Yeovil people

ebenezer pittard

Leather Merchant


Ebenezer Pittard was born in Yeovil in 1847, the son of leather dresser Charles Pittard and his first wife Ann née Wreford.

In the 1851 census Charles Pittard, aged 29, listed his occupation as 'Leather Dresser employing 6 men'. He was living in Middle Street with his wife Eliza, their three children; Mary born 1840, Charles Wreford born 1844, Ebenezer, and a house servant. The situation was almost identical in 1861 except there was no live-in servant.

When Charles Pittard senior died in 1867 Ebenezer and his older brother, Charles Wreford Pittard, succeeded to their father's leather business.

In 1869 Ebenezer married Sarah Jane Wing, daughter of William Wing of Buckfastleigh, Devon, and his wife Mary. In the 1871 census Ebenezer, aged 23, and Sarah, aged 25, were living in Middle Street with their 10-month-old son William. Ebenezer gave his occupation as leather merchant. The 1881 census recorded Ebenezer and Sarah living at 52 Middle Street (see map below), next door-but-one to the South Western Arms, with their children William, Russell and Elsie, Sarah's mother and two domestic servants. Again Ebenezer described his occupation as leather merchant. Living next door was his brother Charles Pittard with his wife Fanny, their five children and two domestic servants. Charles described his occupation as 'fellmonger & leather dresser'. The porte-cochere between the brothers' two properties led to their leather factory. In the 1891 census there were no changes at all for either Ebenezer or Charles.

In 1858 Charles Pittard had purchased an area of land south of the Sherborne road at Penfield, also known as Dyke's Penn. Charles and Ebenezer added to the site some five years after his death and built a leather dressing yard. From this time onwards, for the next 40 years or so, the Pittard brothers operated two sites with the leather being dressed at the Penfield works and then moved to be finished at the Lower Middle Street factory. Apparently, skins were carried from one place to the other with just a single horse-drawn cart and a single handcart.

The women's suffrage campaign arrived in Yeovil, a Liberal seat, in March 1883 and the speakers at a meeting included Ebenezer's brother Charles. In November 1883 the Liberals held a meeting in Yeovil Town Hall at which the speakers included both Ebenezer and Charles, both declaring themselves firmly in favour of women's suffrage. However, Yeovil did not have its own suffrage society until about 1910.

In 1891 Ebenezer and Charles went their own separate ways and Ebenezer established his own leather dressing yard at the bottom of Mill Lane while Charles continued running the Middle Street and Sherborne Road sites. It appears from headed notepaper (see Gallery), that Ebenezer briefly went into partnership with a Mr Cobb. However, it appears that the partnership was dissolved by January 1906, since Ebenezer has manually altered the letterhead.

In the 1901 census Ebenezer and Sarah were living at 'Woodlands', South Street with two domestic servants. This was the house earlier known as Park Street House, earlier the home of the Fooks family, and shown in its own extensive grounds with attached glove factory in the 1886 Ordnance Survey, on the corner of South Street and Park Street. In the census Ebenezer gave his occupation as 'leather glove manufacturer'. Ebenezer and Sarah were still living at Woodlands in 1911 by which time he was aged 63 and she was 65, they had been married for 42 years and had 4 children although one had predeceased them. Ebenezer gave his occupation as 'leather dresser & manufacturer'.

Ebenezer Pittard had long been associated with elementary education in Yeovil and served on the Yeovil School Board and its successors from 1880 until 1920. He was also a teacher at the South Street Baptist Church Sunday School for more than 50 years. He was made a Freeman of the Borough in 1926 in recognition of his services to education and to the welfare of young children.

Ebenezer Pittard died in Yeovil in 1929 at the age of 82 and his obituary was published in the Western Gazette as follows - "A man of kindly disposition, the late Mr Pittard was ever ready to extend a helping hand for those in need and many generous acts endeared him to the public. He carried on the business of a glove leather manufacturer and for many years was associated with the late Alderman CW Pittard at the works in Sherborne Road. He later conducted the works at Mill Road in which he retained his interest up to the time of his death. He was not only an able businessman with an extensive knowledge of the trade, but a considerate and esteemed employer. By his death the Baptist Church has lost an officer whose influence has been felt in every section of his work."


In September 2023, after a period of 175 years, Pittard's went into administration.




This map, based on the 1886 Ordnance Survey, shows Charles Pittard's leather factory at centre, later run by his two sons, Charles Wreford and Ebenezer. Charles Wreford lived in Middle Street with his family in the property marked 'A' and Ebenezer lived with his family in the property marked 'B'. For reference 'C' is the South Western Arms and 'D' is the Elephant and Castle on the corner of Middle Street and Wyndham Street


From my collection

The 2 January 1906 letter referred to in the text above, in which Ebenezer has manually altered the letterhead from Cobb & Pittard to Ebenezer Pittard.


Charles Wreford and Ebenezer's Pittard's Middle Street leather dressing warehouse and office inherited from their father, Charles. Photographed in the 1930s.


The same view, photographed in 2013.


The extension to the factory seen from Central Road. Photographed in 2013.


This photograph of the 1970's shows Ebenezer Pittard's house - the two-storey building at centre with the entrance to their factory between it and the three-storey brick building at left which replaced the house that Ebenezer's brother Charles Wreford Pittard and his family lived in.


A colourised photograph of the presentation of the Sidney Gardens fountain on 24 May 1899. You'd have thought at least one of 'em could have raised a slight smile. Ebenezer Pittard is No 27 on the drawing below.

So, who was who? Unfortunately only some of the gathering are known, these are as follows -
1 Cllr GH Gould, 2 Cllr Edward Samuel Ewens, 4 Cllr WW Johnson, 5 G Gawler, 6 Cllr James Bazeley Petter, 7 WG Armytage (Borough Surveyor), Henry Jesty (Mace Bearer), 9 Cllr Charles Hook, 10 JK Whitby, 11 Cllr HF Raymond, 14 William Maynard, 15 Alderman Sidney Watts, 16 Miss Watts, 17 Miss Vincent, 18 Mrs Vincent, 20 Alderman W Cox, 22 Mayor John Vincent, 23 Alderman Joseph Chaffey Moore, 24 Cllr Charles Wreford Pittard, 25 Henry Butler Batten (Town Clerk), 26 JH Farley (who donated the fountain), 27 Ebenezer Pittard, 29 WB Collins.


Park Street House, home of the Fooks family then of Ebenezer Pittard.


Pittard's advertisement in the 1970 Yeovil Guide.


An aerial photograph of the Pittard factory in 1970 - the factory was later extended.