Watton Chamber of Trade

The buildings adjoining the car park on the Thetford Road were built circa 1875 for Samuel Short, a baker in the High Street; here he stabled the horse and cart used for his business and also the horse trap used for pleasure. He also had a large "Baker's Oven" built in one of the buildings and this is still there. It was used when his own oven at the bakehouse had to be repaired. This operation was car­ried out every few years and the oven was out of commission for two or three weeks, as repairs could not be started until the oven had completely cooled down which took nearly a week. By arrangement with Mr. Short, the other bakers in the town at that time also used this oven when their own was under repair. Following Mr. Short, the business was taken over by Mr. John Moore and later by his son Donald, who still used the premises for garaging their horse and cart and later the delivery van and a car.

The Watton Town Sign, erected near the town clock, is made of bronze and recalls the legend of the "Babes in the Wood", by depicting two "babes" lying under an oak tree. It was unveiled on June 15th 1959 by two children in the annual carnival dressed as "babes". It was given to the town by the Rotary Club and formally handed over by Mr. F. J. Faulkner and received by Dr. R, D. R. Shanks, the Chairman of the Parish Council, on behalf of the Town.

After working for the Workers' Educational Association for 35 years, 30 of them as secretary of the Watton Branch, Miss Jessie Roberts was appointed President of its Norfolk Federation in 1975, an honour she richly deserved. Her work for the local branch has been particularly valuable and she has been chairman of the Eastern District for a number of years. Joining the Watton branch in 1940 when she moved to the town from Bury St. Edmunds. Only one person has been a Watton W.E.A. member longer, her great friend, Miss Nora Wace, who was a founder member in 1939.

During the past 35 years Watton has had at least four women centurians. Mrs Fanny Smith was 101 on January 2nd 1960; Mrs Elizabeth Chase was 102 on 23rd February 1965. Mrs Fanny Jolly was 104 on January 31st 1969 and Miss Louie Toombs was 100 on December 24th 1982.

Two employees of Lloyd's Bank, Lesley Allum and Alison Suthers, added a spot of glamour to the forces of Law and Order in the town when they became the first ever women to become Special Constables at Watton in January 1980. Also for the first time in its 25 year history Watton Chamber of Trade elected a woman as Chairman in 1980, Mrs Maud Cator.

Ernie Edwards cycled the 60 miles from Hyde Park Corner to Brighton to raise money for the British Heart Foundation when 61 years of age in May 1981. In June 1984 he completed the ride for the fourth time.

Whenever old "Wattonians" speak of the Wayland Show, the name of Sydney George im­mediately springs to mind. For 51 years his unselfish and untiring work as the show secretary was in no small way responsible for its success over the years. Following his retirement as secretary he took on the less arduous position of treasurer for about twelve years, truly a remarkable record.

In 1948 the Society presented a challenge shield for annual competition to Watton Area School. It was to be called "The S.S. George Challenge Shield", and Lord Walsingham the Show President remarked that it would remind future generations of the years of unselfish work Sydney George had put in and something to encourage them to do likewise in their turn.

Twenty years ago the newly formed Watton and District Youth Club, supported by a Parents Com­ mittee, suggested the erection of a temporary building for the Club's activities on what is known as "The Play Piece", in Harvey Street. This led to a more ambitious scheme, the erection of a perma­nent building and in the spring of 1966 plans for a permanent Youth Centre were approved by the Planning Authorities. The next task was that of fund raising. It was ascertained that if £ 600 (a lot of money at this time) could be raised by voluntary effort towards the cost, a grant could be obtained from the Department of Education and Science, providing all the work was done by voluntary labour, with the exception of a few technical items.

Various fund raising events were organised, and with some generous donations, the money was raised and work on the site commenced with great determination. The completion of this project was entirely due to those who gave of their leisure time to build a Centre of which Watton and District could be proud. The centre was officially opened on 21st September 1968 by Dr. F. Lincoln Ralphs, the Chief Education Officer for Norfolk.

The object of the Youth Centre was to help and educate girls and boys through their leisure-time activities so as to develop their physical, mental and spiritual capacities that they may grow to full maturity as individuals and members of society and that their conditions in life may be improved.

An extension of the Sports Hall, Lobby and Gents Toilets was completed in January 1974 and an extension to the Balcony was opened on 11th January 1983.

The Youth Centre building was taken over by Norfolk County Council on 1st April 1975.

Brian Leggett arriving at Saham Toney Church, with Bob Garner and John Adcick helping him off-load the pig
he had carried 1 1\4 miles from Watton abattoir for a £10 bet on October 4th 1959. The pig weighed 2 stone more than Brian.

In the Bar at the "Rose Inn", about 1886.
Second from left G. Long, extreme right R. Moore.

"Rose Inn" completely destroyed by Fire, about 1889.
It was thought a spark from the chimney set fire to the thatched roof.

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