The Adcock family has a long history of trading in Watton dating back to 1811, after the family had moved from Norwich.
Samuel Adcock, who was a clockmaker, opened the original shop in Watton in 1811 further down the High Street next to the current Barclays Bank. Samuel’s son George later took over the business and in turn handed it over to two of his sons Ernest and Edmund. They were also watch and clockmakers.
In 1912 Ernest parted company from his brother and moved to 30 High Street (currently occupied by Corals), and established the present Adcock & Sons business which celebrated its centenary in 2012.
In the 1920’s, Ernest was joined in the shop by his oldest son Hubert, who had trained as a jeweller and watchmaker. However, Hubert also had an interest in the “new fangled” world of radio and in the early pioneering days he began to make and sell crystal sets. In 1932 his father was tragically killed in a cycling accident leaving Hubert to run the family business at the age of 27.
The electrical side of the business moved on with the introduction of the “wireless” together with hiring and charging of accumulators to power them, but watches, clocks and jewellery were still the mainstay of the business.
In 1936 a young local lad, by the name of Cyril Woods joined the family firm. One of his first jobs was to help travelling round the villages collecting and returning accumulators as there was no mains electricity. Cyril was called up in 1939 and returned to Adcocks after the war. He later became Service Manager and a Director before retiring in 1987.
During the war, with the great influx of airmen from the newly built RAF Watton, the demand for the wireless grew further still with sets being both sold and rented. In addition the shop diversified in to selling sports goods, gramophone records and a few basic domestic appliances. After the war, Hubert was joined by one of his brothers, George, who had served in the RAF, and was to help develop the electrical side of the business even further.
Television first came on the scene with BBC only sets in the mid 1950’s. Cyril Woods once recalled having boxes of television sets piled up in his and George’s houses to meet the demand as there was no room to store them at the shop.
In 1955 having just left the Army after National Service, Hubert’s son, Michael, joined the business. He had served an apprenticeship with electricity board and then served with the REME in the army, where he became an electrical instructor.
The next twenty years saw tremendous advances in consumer electronics with the advent of colour television to the early days of video.
Mr Hubert Adcock died in 1978, the last jeweller and watchmaker of the Adcock family. In the same year his grandson, Paul, became the first of the fourth generation of the family to join the business.
Later that year the business embarked upon a new venture with selling music, keyboards and electric organs, “under the wing” of Michael Adcock.
Michael’s youngest son Chris joined the business in 1982 and became involved with the running of the newly established video film library. In 1995, Paul and Chris were joined by their middle brother, Mark, who works in the DVD rental shop.
Despite much internal reorganisation the business desperately needed more space. Therefore in 1984 Adcocks expanded in to the adjoining former Kings Chemist shop on the other side of the town clock tower.
In 1987 domestic appliances returned to the showroom. The business had sold domestic appliances up to the 1960’s but then dropped them to make way for colour televisions. Roger Couzens was taken on to manage the new white goods department and with his energy and enthusiasm grew the new domestic appliance to be a major part of the overall business. With the growth of the electrical side of the business, and without a family member who was a jeweller, the jewellery side of the business was sold in 1990.
In 2005 Adcocks embarked upon another major refurbishment to increase the showroom area and ‘open plan’ the store. This was a massive project that took over 18 months to complete. The business survived the tremendous disruption to trading and were very proud of the end result in totally modernising the store.
The company and premises have seen tremendous change over the 100 years of trading. But as markets have changed the business has changed to accommodate and take advantage of these developments.
Whilst the goods have changed and business philosophy has modernised, the fourth generation of Adcocks are still keen to uphold the values of a family business in providing the service to their customers that has kept the family in business for well over 100 years.