The history of yeovil's pubs
13-15 South Western Terrace
Although the railway came to Yeovil in 1853 (the first station being at Hendford) Yeovil Town Station, shown below, was the last of Yeovil's four railway stations to be built and opened in 1861 (finally closing in 1961). The Alexandra Hotel (shown pink on the map at left) along with the rest of South Western Terrace, was built by Levi Ridout very shortly thereafter in its prime location to accommodate railway travellers. A large, imposing building on a corner site and built to directly face the station and impress travellers - for many of whom it would be their first impression of Yeovil as they stepped off their train.
Built of ashlar under a slate roof it is three storeys as it wraps around the corner but reduces to two storeys with dormered attic rooms as it continues east along the rising ground towards Newton Road. The main entrance is on the corner with a flat portico supported by a pair of Doric columns and reached by a short flight of steps. At the start of the two storey section a porte cochere gave entrance to some stabling at the rear and a long service alley, actually named Coldharbour Lane, that connected with Middle Street.
Of interest, in connection with the stabling, an advertisement in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser below states "Waggonettes, Dog Carts, Open & Close Carriages, Stabling and Loose Boxes for Hunters. Saddle Horses and Hunters for Hire". Also of interest in the same advertisement is the statement "Nearest House to the Joint Stations" being a reference to the fact that two railway companies used the Yeovil Town Station and each had their own Station Master!
The new hotel was named, in a flurry of patriotism, after the popular Princess Alexandra of Denmark (1844-1925), photographed at left, became the consort of King Edward VII when they married in March 1863, shortly before the hotel opened. She was queen consort and Empress of India from 1901 to 1910
At right is a public house 'check' or trade token issued at the Alexandra Hotel during the period LC Smith was licensee - roughly between 1936 and 1947. It is made of brass, 24.5mm in diameter and with a plain edge. On the obverse it says "LC SMITH, ALEXANDER (note the spelling mistake) HOTEL, YEOVIL" and on the reverse is its value - 6D.
At this time sixpence could buy you a roast beef dinner with vegetables or 2½ pints of stout. Checks were frequently used in games, such as skittles or quoits where, for instance, players would 'chip in' a check to the 'kitty' which would be won by the winning team to redeem at the bar. By issuing checks a landlord could guarantee they would be spent in his establishment only.
At the rear of the Alexandra, in the alley earlier known as Coldharbour Lane, was a stable block and a coach house. These were converted into a skittle alley in 1933.
The first listed licensee of the Alexandra Hotel in 1871, Horace E Venner, of Dover, Kent, was only 26 years old when he became the hotel keeper with his wife Elizabeth. By 1881 he and his small family had moved to Staffordshire where he worked as a railway clerk. He was followed briefly, in 1875, by Robert McAuley who was not resident in Somerset in either 1871 or 1881.
The next licensee was Charles Warr and his wife, Jane. Charles had been born in 1844 at the hamlet of Alvington, just outside Yeovil and Jane hailed from Dorset. They were still in residence ten years later and the 1891 census shows there was also a general servant, Elizabeth Pittman, and an ostler, William Drury, living in. By 1901 Charles and Jane were living in Alvington where he was listed in the census as a farmer.
Wincanton-born James Whensley and his wife, Margaret, were the next tenants. In the 1901 census they are shown with their four children and James' sister, Mary, as well as Annie Hooper, a general domestic servant, and ostler Harry Shepard. James died around 1902 and Margaret assumed the license until 1905.
Sketch Plans of the Alexandra Hotel
This is a sketch based on plans held at the Heritage Centre, Taunton. The original plans are undated but are probably from the 1930s when J Brutton & Sons Ltd were the owners. The plans were submitted at the time of the alterations to extend the bar area as shown below.
The wording changed very little in the fifty-plus years in these advertisements for the Alexandra Hotel, the only leaning to modernity being waggonettes, dog carts, etc. being replaced by motor cars, but they still offered stabling for your hunter!
Taken about 1880, this photograph shows the proximity of the Alexandra Hotel, at top left, to the Yeovil Town railway station.
This photograph, taken some five years later, shows the Alexandra Hotel in more detail. Notice that, although the buildings at right had been built, the road itself had not yet been fully constructed and was the remnants of Dodham Lane. At this time the road at left, now Old Station Road, was called Station Road. The terrace of buildings is South Western Terrace - all built by local builder Levi Ridout..
This photograph, taken around 1910, looks down Station Road (now Old Station Road) to Yeovil Town Railway Station with the corner of the Alexandra Hotel at left and Skinner's Coal Yard at right. William Skinner had originally kept a beerhouse in Middle Street.
A panorama taken from Summerhouse Hill around 1910 showing the Alexandra Hotel, arrowed, in its setting at the edge of the town and its proximity to the town railway station. Notice, however, the proximity of the open countryside to the town - all those fields are now built on.
Photographed in 1960 by Charrington & Co Ltd's surveyors as part of a 'stocktaking' exercise of photographing Brutton's pubs prior to the brewery takeover.
Courtesy of Chris Rendell
The Alexandra, seen from Old Town Station car park and photographed in 1985.
Courtesy of Chris Rendell
In its guise as The Alexandra, photographed in 1989.
Courtesy of Bill and Audrey Robertson
In its guise as the less formal Alex during the 1990s - before Malee Thai took over the building at centre and the Yeovil Bicycle Centre was where Tamburino's is today.
Photographed in 2012, the Alexandra Hotel is now a CityLodge.
.... and by 2015 had become Terrace Lodge.
1871 – Horace Venner – Hotel-Keeper (1871 census) listed as Alexandra Hotel
1875 – Robert McAulay (P.O. Directory 1875)
1875 – Robert McAulay (Kelly's 1875 Directory - Hotels & Inns)
1881 – Charles Warr – Inn Keeper (1881 census) listed as Alexandra Hotel
1882 – Charles Warr (Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser 1882)
1890 – Charles Ware (Kelly's 1890 Directory)
1891 – Charles Warr – Hotel Keeper (1891 census) listed as Alexandra Inn
1892 – James Whensley – license transfer (Borough Petty Sessions)
1894 – James Whensley – Proprietor (Western Gazette Almanac)
1895 – James Whensley (Kelly’s 1895 Directory) listed as Alexandra Hotel
1901 – James Whensley – Hotel Proprietor (1901 census) listed as Alexandra Hotel
1902 – James Whensley (Western Gazette Almanac 1902)
1903 – Mrs Whensley – Proprietress (Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser 1903)
1905 – Margaret Flora Whensley (Western Gazette Almanac)
1906 – William T Bruce (Western Gazette Almanac 1906)
1910 – William T Bruce (Western Gazette Almanac 1910)
1911 – Mr Hardyman (1911 census Summary) listed as Hotel
1923 – William Cook (Kelly’s 1923 Directory) listed as Alexandra Hotel
1936 – LC Smith (1936 Yeovil Directory) listed as Alexandra Hotel
1938 – LC Smith (1938 Yeovil Directory) listed as Alexandra Hotel
1939 – LC Smith - Proprietor (Kelly’s 1939 Directory) listed as Alexandra Hotel
1947 – LC Smith (1947 Yeovil Directory) listed as Alexandra Hotel
1949 – C Cook (Kelly’s 1949 Directory) listed as Alexandra Hotel
1954 – C Cook (1954 Yeovil Directory) listed as Alexandra Hotel
1957 – C Cook (1957 Yeovil Directory) listed as Alexandra Hotel
1960 – E Call
1965 – Licensee not named (1965 Yeovil Directory) listed as Alexandra Hotel
1968 – Licensee not named (Kelly’s 1968 Directory) listed as Alexandra Tavern
1969 – Licensee not named (Kelly’s 1969 Directory) listed as Alexandra Tavern
1970 – Licensee not named (Kelly’s 1970 Directory) listed as Alexandra Tavern
1971 – Licensee not named (Kelly’s 1971 Directory) listed as Alexandra Tavern
1972 – Licensee not named (Kelly’s 1972 Directory) listed as Alexandra Tavern
1973 – Licensee not named (Kelly’s 1973 Directory) listed as Alexandra Tavern
1974 – Licensee not named (1974 Yeovil Directory) listed as Alexandra Tavern