the triangle

the triangle

Formerly Vennell's Cross, the easternmost entry into the town

 

The area known today as the Triangle is where Middle Street, South Street, Vicarage Street, Stars Lane and Fore Street (Lower Middle Street) met and in earlier times was the easternmost point of the Borough of Yeovil.

In 1440 it was referred to in a document as Fynelscrosse and in another document some twenty years later as Vennel's Crosse. It was known for many years as Vennell’s Cross and it seems certain that it was the site of a medieval cross; perhaps a preaching cross for peripatetic monks or a wayfaring cross for the comfort of travellers at, what was of course, the entry point into the town from the direction of London.

The name Vennell may have derived from a person or, as Leslie Brooke indicated, it is more likely that the name arose from the Latin word venella meaning a lane (a reference to Turnstile Lane - see below).

It was originally called the Triangle because it was a small triangular piece of land containing buildings, shown on all known maps up to and including the 1886 Ordnance Survey, that was bounded by Middle Street on the north, South Street to the south and a small lane, known as Turnstile Lane, running between Middle Street and South Street. Its western side is now marked by the building built for the Yeovil & District Co-operative Society in 1910 which now faces east across the open space we call the Triangle today.

The Borough Council bought the land in 1896 and the area was cleared of buildings to create the open space we know today.

The underground toilets, almost centrally-place in the Triangle, were built in the 1920s and closed in the late 1970s and dug up in the very early 1980s (see Gallery). Today's bandstand was built in the 1990's.

 

Yeovilians remember...

From Sue Bow - " I first worked in Summerhouse Terrace and there were no facilities for a girl so if our cleaning lady (who lived opposite) was out, I had to run up to the Triangle toilets. Can you imagine young girls today being told to put on their coat, take an umbrella and scoot up the hill to use the facilities? but it didn't bother me at all - it was just how it was."

 

maps



 

Map based on the 1886 Ordnance Survey shows the area now known as The Triangle to be built up. Indeed it wasn't until the opening years of the twentieth century that the buildings were demolished and the area cleared.

The same area seen on a map based on the 1901 Ordnance Survey showing the area known as the Triangle cleared of buildings.

 

gallery




Courtesy of Bill and Audrey Robertson

This is the earliest photograph I know showing the Triangle. It was taken between about 1900 (when the Coronation Hotel at right was built) and 1910 when the building at far left was occupied by the Yeovil & District Co-operative Society.

 


Courtesy of Bill and Audrey Robertson

Originally this building, most likely the premises of Charles Foan from the 1830s to the 1850s, was on the northwest corner of Turnstile Lane.  The eastern side of Turnstile Lane was demolished between 1886 and 1901, while this building was occupied by the Yeovil & District Co-operative Society and later replaced by their new shop and offices building (that survives today and appears in most of the images below) by 1913.

 


Courtesy of Jack Sweet  -  This photograph features in my book 'Yeovil From Old Photographs'.

The buildings that were originally the west side of Turnstile Lane photographed on 23 March 1910. By this time occupied by the Yeovil & District Co-operative Society. The double tractor unit pulling the 17-ton load was owned by Sibley & Co.

 


Courtesy of Jack Sweet

An enlargement of the previous photograph showing the signage of the Yeovil & District Co-operative Society.

 


From my collection  -  This photograph features in my book 'Yeovil From Old Photographs'.

The Triangle in the 1920s, taken from a postcard.

 


From my collection

The Triangle, looking down Lower Middle Street, in a postcard of about 1940. Note the underground toilets at right,

 


From my collection

The Triangle, looking down Lower Middle Street, in a postcard of about 1944. Note the underground toilets at right, now with black and white markings painted on so that traffic would stand a better chance of seeing it in the blackout.

 

A postcard of around 1912 of Lower Middle Street looking towards the Triangle with the new Co-operative Society building built in 1910.



Pretty much the same view, this photograph dates to about 1925. (The Jesty & Co sign is suspended from a building to the left and is not on the Co-op building).

 


Courtesy of Yeovil - A Trip Back to the Past

For comparison with the previous photograph, this one dates to January 1985 and looks towards the Triangle from Lower Middle Street. Which Yeovil do you prefer - 1925 or 1985?

 

The earliest photograph I've found of this part of Middle Street, photographed around 1890 and looking east from the Triangle. Thomas Jesty's furniture emporium is at extreme right and immediately beyond it are the short front gardens of Ebenezer Terrace. In the distance is seen the triple-gabled offices of the gasworks (now premises of St Margaret's Hospice). At extreme left the cottage with a small front garden was soon to be demolished and replaced with the block of shops (see next photo) surmounted by a series of four small domes seen in a photograph lower down this page. The two blocks of shops at centre, with the awnings, remained until the 1960s.

 


Courtesy of the Western Gazette

A nice photograph of the triple head Sugg lamp (with suspicious-looking dog), in the Triangle outside the workshop end of Thomas Jesty's store, photographed around 1905.



A hand-coloured postcard dating to 1905 and looks down Middle Street from the Triangle. At left is the Coronation Hotel and Vaults and to the right is the large three-light Sugg gas lamp which was removed when the underground toilets were built - the location is now the bandstand.

I have six different postcards all using this image that were posted between 1909 and 1917, including one on which the stamp box on the reverse reads "Affix Halfpenny Stamp" which dates the postcard to before 3 June 1918, when the price rose to one penny.




From my collection

This postcard dates to 1912 and shows the area of the Triangle completely free of obstructions. Note the three-lantern Sugg lamp to the left.

 

A postcard of about 1920, before the construction of the underground toilets.



An aerial view of the Triangle dating to 1928 with the Co-operative Society's building and underground toilets in the centre. Note the old Palace Theatre at top left, on the corner of South Street and Stars Lane.

 


From my collection  -  This photograph features in my book 'Yeovil From Old Photographs'

A postcard of 1927 with the completed toilets in front of the Co-op building with the Palace Theatre seen at extreme left.

 


From my collection

A detail from the previous postcard showing the entrances to the underground toilets (either side of the car) with a Sugg lamp in between. The concrete plinth projecting forward from the toilets was the location of the captured First World War German howitzer given to the Borough Council by the War Office Trophies Committee and moved in 1922 to Bide's Gardens.



By the time of this postcard of the 1930s, the underground toilets had been built in the Triangle.

 


Courtesy of Yeovil - A Trip Back to the Past

The three gas-fired Sugg lamps were replaced by a single electric light, seen in this photograph, in the mid-1920s and the same happened at the junction of High Street and Princes Street. Since the Co-op is in the old Jesty's building at extreme right this photo must be after about 1954, but because the Coronation Hotel is still standing at extreme left it must be before about 1964.

 

This late 1930s or early 1940s photograph is taken from the Triangle and looks up Middle Street with the Coronation Hotel & Vaults at right and the Co-operative building, later Porter Black's, at left - in front of which the underground toilets are decorated in mock Art Deco ziggy-zaggy black and white presumably so that cars don't drive into it, presumably in the blackout - as if.

 

The Co-op building (later to be Porter Black's) is still there as are the old underground toilets in this photo of the late 1950s. The Coronation Hotel at right is lacking its signage. Note that the black and white Art Deco painting on the toilets has gone - presumably because traffic didn't bash into it after all.



Looking across the Triangle in this 1960's photograph towards Stars Lane and South Street. The building at right is still occupied by the Co-operative Society and the toilets are at left.



A photograph of the 1950s looks north across the Triangle from South Street towards the underground toilets and the Coronation Hotel & Vaults beyond.



A 1960's photograph of the Triangle. The lovely building that was the Coronation Hotel has been replaced by Yeovil's unsightly concrete legacy of the 1960s. The underground lavatories remain at this time.

 


This photograph features in my book 'Now That's What I Call Yeovil'

The Triangle toilets being dug out in the early 1980s.

 

The malodorous underground lavatories were closed in the late 1970s and completely dug up, seen here, and the hole filled in during the early very 1980s.

 

The old Co-op building occupied by Carpetland in 1990 - note that the roofline decorative elements are present at this time.

 

Looking down Lower Middle Street from the Triangle in the 1970s or 1980s. At right is Bejam's. Bejam was an acronym for Brian, Eric, John, Apthorp and Millie; the names of the Apthorp family members who founded Bejam. In 1989 Bejam was bought by its rival Iceland.

 



Looking down Lower Middle Street from the Triangle. The flower-bedecked bandstand at far right replaced the underground lavatories (much nicer) and the featureless mass of 1960s concrete and reconstructed stone cladding replaced some wonderful old buildings - you can decide for yourself on the merits/demerits of 1960's architecture. Photographed in 2009.



Photographed in 2013 - compare this with the pre-Wood's Wine bar photograph above.



Again photographed in 2013 and looking towards the junction of Middle Street and Vicarage Street - very pleasant at 7am on a warm Sunday morning