Monthly Archives: July 2015

Photos Framed PM

Another enlightening and varied week at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, (CHAC) near Yeovil.

One of our most recent events was our Photo Afternoon on Thursday 9th July. We try and hold the Photo Afternoons every two months or so, and the idea is simply to get out a few of our photographs for people to look through and chat over in our Research Room.

The idea started as a simple way to encourage more visitors to visit CHAC and therefore shape the perception of the Centre and increase our profile in the local community. Yeovil Library kindly allow us to have a display every two months in the front library window and we use this to display a ‘Yeovil and South Somerset theme’ and forthcoming events. This helps us and the library often receives an increased number of visitors asking about our window display. We state specifically that “booking is essential,” as we can only accommodate around 8-15 people in our front room and as we have a shared car park, parking can be tricky. However, this is why we decided upon a 2pm start time, as there are more spaces available, with many of our colleagues going home at this time. We also thought about numbers, as the event is free at the moment, with donations gratefully accepted but we also wanted to keep the event manageable and not create extra work.

There are also environmental considerations. The main issue is having four or five boxes of photographs stored in environmental conditions suddenly taken out into a warm room for a period of two hours. We try to let each box acclimatize in a separate quarantine area ‘before use.’

There is also a ‘time’ issue. We could make specific selections on ‘photographic themes’ and select 40 or so images from the boxes. In this way, we would know exactly how many photographs are out and could also advertise these themes. However, we then have to place all the photographs back in the correct boxes. This takes time in itself, without having other projects on the go as well.

On 9th July, we enjoyed our busiest Photo Afternoon yet, with 6 people in total. Three visitors were ‘regulars’ that we can contact as they provided their contact details and three came as result of seeing our display – one of which told us of her brother in the photograph on display. One of the highlights is hearing the nature of the discussions; particularly between someone who has lived in Yeovil all their lives and can remember walking down the streets at the time the photographs were taken with someone who has only lived in Yeovil for 10 years; or even just moved to the town. Interestingly, we also have people who lived in Yeovil in the 1960s, moved away for work and then returned in the 1990s or 2000s and wish to see what went on in the intervening years!

On 9th July, the  Photographic Collection was even increased as one visitor brought in two photographs for us to copy; one of the VE Day Victory Parade in the Borough, Yeovil in May 1945 and his school photograph from Buckler’s Mead School, 1972, which proved a little more tricky to photograph! Our regular visitor even took the time to name as many teachers and pupils in the photograph while he was present with us, which is so important in terms of documentation.

So, photos framed pm by memories, past, present and future and often by individual curiosity.

The success of the event is measured by the simple reply upon leaving of: “When is the next one?”

We will let people know when the next Photo Afternoon is due to be.

P.S. The Yeovil In The Past 2016 Calendar will available shortly!


Just getting going on our latest Photo Afternoon!


Relatively Speaking

A busy and varied week at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil, including two notable research visits.

The first came as a result of the Westland 100 event on Sunday 12th July. One of the people attending was Branscombe Young, from Australia, grandson of Percival Petter. Percival and Ernest Petter were twins who founded Westland Aircraft in 1915.

Branscombe remembered seeing the horseless carriage engine when the Museum was housed above the library in King George Street and wondered where the engine was located today. The horseless carriage was an early car made by the twins in 1895 with the assistance of their foreman, Ben Jacobs from Martock and based on a ‘Boy’s Own Paper’ Design.

The following day we arranged a visit to see the engine, plus other Petter related objects, including the Nautilus Grate, an early form of circulating heat radiator, which Queen Victoria purchased for Osborne House, Isle of Wight. This Royal Patronage set the Petter name on their way.

This was a great opportunity to meet a living relative of such a central part of Yeovil’s heritage, particularly as we look at documents, photographs and objects everyday related to the family. We also took the opportunity as the gentleman was flying out to Australia the next day!

These thoughts were also in our minds on Wednesday with a visit from two members of the Brutton Family. The Brutton Brewery in Clarence Street, Yeovil was a distinctive landmark, especially with the ‘brewery tube’ across the road and the majestic chimney. We were able to show photographs of the building, a ‘Bruttons’ Mirror from one of the Bruttons’ owned pubs and examples of the beer bottles themselves. Interestingly, we were also able to show newly donated photographs of a Bruttons / Charringtons works outing (Charringtons took over Bruttons we believe in the mid 1950s) with the barrel of beer supplied by the company for the outing. This illustrates how one image can have many meanings for a variety of people. Especially on our Photo Afternoon last week, another lady saw the same image featured in our library display and recognised her brother – and did not even know he worked for Bruttons Brewery! Thus proving the value of capturing information and context, ‘the relationship of museums’ as a ‘two-way street’ and the joy of never knowing what we will find out next! (Relatively speaking of course!)

P.S. – We found a Magna Carta in our store last week – a modern translation copy! But a Magna Carta none-the-less.


Relatives of the Brutton Brewery Company in Yeovil enjoying a visit to the Community Heritage Access Centre.

Learning to Fly

Another intriguing and thought-provoking week at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre.

One of our main projects at the moment is our exhibition to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Westland Aircraft. This will be on show in Yeovil Town House, Union Street, Yeovil and we can let people know when this starts.

Selecting objects and photographs for the exhibition has proven to be an interesting process, especially as many of the objects were only recently donated to the Centre.

An initial search of the collection, found the Petters era (prior to the formation of Westland Aircraft) well covered in terms of objects, photographs and written information but less so on Westland and particularly the early years at the start of the First World War.

Due to this fact, we set out on a programme of ‘active collecting’ with a press release in the local newspaper. This led to some significant finds including A folder containing the original plans and drawings for the Westland Wizard dated 4th January 1928. It was handed to Mr Bruce who played such an important part in the formation of the Westland Aircraft Works in 1915 and was accessioned by our volunteers. Interestingly, this also came with another document, which details the Westland Aircraft produced in the First World War Period and how many of each type were manufactured, annotated in pencil above each image. They are also labelled ‘Confidential’ not to be taken from Mr Bruce’s office!

We also received a folder of Westland information assembled by one person, which included extra details on existing items in the collection, to enhance our knowledge of these areas. Examples included a booklet detailing the Flight over Everest by a Westland PV3 (Wapiti) and PV6 (later became a Wallace) in 1933 and a flyer for a play “First over Mount Everest” written by Kate Blacker and performed by Chris Crooks. The “specially commissioned illustrated lecture commissioned by the Discovery Gallery, London of the celebrated Houston Mount Everest Expedition was created from Colonel Blacker’s original lecture notes and magic lantern slides by his grand-daughter, Kate Blacker. In 1931, Colonel LVS Blacker, an officer in the Indian Army, assembled a committee including Lord Clydesdale, author John Buchan, Lord Peel and the Maharajah of Nawanagar to plan the conquest of Mount Everest by air.

We now have the labels completed and the objects selected and hope to install the exhibition towards the end of July 2015. This also raises another interesting environmental issue. We recently attended an “Introduction to Collections Course” organised by the South West Federation of Museums, which was held at The American Museum in Britain at Claverton Manor near Bath. One of the areas that stayed with me was ‘lux hours’ or the length of time an object is exposed to light and the type of light involved (direct sunlight or artificial light). As the Westland items are likely to be on show we will monitor this with humidity strips and regular visits. This is one of the main reasons why a ‘condition report’ is completed before an object selected for exhibition goes on display – to see the level of  deterioration or marking before, during and after display.

As in most things and particularly like Westland, we are learning all the time.

A ‘Wizard’ Find! and model of a Westland Wessex aircraft

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A Victorious Display

A busy and varied week at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil.

Two highlights this week were a tour for Bradford Abbas Local History Society, from Bradford Abbas near Sherborne, Dorset and a VE and VJ Display for East Coker Village Fete on Saturday 4th July 2015.

When the organiser of the Bradford Abbas Local History Society contacted us, his first question was naturally, “would there be any items from Bradford Abbas for us to see?” I was initially a little doubtful, mainly as Bradford Abbas is in Dorset and our collecting policy is Yeovil and South Somerset.

However, a quick search of our database revealed a wide variety of results, ranging from a ‘low spired gastropod’ to a photograph from our Peall & Co Estate Agent Donation dating from 1999 – and a few things in between. These included photographs taken by Henry Stiby, Mayor of Yeovil and a keen Collector, born in Sherborne and later resident in Yeovil up until his death in 1934 at the age of 91. We also showed a photograph of Mrs Jeans, a ‘glove out worker’ working at her cottage at Bradford Abbas using a gloving machine made in Yeovil.

The 20 visitors enjoyed their afternoon and said so – in our visitors book (without any prompting from me or my colleague!)

An organiser for East Coker Annual Village Fete asked us to prepare a display board on the theme of VE and VJ Day. This follows our 2014 display on Yeovil and World War One. This was an interesting creative process as we selected a number of VE-Day photographs, featuring “dancing in the Borough” and “VE-Day Parties.” However, we also made the display ‘mutually beneficial’ through showing one of our recently donated photographs, which happened to be a VE-Day Party and announcing that our “2016 Yeovil Calendar would be coming soon!”

Next time, we aim to look at preparations for our 100th Anniversary Westland Aircraft Exhibition.

Part of Wine Street Documents dated 1.11.1849 between Edward Granger, late of Yeovil, now Bradford Abbas, Gent (1) John Batten the Younger, Gent (2) for £65 Edward Granger rleases to JB the garden called Hores Garden with buildings in Grope Lane. Plan enclosed.

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Our VJ Day Commemorative Mug and part of our display for East Coker Village Fete.