Lovely old pictures show Swaffham & Watton over the years

Swaffham's bustling traditional Saturday market, dominated by the Buttercross, March 1988. Photo: Ar

Swaffham's bustling traditional Saturday market, dominated by the Buttercross, March 1988. Photo: Archant Library

Take a trip down memory lane with our wonderful photographic celebration of East Anglian life through the decades. Today we take a nostalgic look back at market towns Swaffham and Watton.

New premises for Lloyds Bank in Watton, 1964. Picture: Archant library

New premises for Lloyds Bank in Watton, 1964. Picture: Archant library - Credit: Archant

For so many centuries, Swaffham's large market place has been the focus of town life. The wonderful Buttercross was built in 1783 and topped with a statue of Ceres - the Roman goddess of farming and fertility - which seems as apt today as it did back then.

Today this Breckland town has a well-deserved reputation as a food destination, with everything from a community cafe to a boutique award winning hotel, alongside some fantastic local food and drink suppliers.

From its heyday in the 18th century as a high society hub, when it hosted dances, theatre and even horse racing, to its transformation into a modern market town, it has always had plenty of community spirit, with great oppertunites for the people of the town to come together for celebrations adn events.

Swaffham Nursery Playgroup Halloween, 1990. Photo: Archant Library

Swaffham Nursery Playgroup Halloween, 1990. Photo: Archant Library - Credit: Archant

Nearby, the small market town of Watton has a colourful history - even playing a key role in military operations around the world.


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The now closed RAF station at Watton was opened in January 1939 as the station of 2 Group, Bomber Command. By 1944, the airfield was being shared by the American 25th Bomber Group reconnaissance arm and the 3rd Strategic Air Depot, providing engineering support to the many crippled aircraft that were landing on the airfield. The Secret Service also ran missions from Watton to support resistance organisations in Europe.

Copies of the images featured in this story are available to buy via our photo sales website or alternatively can be ordered by phone on 01603 772449.

The Eastern Daily Press Horse and Dray joins in the procession of floats during the Watton Carnival,

The Eastern Daily Press Horse and Dray joins in the procession of floats during the Watton Carnival, June 12th, 1982. Picture: Archant library - Credit: Archant

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Successful six-a-side football teams from South Greenhoe Middle School in Swaffham, dated 16th March

Successful six-a-side football teams from South Greenhoe Middle School in Swaffham, dated 16th March 1993. Photo: Archant Library - Credit: Archant Library

Watton tennis courts, 13th May, 1978. Picture: Archant library

Watton tennis courts, 13th May, 1978. Picture: Archant library - Credit: Archant

Swaffham carnival, dated 28th august 1989. Photo: Archant Library

Swaffham carnival, dated 28th august 1989. Photo: Archant Library - Credit: Archant Library

Loch Neaton swimming pool in Watton, 27th May, 1991. Picture: Archant library

Loch Neaton swimming pool in Watton, 27th May, 1991. Picture: Archant library - Credit: Archant

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