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 edition of 'Where to Buy' Thomas Barber's business was given the following description -

T W Barber,
Saddler & Harness Maker,
74, Hendford

Notwithstanding the introduction of machinery, in every department of life almost, the horse is still as indispensable as ever, and, owing to improved roads, vehicles and
harness are much more used than in ancient times. One of the most important items connected with the ease and comfort, and in many cases the safety, of both horse and rider or driver, is the reliable quality of the saddlery and harness. Whether on the road, in the hunting field, or in other pursuits, the very life of the equestrian may depend on the strength, durability, or construction of his equipment, while at all times both his own comfort and that of his horse depend on the style of the outfit.

In Yeovil and the surrounding district a very large number of horses are employed, and the saddlery and harness trade is very important. Mr Barber, the subject of this notice, is the well-known saddle and harness maker, and general equestrian outfitter, of 74, Hendford, and possesses one of the best and oldest established businesses in the county.

The shop in which he carries on his work stands in a good position, opposite the 'Three Choughs'. the leading Family and Commercial Hotel. Mr Barber's many years'
West End London experience has been very valuable during the fourteen years he has been in business, enabling him to maintain the high character enjoyed by his predecessor for half a century.

Harness of every description for single, double, and tandem, in every kind of mounting, is made on the premises, as well as all kinds of horse clothing; particular care is taken in the make and fit, and they can be supplied at the shortest notice. The material and workmanship are of the best quality, and all repairs as well as orders for new goods are carried out under the personal supervision of the proprietor. Every description of hunting saddles, side saddles, whips, bits, spurs, bridles, and other riding necessaries, as well as all kinds of stable requisites, are kept in stock or supplied to order with the latest improvements. Mr Barber has also a branch establishment at Martock, seven miles from Yeovil, on the Great Western Railway, and all orders given there meet with the same prompt attention as at Yeovil.


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.




Thomas Barber's advertisement in the 1889 edition of Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser.


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.