the history of yeovil's pubs





rising star

Middle Street   (The British Workman's Public House)


This short-lived town centre establishment opened on Fair Day, 15 November 1878 under the name of the 'Rising Star Coffee Tavern' in Middle Street (although exactly where isn't certain). Within four years it was listed as the British Workman's Public House after which it was never mentioned again.

While not strictly falling within my guidelines for inclusion as a public house, I include the Rising Star for interest.

The Coffee Tavern was a phenomenon of the 1870's and related to the Temperance Movement in as much as they saw the need to offer an alternative to the public house proper.

The idea of the Coffee Tavern was that it was, to quote Peter Haydon's 'The English Pub' - "supposed to look and feel like a public house, offering food, coffee, tea and a variety of non-alcoholic beverages, and even early attempts at alcohol-free beers, such as Cox's Anti-Burton. (see advert left - available in casks from 9 gallons upwards!).

There were not many aspects of the public house life that they did not try to imitate, but even the best of them could not help but sanitise what it attempted to replicate and the overall effect never really rose above a slightly sanctimonious pastiche.

The people who ran the underwriting organisation that founded these coffee public houses - the Coffee Tavern Co (1870) and the Coffee Public House Association (1877) - disliked the genuine pub too intensely to reproduce them without resorting to sermonising of one sort or another. In addition, "Their tea, coffee and food were frequently disgusting and the surroundings they provided were gloomy and squalid enough to be compared to a workhouse dining hall." (Giroud, Victorian Pubs)."

Also in Yeovil, between 1894 and 1919, was the 'Come and Welcome Coffee Tavern' at 5 Wine Street.

So there you have it - little wonder there are so few references to temperance-style coffee taverns in a town with, at the time, well over 60 pubs and some thirty beerhouses!




A report of a Temperance Society meeting referring to their efforts to establish a British Workman Public House in the 5 April 1878 edition of the Western Gazette.


.... and the announcement of its opening in the 6 December 1878 edition of the Western Gazette.




1878 – Manager: Mr Scettrino. Opened Friday, 15 November 1878 (Fair Day) under the name
           of the 'Rising Star Coffee Tavern.
1882 – (Whitby's 1882 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser) listed as British Workingman's Public House,
            Middle Street