Magnifying Memories

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

We supplied a selection of photographs to the Celebrating Entertainment in Yeovil Show, which marked the 40th Anniversary of the Johnson Hall and Octagon Theatre. This special film show was held at the Octagon Theatre on Sunday 10th July 2016 and all those that attended enjoyed the evening; especially the combination of singing on stage and the interviews in the film – including the memories of a female wrestler!

We also attended a meeting at the Somerset Heritage Centre at Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton to discuss the Somerset Collections Project and will report back on progress in future blogs.

One of our other highlights this week was a visit from a researcher to examine the Louisa Harris Diaries as a possible basis for a University dissertation.

The diaries are always a rewarding part of the collection to get out as they continue to provide new insights and inspiration. Louisa lived in Yeovil and wrote a diary between 1887 and 1926. The last 6 years were written in Weymouth, Dorset, where they moved to, but Louisa and her sisters are buried in Yeovil Cemetery, just off Preston Road. One of the intriguing aspects is that Louisa was (as we say today) a wheel chair user from a young age. We do not know the reason for this, but Louisa records “waiting at the bottom of South Cadbury until her friends came back, but was determined to see the thatched cottage at Ninesprings.”

The key thing was getting ‘professionally’ prepared for the researcher to view the diaries. Therefore, we set up a reading pillow and cleared the table of any cups or refreshments and suggested reading one at a time, leaving the majority of the small A5 notebooks in the acid free, archival box.

We thought we had planned this well, until the researcher asked for a magnifying glass as the writing was very small and tightly spaced together. We had laid a suitable foundation, but are always open to suggestions. The closer examination was particularly rewarding to see each individual letter and ‘magnify’ the memories contained therein.

We are also getting on well with our school loans boxes and will report back later.

On the enquiry side, we have received a fascinating request regarding coffee tables that were presented to Councils as part of the naming ceremonies of ‘named’ locomotives. ‘Yeovil’ was named on the 2 November 1945 and we are currently searching for the corresponding table! If anyone can help please let us know – More next week!


Just one of the fascinating Louisa Harris diaries.


Loan Boxes coming along well!





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