• Title
    T P Atton & Son, Watchmakers and Jewellers of Wellingborough Records
  • Reference
  • Accession Number
  • Date
    Early: 1894
    Late: 1973
  • Scope and Content
    Thomas Percy Atton, born on May 1st 1879, was the youngest of seven children of John Thomas Atton, a monument mason from Spalding, Lincs. Having no reason to stay at home, Thomas left Spalding to become an apprentice to Arthur George Sawyer, a watchmaker and jeweller at Ely. He began his apprenticeship on 28th May 1894 and served four years. In 1907, Thomas Atton started up his own business at 22, Mill Road, Wellingborough, mainly making and repairing clocks and watches, although he did some work as an optician. His son, C T Atton was born at this shop in 1909. In 1910/11, the shop moved to 14 Cambridge Street, Wellingborough and finally to 6a Cambridge Street in 1913. In those days the shop sold only necessary items, rather than the luxury goods of jewellers today - that is rings, spoons, knives, forks, clocks and pocket watches. Luxury goods were very hard to sell. In the 1920's, the shop bought some American Community Plate, but were unable to sell it, although later it became very popular. The goods supplied to the shop mainly came from London and Birmingham for jewellery and general goods, and Sheffield for silver plate. The shop windows and showcases were insured with a local co-operative, "The Wellingborough and District Mutual Plate Glass Insurance Association", to which many local firms belonged, all contributing ten shillings a year towards the fund. Mr Atton did all his own accounting and tax returns until 1923, when he decided he ought to have a professional accountant. Mr H H Pollard of H W Pratt, Pollard & Co. became Atton's accountant and remained Mr. C.T. Atton's accountant in 1977. Pollard began as H W Pratt's articled clerk and then became an independant accountant, although still occupying offices at his old firm, now Thornton, Baker & Co., 119 Midland Road, Wellingborough. In 1937, C T Atton entered the business in partnership with his father. Mr Atton Senior had by then given up watch repairing, because of poor eyesight. The younger Mr Atton, who retired in 1973, lived at 49, Doddington Road, Wellingborough. He saw many changes in jewellery fashion - the once popular Mourning Rings worn on the death of relatives or friends; Easter crosses and jewellery gifts enclosed within a decorated Easter egg. The Christmas season brought in three times as much trade as any other month, and wedding rings for Easter weddings were also very popular. The jewellery trade used to suffer during January and February, but was given a boost by the government act which allowed a couple who married just before the end of the tax year to claim a wife's allowance for the previous 12 months. Reliable customers often used to pay for goods on a Journey Account, whereby they were allowed credit on goods, which they would pay for on their next visit to the shop, when they would purchase more goods. The shop used to open in the evening to capture trade from people working long hours. Opening hours were 9am until 7.30pm during the week, 9am until 8pm on Friday and 9am until 9pm on Saturday. Mr T Atton, who did not believe in inside shop window lighting used two outside 250 volt lamps, which were taken in during the summer. Before Mr C T Atton retired, he supplied the token jewel to the retiring chairman of what was then the Wellingborough Urban District Council. On his retirement the shop was sold to Mr. Roberts, an Olney man, who had owned jewellers shops in Wellingborough Road and Gold Street, Northampton. In 1975, he sold the shop to Mr . George, but the name T P Atton, Watchmakers and Jewellers, was still retained.
  • Level of description