Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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W. A. P. Watson

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of 36 Northampton Street, Birmingham. Telephone: Central 3974. Cables: "Exquisite, Birmingham." (1929)

of 9-10 Great Hampton Street, Birmingham, 18. Telephone: Birmingham Central 3974-5. Cables: "Exquisite, Birmingham". (1947)

1914 Walter Archibald Parker Watson was a jeweller who then sold his business to Augustus Harry Power and Clarence Oswald Flint in 1914; they kept the founder’s name, W. A. P. Watson Limited, and changed from a partnership into a limited company.

1915 The company was founded in the jewellery Quarter at Hockley, in Birmingham, a major engineering centre for producing both base and precious metals. With 6 employees, the new business manufactured costume jewellery.

1929 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Patent Identity Address Tags and Initials. Twin Initial; a Patent whereby two initials can be interchanged for Bags, Purses and Wallets. Bag Ornaments in Fancy Enamels and Brilliants. Pouch and Wallet Shields. (Stand No. P.79) Also: Moiré Bands, Earrings, Cuff Links, Real Butterfly Wing Jewellery, Chanel Necklets and other novelties. Birmingham Jewellers' and Silversmiths' Association. (Stand Nos. J.43 and J.54) [1]

Inter-War. Business expanded steadily between the two World Wars and, in 1934, the company moved from Northampton Street to more spacious premises Great Hampton Street, both within the jewellery Quarter. There were now 125 employees. In order to produce crested souvenirs, further premises were also acquired in nearby Mary Street.

Costume jewellery was the main production until the 1970s and Watson’s introduced the Exquisite Jewellery trade name for their range. Eventually, Augustus Power’s sons, Wallis and Jack, joined the business as Joint Managing Directors.

WWII. During the Second World War, the War Department required Watson's to support efforts with the manufacture of small, intricate items for military use.

Post-WWII. At the end of hostilities, production reverted to traditional costume jewellery and souvenir manufacture. Markets expanded and Watson’s reputation for quality and value grew.

1947 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Souvenir Articles, Gilt and Rolled Gold Jewellery, Paste Jewellery, Silver Jewellery. (Olympia, Ground Floor, Stand No. E.1719) [2]

1954 The company moved to a 3-acre (12,000 m2) site in Vulcan Road, Solihull, a few miles south east of Birmingham.

For the next two decades, Watson’s expanded the costume jewellery side of the business.

1970s The company was also the second largest manufacturer of costume jewellery in the UK,(still trading under the Exquisite Jewellery name) until cheap imports obliged it to cease making them. Also at this time, the use of crystals was introduced. The jewellery range was wide and up to 20,000 pieces of costume jewellery were made weekly.

Originally focused on costume jewellery, Watson, widely known and well received in the United Kingdom, changed its concentration to fine metal gift-ware items. Now known as The Watson Group Ltd, the company has been manufacturing metal products in the Birmingham area of England for over eighty years. (02/08)

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