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The firm of Watsons underwent a number of name changes throughout its history. These help to date instruments, accessories, slides and literature.
Name
Address
Dates
William Watson City Road, Clerkenwell, London 1837 to 1862
313 High Holborn, London 1862 to 1867
W. Watson & Son 313 High Holborn, London 1867 to 1882
W. Watson & Sons 313 High Holborn, London 1882 to 1908
W. Watson & Sons, Ltd 313 High Holborn, London 1908 to 1957
25 West End Lane, Barnet, Hertfordshire (Herts) 1957 to 1970
William Watson (1815-1881) established his company in 1837. The early years of the company had nothing to do with microscopes at all, the first being made in 1876 when his manufactury was at Dyers Buildings, Holborn, situated to the rear of the high street showroom.
By the year 1888 extra capacity was needed and the firm acquired a factory in Fulwood Rents, Holborn. Some years later the popularity and scope of their product range meant that they had to acquire further manufacturing capability and to accomodate this the factory at Barnet was built in 1906. Unfortunately, this burnt to the ground in 1910 and had to be rebuilt. These rebuilt premises were extended in 1936 and subsequently in 1950. By 1957 all Watson activities were centred around these factory premises.
1949 saw the family connection with the firm, end as W. E. Watson-Baker sold his interest in the firm to financier Captain James Cook.
In 1957 the company was acquired by Pye of Cambridge and ten years later, taken over by Philips. By 1970 the manufacture of microscopes was over.
It is the Post World War I period that we are really concerned with on this site as it is from this juncture that the Service microscope was first introduced.