer­chants businesses in East Anglia. Like some other businesses in the town, it became so large that he had to move to a larger site on the Griston Road industrial estate about fifteen years ago. From the time he left school, his son Paul assisted his father in running the business and upon his father's death ten years ago; Paul continued to manage it until it was sold about a year ago.

On the Dereham Road the stables and hayloft of the former "Live and Let Live" Inn were converted into workshops by the Weatherhill Bros., David and Paul, in 1981, later to be joined by younger brother Mark. Here they make Tents, Marquees, Awnings and Covers etc., and in 1983 they won the contract to recover the whole of the Norwich Market Stalls. Over 250 were supplied in yellow, white, red, blue and orange to create a most colourful spectacle in the city centre.

Princess Margaret, escorted by Timothy Colman, Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, visiting Poll and Withey's factory at Watton on July 20th, 1984.

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