Catalogue ReferenceR/D127
TitleRecords of A E Watson & Son of Minster Street, Reading, china and glass dealers
Date1861-n.d. [c.1898]
RepositoryBerkshire Record Office (code: GB 005)
LevelSub-Sub-Fonds
Extent4 vols, 5 bdls, 7 docs
Admin HistoryThe business’s origins were in Salisbury, where Alfred Watson was a china dealer. He established a subsidiary shop in 15 Minster Street, Reading, at an unknown date, and in 1868 appointed Arthur Watson as manager of the same. The shop is first shown in local directories in 1869, as Alfred Watson, china and glass merchant, at 15 Minster Street, and also in Salisbury. By 1876 the firm was known as Watson Brothers, and had additional shops at 1 Butter Market and in London Street (the former still in existence in 1883 but gone by 1887 and the latter having disappeared by 1883). The Salisbury shop, which occupied a medieval building called the Hall of John Halle restored by Pugin in 1834 (used as a china shop under the previous ownership of Sampson Page since 1836), was still in existence in 1889. By 1899 the shop had expanded and took up nos 13 and 14 as well, and also dealt in earthenware. It was still known as Watson Brothers in 1907, but by 1911 it was Watson & Son. By 1954 it was A E Watson & Son (Reading) Ltd, the Salisbury shop having closed before 1931 when the building was converted into a cinema. The Reading shop was still open in 1964, when these records were given to Reading Borough, but closed shortly thereafter, and by 1966 the premises were occupied by Wellsteeds department store’s china and carpet departments.

Customers were mostly in Berkshire, but some were from other parishes in Berkshire, north Hampshire, Surrey, and south Oxfordshire. A number of wealthy landowners purchased china, glass and earthenware from Watson’s. The firm also carried out repairs.
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