memories of yeovil

Memories of yeovil

Yeovilians remember Yeovil as it was


"Who can ever forget the smell of roasting coffee beans
 wafting across the Borough from the Cadena?"


This page is all about the memories of Yeovil, written by Yeovilians. The top section leads to individual pages containing extensive memories, often about a single subject. Following is a selection of the memories used throughout this website and gathered together here.

I would ask you to add your own memories, no matter how brief or how long, by sending me an email - my email address is at the very bottom of this page. I would also encourage you to send me photographs of old Yeovil to include in this website so that others may share your memories. All memories and photographs will be credited.



And for these snippets, many thanks to....


.... Mike Bolton for the following pub memories - "When I was still at school (Yeovil School 1956-1962) and later I used to play for a local cricket team called the Druids whose home pitch was at Mudford rec where the running track is now, and we used to meet at the Hollands Inn. Later we used to meet at the Black Horse. Some friends and I used to run the Yeovil folk club called the Jellalabad in the skittle alley of the Somerset Inn in the late 1970's and early '80's. Previously (late 1960's early '70's) we had run the folk club in an upstairs room at the White Horse in St Michaels Avenue. The Plucknett was originally the town house of Henry Harbin, (possible links to Newton Surmaville?). It began life as a drinking establishment called the 142 Club (the house number) and was frequented on Friday lunchtimes in the 1970's by some of the teachers at Preston Secondary School, of which I was one. At the Half Moon in Silver Street Buff Biggin was a much loved and admired local cricketer and after he left the Half Moon he ran the pub at Trent. The Half Moon was the home of Yeovil Folk Club in the early 60s run by the Yetties in an upstairs room. I believe that Paul Simon once sang there [actually in 1965, his fee was £8] on an early pre-Garfunkel tour. The pub was then run by Johnny Fisk the landlord."

.... Mike Hine for the following recollections "In the early/mid-60s the Hollands Inn was incredibly rudimentary. The impression I got was that the doors were opened during licensed hours and that if someone came in to spend some money then that was a bonus to supplement whatever the owners really did to get by financially. We used to run across the road from the grammar school and have a half of bitter and a smoke in the lunch hour. I seem to remember an old landlady who probably couldn’t tell (or care) whether we were 15 or 35 but you'd imagine the blazers would have given her a clue. The Pall Tavern was, in the early 1960s pre-Berni, a 'squaddie pub'. I don't know who was stationed at Houndstone camp but a large number seemed to be Scots. It was also thought to be a 'brothel'." (His words, not mine - the only Yeovil brothel I know of (from paper research, not practical research, you understand) was run by Ellen Sheppard at 16 South Western Terrace - she later ran the Fleur-de-Lys in High Street, see which for further details).

.... Chris Stone for her memory of the 1953 bus crash incident - "Off duty bus driver Mr Ivor Kemble was travelling home to Marl Close and was thrown through the main entrance into the stream, but quickly recovered and clambered back to help the passengers. Mr Kemble had broken his wrist. In addition to the broken wrist several passengers were injured, nothing serious thankfully."

.... Carolyn Osborn for the following - "My mum took me to see 'South Pacific' at the Princes Theatre when I was thirteen. It was on a Tuesday evening and I was so excited because it was a school night. Dad dropped us off and picked us up afterwards and mum and I had orange juice and biscuits during the intermission. The production was lovely - I still remember it so well - it was a special evening I'll never forget."

.... Tony Robins for the following - "Many of Yeovil's pubs were quite small. The Wellington Inn for instance, in Wellington Street, was only a tiny little room with a hatch in one wall. Beer was passed through the hatch from the kitchen which was used as a tap room. The Market Street Inn was the same. I remember that the Rustywell Inn had a sign on the wall outside saying 'Licensed to sell Cider Only'."

.... and Tony again "Before he had a barrow my father had a horse and cart which he used to sell fruit and veg around the streets - the trouble was, he could never catch the bloody horse in the mornings. During the Depression my grandfather used to get fresh fish delivered from Grimsby and Lowestoft and he had four lads, including my father, who used to push the barrows all around the streets and out to the villages such as Mudford and Coker, selling fish as well as fruit and veg. In those days you had what were called 'knockers' - young lads who ran in front of the barrow, knocking on doors to get people's attention."

.... Ron Hilborne for the following memories - "I lived in 50 Vicarage Street in the 1930's and used to run errands for Nat Robins who was Harold's father. Harold's son (Cliff) once built a car with a propeller on the back. It had a big guard around the propeller for safety. I don't remember his Dad selling fruit and veg but I think they had a market stall in the Borough on Saturdays. Nat sold sweets and chocolates and groceries. A lot of my errands were over the road to Plowman's the wholesale depot. I used to notice a little bit of secrecy take place when some customers came in the shop and a small envelope passed over the counter. It was of course one of the few places where contraceptives could be obtained in those days. I am of course looking back 78 years but my memory is quite good. Regarding the contraceptives, I think there was a disc about the size of a 50p fixed to the counter and if you required a packet you sort of made it known by putting your finger on the disc. It was of course only some years later that I knew about such things. Nat's wife was very deaf and spent most of her time in the window at her sewing machine. Harold opened the shop in West Hendford which must have been a goldmine with all the Westland's staff popping in for their fags and papers on the way to work."

.... Geraldine Locke for the following information "Mr Clarence Henry Perkins (It may well be Henry Clarence, mum and I aren’t sure!) but he was known as Harry, was the landlord of the Royal Oak in Wine Street. He was definitely there in 1968 to 1971 but the rest we are unsure. They moved down from the Mendips after selling their farm, whether this was 1968 or before we are not sure, and again I know I was taken into the upstairs after I was born which was 1971 and I know they had moved to Beer Street by the time my sister was born which was August 1973."

.... Stella Trent for the following on air raid shelters "My Dad dug up the back lawn to build a shelter, and also made little benches to sit on. A neighbour of ours had one of the table-top type. Her Husband was away in the forces, and she had two very young children, so they slept in there at night, so they wouldn't be disturbed when the siren went."

.... and Stella again regarding Braggchurch "I remember it as a big house and a huge garden back in the 1930’s. I was in St Michael's Brownie pack and there must have been a fete on as we went there to dance around the Maypole."

.... Will Rich for the following memories - "I lived in Westfield Avenue and in the fifties if I was ever sent on an errand in the dark to the Westfield Hotel off-license I was terrified of the big boys who used to sit on the pub's low wall. The off-license used to sell Miller's steak and kidney pies (very popular, even though full of gristly bits) and it stocked the Green 'Un on a Saturday night. We used to scrounge empties off people and take them up there for the 3d on the bottle. Aubrey Philips would eye them suspiciously and ask if the full bottles had been bought at the Westfield, which they often had not. We usually got our thruppences, however. The most embarrassing thing was having to ask for five Weight's cigarettes for my mother. She couldn't afford any more but they were always reluctant to split a ten pack for her. I used to call into the Somerset Inn's Jug and Bottle when I was an underage drinker for a half of cider (6d). The hatch was low down and I was tall, so whoever was serving couldn't really see how old I was (probably 15-16 at the time). Interesting that the Greyhound was seen as a den of iniquity (Hell's Angels etc). In the sixties it was definitely an underage drinking establishment, mainly populated by mods, and notable for its bar billiards table. I was not actually present at the time but apparently one evening the local rockers invaded and a brawl ensued in which the rockers were well trounced, including some who had beer glasses smashed over their heads. Had my first snog at the Half Moon folk club and I don't know about Paul Simon but Julie Felix definitely appeared there. In 1968 a riot started after youths had been drinking heavily there and were encouraged by a couple of French lads to reenact the Paris disturbances of May that year. Several were arrested (including the French boys and yours truly) and the police station was besieged by stone-throwing youths."

.... Brian Butt for the following anecdote - "Playing on the skittle alley at the Half Moon was ‘different’. It was upstairs and the slope was such that if you missed the pins on the way up you had a fair chance of getting them as the ball ran back."

.... Tim of Orkney for the following, the second part especially answering a lot of people's questions!! - "I lived at 109 Milford Road with my parents from 1960 until 1984. When I left Yeovil College in 1975 I went to Bournemouth College to study for a Diploma in Business Studies. During one vacation I worked as a barman at the Milford Inn. I left fairly quickly because I found myself working for a totally unscrupulous landlord. I discovered after a short time, that he had devised an ingenious device which, when inserted into a partly empty keg of Bass Special, would enable him to pour all the beer slops back into the cask! What was really strange that that the largely local customers never complained about the beer. On the other hand perhaps it explains why the place largely had only local customers! "

.... Stephen Sharpe for the following - "My maternal grandfather was licensee of the Volunteer Inn from 1949-1960. He was C.W. (Cecil William George) White (1905-1972). I was born in 1955 and lived there afterwards with my parents, my auntie & uncle, and of course, grandparents. I have always had vivid memories of the pub: the bar, the staircases, the brown-stain decoration, the hen-coops & filbert tree in the garden."


.... and a bit further back


Alfred J Milborne (b1888) recalled these memories, which probably took place during the 1890s - ".... This calls to mind the burning down of Hill and Boll's coach factory which took place while we were living at 32 Kingston. This was the biggest fire we ever had in Yeovil and it was quite spectacular. Saturday afternoons I invariably met Harry Box and rode on the Three Choughs Hotel 'bus (if the driver was in good humour) to Pen Mill Station and back, a thrill which we small boys thoroughly enjoyed. If we could not ride upon the 'bus, then we would spend the time vaulting the sheep pens at the market."



I hope you have enjoyed reading these Yeovil memories. Why not add your own - anything from just a snippet to a full page of reminiscences - and, of course, you will be credited.

Please e-mail me - my address is bob(dot)osborn(at)btinternet(dot)com  -  (this is not an actual link, to avoid me getting even more spam - and please note the spelling of my surname).