Another busy and involving week since our last posting from South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil.
Highlights this week have included preparing items for loan to Bruton Museum, another accredited site- with condition photographs taken and objects wrapped to support them during transit.
Staff have also met with a Mentor for their Associateship of the Museums Association (AMA)
One of the key public enquiries so far came in the form of historical information regarding 24-28 Princes Street, Yeovil, following the discovery of a photograph showing this to be a piano dealer at one time.
One of our favourite aspects at CHAC is helping to answer enquiries using the resources available to us in the collection.
The first thought was before using precious time to find all the images of Princes Street, we determined exactly where 24-28 Princes Street was located, in relation to other buildings in the Street. We achieved this by looking through the Peall & Co Estate Agent Index Cards. This former estate agent series of drawers includes all the properties dealt with by the Agents and is helpfully catalogued from A-Z. Searching in the drawer for ‘P’ we found ’24 Princes Street’ and an image on the Index Card of 24 Princes Street dated 18.2.1998 showing John Hart and Partners Opticians. This relatively recent image helped us further to appreciate how things have changed in a relatively short space of time.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the search is then comparing and contrasting this source with another, that might be slightly older. Always trying to go back further with supporting evidence is crucial. Helpfully, we then turned to the planning documents and discovered “Plan No: 8696 Alteration to entrance door, Ryburn House, Princes Street for J. Hart.” Interestingly this had handwritten underneath “16.8.66 work not carried out.” Therefore, we were able to link something that was familiar in the photograph with a new piece of evidence in the documents – that was waiting to be discovered and brought together by the enquiry.
The benefit of having digital images of our photographs on our collection database soon became apparent when we searched under ‘Princes Street’ and there revealed was a photograph showing the end of a building with ‘Piano Dealer’ in the window.
Staff also discovered that in 1923 a Mrs A M Castle, Grocer was at 24 Princes Street.
Leslie Brooke in his “Yeovil History in Street Names” notes the following: “By 1853, the name Princes Street replaced “Cattle Market” – a more dignified title to a street which by then contained premises of a substantial character housing some of the more prosperous businessman of the town – thereby removing the anomaly of a street being partly in three separate manors so far as addresses were concerned. One wonders whether the new name commemorated the Prince Consort, despite the omission of an apostrophe, or whether it was in honour of the two infant princes, Edward and Alfred.”
Evidence used in the 24-28 Princes Street Enquiry – Photograph Courtesy of Peall & Co Ltd.