Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Mace of Life

A busy and fulfilling week, since our last posting from South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil.

Staff and volunteers enjoyed a visit from a gentleman on Wednesday to see our gloving collection. He was specifically interested in the ‘glove irons’ as he made them for Hallet of Yeovil, formerly one of the leading manufacturers of glove tools in Somerset and responded to a press release.

Staff have some knowledge of many aspects of the collection, but always appreciate visits from former staff of companies, as they actually worked for the companies concerned and therefore have a ‘working’ knowledge of the tools, which staff can only research through other sources.

How a ‘glove iron’ was made was particularly fascinating to learn, particularly the internal element to link into the electric socket base. Another intriguing factor was that glove webs took a week to make. This provided an idea of the impact made by imports, which were cheaper to produce, both in terms of material, production and staff costs.

Staff were also asked to provide a talk to the annual Macebearers Guild Conference, held at the Manor Hotel, Hendford, Yeovil on Thursday. With members present from Sussex, Yorkshire and Wells, we started by asking people’s perceptions of Yeovil. Answers included “Helicopters”; “Football” and “Cider”. We examined these points with the impact of the gloving industry on Yeovil and the United Kingdom and the surviving evidence. This was highlighted by Yeovil Football Team being known as “The Glovers” (Rather than the Choppers or Rotors!) and we considered the background behind the name.

Staff were presented with a plaque from the Macebearer’s Guild and everyone enjoyed the illustrations sent around. One favourite angle was how the venue, Manor Hotel, itself reflected the significance of the Yeovil gloving industry. The building  was built for a member of the Daniell family in 1776 a local banker and glover and Yeovil’s second Mayor, Frederick Greenham (Mayor in 1855-56) was also a leading glove manufacturer.

We also place our next Yeovil Library Display, this time on Edgar James Pulman ‘Jim’ born in Hendford, Yeovil in 1917 and part of the Pulman Bakery Family. This should be from Friday afternoon (around 4.30pm!)

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Mr Smith enjoying the Hallet and Sparrows of Martock gloving presses.

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Enjoying the plaque presented to the CHAC Collection from the Macebearer’s Guild!

Actively Arizona

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

Of particular interest was a recent ‘passive’ collection donated to us via Yeovil Library.

Most of the objects and photographs donated to CHAC are due to ‘passive’ collecting. This is where someone contacts staff, often by email or telephone to ask if we would like certain items. The opposite of this is ‘active’ collecting, where staff identify gaps in the collection and attempt to fill them, through actively doing something about it, often through a press release asking for specific objects to be donated. One example of this was the ‘Westland Aircraft 1914 – 1918’ Brochure, which came about as a result of asking for items during the Westland 100 Anniversary.

Two examples of ‘passive’ collecting this week started on Thursday with a call from Yeovil Library where a gentleman wanted to donate items related to an aircraft accident in Arizona, U.S.A, which had a connection to Yeovil. Rather intrigued, we asked when they would like to visit and they suggested right away. The call was very useful as this simply alerted us to expect the person, to also prepare the necessary paperwork and inform our colleagues if they came to the public reception, rather than our front door!

Upon arrival, the story emerged of John Leopold Gomm, from Yeovil, who had trained as an RAF pilot and then gone out to Mesa, Arizona for further activities during the Second World War. The central nature of the documents and photographs was recording his death due to an “aircraft accident” in August 1943 and the memorial in Falcon Field, Arizona. The documents sent a shiver through staff, as they include the original telegram informing John’s wife, Phyllis of 23, Sherborne Road, Yeovil of her husband’s death. There is also an official notice of condolence from Buckingham Palace and a colourful series of tourist postcards showing some of Arizona’s most popular attractions. The tone of this once simple document is altered completely by a simple cross in biro on the local map on the inside, which indicates The Falcon Field Memorial Graves for the pilots. Exactly what happened and why is the subject of further research.

There is also another mystery as the collection contains a black and white photograph of a ‘dancing lady’ inscribed “best wishes Phyllis” – which suggests this was obtained by John and sent home to his wife in Yeovil. This takes on an interesting meaning, when turning the image over to reveal a stamp of “The Windmill Theatre, London.”

CHAC Staff were also assisted by two Council Colleagues with a large donation of archaeological items.

We also experienced an interesting Thursday as the first afternoon without our Yeovil University Centre Students!

This week has illustrated once again that local people are being active on our behalf.

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Some of the items related to the “aircraft accident” in Mesa, Arizona involving John Leopold Gomm, we believe from Yeovil, Somerset.

Letter to P Gomm from Buckingham Palace345

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Our District Council Colleagues helping with a large donation of archaeological items.

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A Broad Gauge Platform

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

Highlights this week have included an invitation to a celebration of the Great Western Railway around Yeovil. This is due to be held at the Ninesprings Café, Yeovil on Wednesday 9th March 2016 from 2pm to 6pm. We were asked if CHAC had any objects or documents for a display at the event.

Staff searched the database and created a pdf document of relevant items to check and for future reference. The subsequent results proved remarkably intriguing and ranged from a porter’s peak cap to a ‘mustering ticket’ from Martock Station for GWR employees also belonging to the Home Guard.

In thought-provoking comparisons we have a dramatic photograph of a railway accident in 1913 and a small folded card with a poem commemorating those lives lost in the same tragedy. At the other end of the ‘social spectrum’ is a selection of receipts from the former Thorpe’s Chip Ship at Sherborne Road, Yeovil. The Chip Shop’s connection with the GWR lay with the large quantities of potatoes; fish and oil which were ordered and arrived by train. These will make another notable contrast with images of Yeovil Town Station and Hendford Halt, as well as photographs of the Chip Shop Itself!

The selection of the objects also helped when we were asked to provide a photograph to advertise the event!

This Thursday also saw the last weekly ‘staff led’ activity with our group of Yeovil University Centre Students, co-incidentally looking at Children’s Activities. We shared knowledge of our current activities including talks, archaeology finds afternoons and photograph afternoons. These emphasised CHAC’s location, as we tend to have bookable events, with around 20 places available and set at 2pm-4pm due to parking availability! However, we also looked at the events we have enjoyed ‘in the community’ with decorating cotton gloves when we met her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh and gargoyles at Milford Road Community Hall.

The afternoon was completed by some superb and imaginative word searches, mosaic floor title colouring and rather grand cotton glove decorating!

We also referred back to Social Media as we hosted a Social Media Training Workshop at SSDC Headquarters on Tuesday. The Trainer provided a particularly varied (and quite exotic sounding!) list of social media platforms for attracting new ‘followers’ to (and of) CHAC – which could be used to advertise our activities and tours – an exciting development.We wish to thank the Yeovil University Centre Students as the sharing of staff knowledge actually served to remind us of the significance of the processes we have in place and that we achieve quite a lot!

Some of the items we aim to display at the Yeovil GWR Afternoon on Wednesday 9th March 2016

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Some of the creativity created by the Yeovil University Centre Students

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‘Hire’ Education

We have enjoyed a busy and entertaining week at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, Yeovil, Somerset.

One of the highlights this week was a meeting with a donor of the Pulman Archive. Mr Pulman was a clergyman from Norton Sub Hamdon. This was particularly intriguing as our volunteer had been documenting the archive for nearly two years.

We have also enjoyed the company of a group of Yeovil University Centre Students. They have helped us to select a number of objects related to historical crime around the Yeovil area which is to be displayed at the Yeovil Town House in July 2016. These included some manacles and a whip and caused some amusement.

We have also looked at potential images for the 2017 Yeovil Calendar and considered different typefaces for the front cover.

The students commented about their experiences:

“This is an educational experience we would otherwise not have received.”

“I like touching all the antique objects, hands-on approach – with gloves on!”

“Really enjoyed looking at the old photographs and discovering that Yeovil is more than gloves and lactic cheese!”

“Enhanced work experience for my CV and knowledge of career opportunities.”

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