yeovil people

Thomas Walter Barber

Saddler & Harnessmaker of Hendford


Thomas Walter Barber was born in 1841 in Ilminster, Somerset, the second son of journeyman currier (person who dresses and colours leather after it is tanned) Malachi Barber (b 1816) and Esther née Bulgin (b 1810). In the 1851 census Malachi and Esther were recorded living in High Street, Ilminster, with their children; Albert (b 1840), 10-year old Thomas Walter, Malachi (b 1843), Emma (b 1844) John (b 1846), Peter Blake (b 1848) and Maria (b 1850).

During the following years Thomas wandered around the country somewhat and the 1861 census found the 20-year old Thomas lodging at West Quay Road, Poole, Dorset, with the family of William Cobb, a railway porter. Thomas gave his occupation as a saddle and harness maker. By 1871 Thomas was living in a lodging house at 90 Stanley Street, St George, Hanover Square, London. He listed his occupation as a bridle cutter.

In the summer of 1874, at Camberwell, Surrey (now Greater London) Thomas married Ella Bulgin, originally from Dowlish Wake, near Ilminster. In 1877, while living at Kensington, Middlesex, they had a daughter, Emily. There was another child but it did not survive childhood.

By the time of the 1881 census the family had moved to Yeovil and Thomas established a small saddle and harness shop and workshop at 74 Hendford. Thomas and his small family, together with a domestic servant, lived on the first floor. This was next door to premises that was the shop of hairdresser Frank Gaylard and later occupied by chemist Arthur Newton on one side and Henry James Sercombe's ironmongery shop on the other side. In the 1881 census Thomas gave his occupation as 'Master Saddler employing 1 man and 1 boy'.

In the 1891 census Thomas, Ella and Emily were still listed at the premises and had been joined by Thomas' 12-year old niece, Lina Barber. Thomas gave his occupation as a saddle and harness maker. By 1901 just Thomas and Ella were living above the shop and workshop where 58-year old Thomas listed his occupation simply as a saddler.

The 1911 census listed Thomas and Ella still living above the shop at Hendford. They were both listed as being aged 68 and had been married for 36 years. Thomas barber died in Yeovil in the winter of 1911, aged 71.




Looking along the along the 'top' of Hendford, a horse-drawn omnibus, used to transport guests to and from the railway stations, waits outside the Three Choughs Hotel in this sepia-toned photograph of about 1895. In the background the fine three-storey building to the left of the driver still stands today with the upper two storeys occupied by the High Street Dental Practice while the two-storey building behind the driver (the furniture shop of Henry White)) has been replaced by the building now occupied by the Britannia Building Society, seen in the photograph below. At extreme left is the ironmonger's shop belonging to Henry James Sercombe (with the barrow outside), although when Thomas and Ella moved here it was occupied by Samuel Freke's upholstery shop and workshop. Next was Thomas' small shop and workshop with his sign "Barber Saddler" over the door, while next door again the shop with the awning was chemist Arthur Newton's premises and his sign "Newton Chemist" is seen above the awning.


A postcard of Hendford dating to about 1908. At extreme left is the ironmonger's shop belonging to Henry James Sercombe, next were the premises of saddler Thomas Barber and then the dispensary of Alfred Newton.


An enlargement of part of the previous photograph Henry Sercombe's ironmongery shop, Thomas Barber's saddlery and Newton & Co's chemist's shop - photographed around 1908.



Thomas Barber's premises photographed in the 1960s by which time it was occupied by Templeman's shoe shop.


For over 30 years Thomas' home, shop and workshop was the two-storey, right half of Laceys. Photographed in 2012