Monthly Archives: December 2015

A Revealing Week

A Revealing Week (Seasonal Station)

An attention to detail week since our last posting from South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Lufton, Yeovil.

One of the main tasks this week was re-packing a small selection of costume items, with the help of one of our volunteers. We actually checked that this was acceptable with them, as when we unwrapped the acid-free tissue, the items turned out to be ‘ladies undergarments.’ Some of these were of interesting proportions, reflected in the quantity of new acid free tissue required, along  with careful handling. The particular point was to roll the previously folded garments. This would prevent any further creasing and therefore hopefully minimise any areas for potentially mould growth. Not that we should have any with the dehumidifiers and air flow helping to maintain a more or less consistent relative humidity and temperature.

We also took ‘condition photographs’ of each garment to record the condition as of December 2015, to monitor any change or further deterioration. Interestingly, we had some slight technical issues with our Museum camera, so instead of wasting time waiting for the battery to charge, I used my Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera to get going. I just need to explain (if asked) why I have images of historical lace and cotton ladies undergarments – all in a day’s work!

Our volunteer also checked through one more box of gloves, taking condition photographs and noted one glove missing an accession label and the 1958 Kelways Gladioli Catalogue from last week was also accessioned!

The revealing nature continued with a leather skin thickness gauge fitted with a scale in ‘mm’ and ‘Irons.’ This seemed rather strange until we discovered the following provided by “Zelikovitz Leathers” : “As most leather is sold in Ounce thickness, the approximate equivalent in inch fractions or millimetres is possible to be made. For those in the shoe trade who are used to measuring in ‘Irons’ the comparison can also be made. (More in our next post – hopefully!)

We also enjoyed a visit from an enquirer living in Nottingham on Christmas Eve. They requested information on Yeovil Town Station, as they are building a scale model. As they were born in Yeovil, they were keen to see the new Yeovil Calendar for 2016. This prompted many memories and the 1961 Yeovil Aerial Survey, once again came in handy with images of Yeovil Pen Mill Station. These were also of use to our enquirer to illustrate the extent of the town’s railway system at the time.

In stop press news – The South West Museum Development Programme Annual Report 2014/15 is newly published with the following on page 22:     “Somerset Museums were the most successful of any county in applying for Small Grant Big Improvement funding in 2014/15. One of these museums, Community Heritage Access Centre (CHAC) Yeovil, received £2,000 to develop a calendar featuring historic photos from their collections. the calendar was sold across Yeovil and the proceeds will now provide a self-sustaining income stream for the future, along with a new series of greetings cards and postcards.” (Well done to everyone!)

A peaceful Christmas time from CHAC – and hopefully an equally revealing post next time!

We have a wide variety of undergarments – with these examples! These represent another form of changing social history and perspective!





Bloomin’ Marvellous (Glad All Over)

Another busy, varied and exciting week since our last posting from South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre.

In our last week before Christmas, we have enjoyed the company of our volunteers on our annual volunteer Christmas Lunch held in Montacute and the Team of Yeovil College Students looking at possible photographs for a new CHAC leaflet.

Enquiries this week included a researcher from Nottingham looking for copies of the 1928 Ordnance Survey 1:500 Scale Map of Yeovil, with a particular focus on Yeovil Town Station – as they are building a scale model. We also used relevant sections of the 1961 aerial survey of Yeovil to show Yeovil Town Station from above and the layout of the railway lines to and from the Station. We hope to scan the suitable maps shortly. We also wondered why someone from Nottingham would be making a model of Yeovil Town Station – and it turns out, they used to live in South Western Terrace, Yeovil, opposite the Town Station.

Donations this week feature a Kelways of Langport Gladioli Catalogue from 1958. The standing of Kelways in the Community was underlined by the opening paragraph:

“Our Reputation in this Country at the head of actual Raisers and Growers as well as Exhibitors of Gladioli for 100 years is a guarentee of the Quality of those which we offer herewith.”

This was also notable, for the intiguing items we found inside; namely a small advertisement for Kelway’s own brand of weedkiller “The Kelway KilWeed Non-Poisonous Powdered Weed Killer – No danger, except to weeds – of which it makes a clean sweep. The Best of all Weed Killers” and pencil written instructions of how to care for cucumbers.

We also offer some seasonal, ‘Yeovil’ Christmas Cheer with our small bird-shaped, (possibly Robin!) glove-pattern decoration cutter!

Thank you to all those that have helped CHAC this year and we look forward to 2016 – Best wishes of the Season!

Kelways 1958 Catalogue159


Abstract Detail

We have enjoyed a busy and energetic week since our last posting from South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil.

Last Friday saw our Staff Christmas Meal at Inn the Square, West Coker, where we all enjoyed the seasonal cheer.

We started the week with maps from the collection being transported to the Somerset Heritage Centre, near Taunton to be digitised for the ‘Know Your Place’ Maps Project.  All five maps protected by bubble wrap made their way safely to the conservator and are to be returned rolled for ease of storage.

While we were loading the last map, our research room telephone rang and a donation we were expecting was arranged for ’30 minute’s time.’ We were slightly concerned from the description as this was described as ‘documents – several cubic feet.’ As the donor is well known to us and rides a bicycle, this seemed interesting and perhaps unlikely. However, on this occasion they drove and we wondered what was going to emerge from within. However, these documents were slightly less of a test than the maps, as they were tied in around 8 bundles and added up to 86 individual books – dating from 1912 to 1996 each one an “Abstract of Accounts for Yeovil Borough Council” followed by the “District Council” after the political change in the mid 1970s. Despite some local interest from mice, these are a valuable addition to the collection at CHAC as they fall within our Collecting Policy and also a MODES Database Check revealed that we do have similar books, but only up to 1908. The donor also added significant detail as they were chief accountant up until 1996; where the personal insight is always useful.

In a good week for new donations, we also received two fascinating photographs of South Petherton Hospital around 1969, which we know are not presently in the photographic collection and a pre-1971 Map of Yeovil featuring advertisements of local businesses.

Our Yeovil 2016 Calendar is set to pass the 400 sales mark and two members of staff were helping on Thursday 9th December with a designated sales activity at our SSDC Headquarters at Brympton Way from 12.00 until 13.00.

We also welcome our now regular group of Yeovil College Students this week. We aim to be looking at our MODES (Museum Object Data Entry System) Database, demonstrating how to search for objects and photographs, having fun finding them in the store and then entering the paper records for the objects the students documented and marked last week. We try and show the whole process and we have discovered this can be enjoyable – watching (or should we say helping!) others to complete valuable work, central to the role of CHAC.

This is a fitting point to mention our Volunteers, which through their weekly, Wednesday documentation of objects and photographs, has enabled staff to focus on visitors and groups like the Yeovil College Students. We have our Volunteer Christmas Meal next week.

Donations this week included Borough of Yeovil Abstract of Accounts Books and photographs of South Petherton Hospital



Seasonal Cheer! (The ladies were disappointed to be out-glammed!)


All Mapped Out Louisa’s Links

We have enjoyed a busy and eventful week since our last posting from South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil.

We have continued to prepare the four maps from the collection ready for transit to the Somerset Heritage Centre in Taunton to be digitised for the ‘Know Your Place’ project. This is a notable opportunity to contribute to developing resources.

We provided an illustrated talk on the ‘Louisa Harris Diaries 1887-1920 : A Picture of Life in Yeovil’ to Somerton History Group on Thursday 26th November at the Parish Rooms in Somerton. This was our first time we have provided a talk to this group and in this venue and the 40 members all enjoyed themselves – as we were informed afterwards! They particularly liked the selection of handling objects and illustrations of Yeovil History, which we passed around and Louisa’s links to local and national events. One significant example is the sinking of Kitchener’s ship, the H.M.S Hampshire by a German Submarine off the Orkney Islands in the First World War. Walter Horace Adams, “Wallie” named on Yeovil War Memorial worked briefly for the Western Gazette Newspaper and also perished on the ‘Hampshire.’ We use this example to illustrate well known aspects of the First World War including Kitchener’s famous recruiting poster ‘Your Country Needs You’ and the impact that his death would have had on morale; particularly as a journalist was quoted as saying: “He may not have been a great man, but he made a great poster!”

We also use this example to raise the point of perceptions, particularly as people may associate submarines (and developments in technological warfare in general) with the Second World War. However, Louisa underlines how close submarines came to Great Britain with an attack off the Shambles, off Weymouth, Dorset, as her brother was a customs officer, based in the local area.

During the preparation of our South Somerset Remembers the First World War Booklet, we also received several important artefacts related to W.H. Adams including his Memorial Card and letter of bereavement sent home to his family; copies of which we also passed around.

As this was Somerton History Group’s last meeting of 2015, we also referred to Louisa’s rationing at Christmas time and the Christmas parcels sent from pupils of Long Sutton School to former students fighting at the front, as recorded in the Langport and Somerton Herald.

We completed the evening by showing a few slides of places that Louisa would have visited around Yeovil, including Ninesprings, now part of Yeovil Country Park. This is interesting as Louisa was a wheelchair user from a young age and was ‘pushed in her carriage’ as she was “determined to see the waterfalls and springs!”

Another group also helped this week. Yeovil Women’s Institute allowed us to introduce our 2016 Yeovil Calendar to their Christmas meeting and we did very well indeed!

Our group of Yeovil College Students continued to enjoy themselves this week with completing the documentation of Roman villa plans and a series of aerial photographs of Yeovil. We aim to continue the process next week by entering these records onto our database.

We have also conducted our planning meeting for 2016 – so we have (hopefully!) most things ‘mapped out.’

In ‘news just in’ a producer from the BBC programme ‘Heir Hunters’ came to film at CHAC today for background on Yeovil. Will try and report back next week if we are able to!

One of the maps to be digitised later on this month


Louisa Harris, 3rd from left seated at her home in No.2 Clarence Street, Yeovil. Louisa’s neighbours were the Edgar Family. Mr Edgar was the first business partner of J.B. Petter. Louisa Harris Family