Yeovil people

Reuben Dibsdall

Engineer & Machine Agent


Reuben Dibsdall was born in West Camel in 1847 and baptised at All Saints church, West Camel, on 27 June 1847. He was the eldest of the nine children of blacksmith Charles Dibsdall (1817-1884) and Ann née Barrington (1819-1886). Charles and Ann's children were; Reuben, Lucy (1851-1915), Mary Somers (1852-1930), Ann (1854-1921), Charles (18561914), James Barrington (1858-1886), Elizabeth (1860-1941), Sarah (1862-1926) and Thomas (1865-1935).

In the 1851 census, Charles and Ann, together with Reuben and Lucy, were recorded in West Camel. Charles gave his occupation as a blacksmith. The 1861 census recorded the family, by this time expanded to seven children, at Chantrey, Yeovilton, and by 1871 Charles had been joined by his three eldest sons, Reuben, Charles and James, at the smithy. All four gave their occupations as blacksmiths.

On 31 December 1872, at West Camel, Reuben married Ellen Tucker (1850-1930) of West Camel. They were to have five children; the first child, Ellen Dora (1873-1945) was born in West Camel, then Andrew John (1875-1958) was born in High Ham. The family had moved to Yeovil by 1878 where the next three children were born - Ethel Elizabeth (1878-1917), Edgar (1884-1940) and Ivan Reuben Agustus Clarence (1895-1913).

The 1881 census recorded 32-year-old Reuben, Ann and their three eldest children at 34 Huish. Reuben worked as an engine fitter at Brutton's Brewery, just around the corner in Clarence Street. By the time of the 1891 census, however, Reuben had moved his family to 4 Stars Lane, immediately next door to the Duke of Clarence. 43-year-old Reuben gave his occupation as an iron founder and machine dealer, his 17-year-old daughter Ellen was a dressmaker and 14-year-old Andrew was an engineer's apprentice.

The 1901 census recorded the family at 14 Camborne Grove. Reuben, and both his sons Andrew and Edgar, all gave their occupations as jobbing mechanics.

In 1903, Reuben began advertising "larger and more convenient premises opposite the Reckleford Board Schools". As seen in the Gallery below, it was located in the space between two terraces of housing, today, roughly the site of the ambulance station.

By the time of the 1911 census, Reuben and Ellen, together with their married daughter Ethel and 16-year-old son Ivan were living at 10 Market Street. Reuben gave his occupation as 'Fixing & Repairing Machinery' while Ivan gave his as a confectioner's apprentice.

In May 1913, tragedy struck Reuben's family when his 18-year-old son Ivan together with his sweetheart Harriett Woolmington, committed suicide by shooting. The inquest found Ivor guilty of murdering Harriett and then taking his own life. The full story is shown below in the Gallery.

Reuben Dibsdall died in Yeovil in 1928, aged 78. Ellen died in Yeovil in 1930, aged 80.


The entry of Reuben's baptism of 27 June 1847 in the West Camel parish register.


The record of Reuben and Ann's marriage of 31 December 1872. Again, from the West Camel parish register.


This 1960's photograph of the Triangle shows the Duke of Clarence in Stars Lane, the white building at the very centre of the photograph, before it had acquired the small house between it and the Gaumont cinema. The small house had been the residence of Reuben Dibsdall during the 1890s.


Reuben's advertisement in the 10 March 1905 edition of the Western Chronicle.


From my collection

Reuben Dibsdall's letterhead of 1907. The letters 'MPIA' after his name stand for 'Member of the Parisian Inventors' Academy'.


A photograph dating to the mid-1950's looking up Reckleford from the junction with Wyndham Street and Eastland Road, showing Reckleford Terrace at centre and the Glovers Arms at left. Reuben's 'Reckleford Iron Works' was located in the space between the two terraces, just beyond the two cars in the distance - today, roughly the site of the ambulance station.


From the 23 May 1913 edition of the Central Somerset Gazette, comes this report on the deaths of Reuben's son Ivan (albeit written a Ivor in the article) and his paramour Harriett Woolmington.