From Behind the Counter: A Shopkeeper's View of Northamptonshire Life over the Last 100 Years by Jane Evans
One of Northampton's best established businesses, celebrating its centenary in 1996, A. Watts & Sons Ltd has been at the heart of the town's life since the inception of their furniture and toy shop. As well as being a history of Watts as a continuing enterprise, this text explores how its founders and successors have taken leading roles in the life and organization of the town and its Methodist congregations. Besides being staunch Methodists, the Watts - and the Harlands who succeeded them - have had various civic roles, with successive heads of the company serving as Mayor, President of the Chamber of Trade, and Justice of the Peace. Local politics and social developments are thus integral to the narrative. The history of the business runs alongside the development of the town centre and reflects the changes in town planning policy and practice. Employees' own accounts reveal what life was like in a shop of this type in bygone days, as the historical relations between retailers, religious leaders and town councils are explored.