yeovil people

Robert william 'Bob' Osborn

Yeovil author and historian

 

I was born on 4 September 1949, in Brocket Hall, a Grade I-listed classical country house set in a large park at the western side of the urban area of Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire. It wasn't that my family had money, it's just that after the Second World War, the house became a temporary maternity hospital for Londoners.

I am the elder son of William Harold Sidney Osborn, known as Bill (1923-1985) and Ellen Annie née Warren (1921-2014), known for most of her life as 'Sis'. My younger brother is Keith John (b1953). We lived in Warwick Road, Enfield Lock, Middlesex, opposite the Royal Small Arms Factory where dad spent his whole career - starting as an apprentice and ending up as the factory manager. We moved to 39 Cunningham Avenue, Enfield Lock, in 1955, where my parents remained until their deaths.

I worked in the London Borough of Enfield's Architect's Department for five years, before moving to Yeovil in 1973 to work in the Architect's Department of Yeovil Borough Council at Telford House. The department moved to the municipal offices in King George Street in 1974 when all the local councils joined to become Yeovil District Council, later renamed South Somerset District Council.

After five years in the Architect's Section of the Technical Department, I spent a year as the department's financial cost controller before being asked by the Chief Technical Officer to become the department's administration officer. I introduced computers into the department in 1982 and computers gradually took on a more prominent role in my duties. I eventually joined the council's IT unit and became the webmaster for the council in the mid-1990s. At the same time I was teaching evening website design classes at Yeovil College and running my own website design company.

In 2003, I began working full time for Yeovil College, managing and teaching IT at an off-site 'outreach' learning centre in Sherborne, and also working at other off-site centres in Chard, Wincanton, Ilminster, Langport and Yeovil. I retired on my 60th birthday in 2009.

I have been married four times, my present wife Carolyn and I have now been together for more than 25 years. I have four grown-up children, eight grandchildren and a cat called Alice.

My interests have always been concerned with researching various subjects in great depth and, since retiring, I have tended to concentrate on Yeovil and its history, as I  became ever more involved in researching and writing about the town and its past. I have a collection of over a thousand postcards of Yeovil, around a hundred coins, tokens and medallions of Yeovil (mostly from the 1650s, but all before the Great War), several hundred Victorian and Edwardian photographs of Yeovilians by Yeovil photographers, as well as a myriad of Yeovil 'odds and sods', such as bottles, cream jugs, maps and other ephemera. All of my collections are willed to the County Heritage Centre.

My researches initially led to the creation of a website about pubs of Yeovil which, in 2014, was expanded to become this website - the A-to-Z of Yeovil's History. The website currently (2020) contains some 2,300 pages (equivalent to over 10,000 A4 printed pages) and over 10,500 images. It has been viewed in 130 countries, with total page views in excess of 2,500,000.

The 312 pages that make up 'The Fallen' on this website (my 2014-18 project for the A-to-Z) was completed in mid-2018. I am proud that my research for this project discovered over sixty Yeovil men whose names were omitted from the Borough War Memorial and two from the Preston Plucknett War Memorial. I also discovered 46 errors on the most recent panels. Fifty-three names were added to a new set of plaques for the Borough War Memorial (bringing the total to 289 names), commissioned by the Town Council, that was re-dedicated in a ceremony on the centenary of Armistice Day, 11 November 2018.

In 2017, I created the Facebook group 'Bygone Yeovil' on which, as the Admin, I post pictures every day. The group currently has over 7,800 members. I am also the admin of the Facebook group 'Yeovil & District at War', started by my friend Roger McElliott, and I took over the running of the group when he passed away.

I have been writing non-fiction books in a wide range of subjects as a hobby for some thirty years, initially self-published as e-Books. My book count is now over twenty. In 2015, my friend and fellow Yeovil historian Jack Sweet, was considering giving up writing books on Yeovil's history and gave my name to his publishers, Amberley of Stroud. My first book for Amberley was published in 2016 and I have been published twice a year since then. Amberley published seven of my Yeovil history books, but I now publish them myself.

For my current and forthcoming booklist, click here.

 

gallery

 

.... and just to prove that I did go to work - this is me at my drawing board. This was upstairs in Telford House in early 1974 when it was the drawing office of the Borough Architect's Department of Yeovil Borough Council.

 

... and this is me today - older but no wiser.