Tag Archives: Railway

Frome On Track

On Thursday 23rd August 2018, we hosted 40 members of the Frome Society for Local Study, helped by our volunteer team.

One of our Frome connections was highlighted in one of our earliest photographs, with the following information on the back.

L & S.W Railway Locomotive ‘Frome’ c1860P271 1

“One of the first passenger engines employed at the Yeovil Town Station. Original photograph taken c1860-1.

On the foot plate are the driver, John Knight, who later became the licensee of the Half Moon Hotel.

Matthew Woods (centre figure) the loco foreman and William Greenaway, Fireman. William Dyer (not in the Picture) was the cleaner. He eventually became a driver and died in Yeovil in 1922.

This photograph is a rarity as the Driver had used the company’s coal, oil and engine on a Sunday in order for the photograph to be taken. When found out, he was taken up to Nine Elm’s Shed and severely reprimanded. He was then told to hand over all photographs and copies to be destroyed. This one, however, escaped, as did the original negative!”


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!




Discoveries and Battles

This week has been a week of discoveries, some good, some bad.  The only known photograph of the Railway Inn, Middle Street (not Hendford) was discovered in the collection.


You can see The Railway Inn here on the left of the photograph, the photograph was catalogued as Middle Street with no further details given.  Staff and volunteers are currently going through the photograph collection to update the descriptions and to give more detail.

Staff were also asked if we had any photographs of the old Telephone Exchange, now Telford House in Clarence Street.  We discovered we had two, not very good ones, one of the Exchange in the distance when the site for Tesco’s was being developed in 1991 and one of machinery being unloaded just in front of it in 1970.  So if you have any photographs of the building we would be interested to hear from you.

Staff have also been organising a screening of the film, the Battle of the Somme, at Yeovil Library on 1.7.2016 in partnership with the Imperial War Museum.  It will take place from 2.30pm – 4.30pm, is free, on a first come, first served basis and toilet facilities are available.  Look out for further details in the press.


Mainline Attraction

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

Our week started at a new, exciting event in the form of the first “South West Learning Symposium.”

The Symposium was held at the rather grand West of England Academy of Art in Bristol. We enjoyed talks from the Director of the Academy on the ‘Happy Museum’ initiative; a key contact from the Museum of East Asian Art on working with paid facilitators for special projects and the latest work of the South West Heritage Trust, based in Taunton, Somerset.

After lunch, staff were divided into groups to share in smaller ‘break out’ sessions on subjects including reminiscence with senior participants and safeguarding of staff for children’s activities.

Wednesday saw staff and volunteers take a display for a Great Western Railway event. This was held at the Ninesprings Café in Yeovil Country Park. Our initial understanding was for a display and artefacts related to the G.W.R for regional railway groups to enjoy when they visited the café in three groups. As it turned out on the day, delegates were attending a two-day conference with an evening meal at the Manor Hotel and the main conference at Yeovilton Fleet Air Arm Museum, the following day. A particular highlight was seeing each group of delegates appear outside the cafe as they completed their walk of the old track bed up from their arrival at Pen Mill Station.

Our display was a combination of the traditional 3-panel blue board and actual main collection objects and documents. The board featured close-up maps showing the former  Hendford Halt and Town Stations together with the remaining Pen Mill and Yeovil Junction Stations. We then placed photographs of the old Town Station building and events that had happened at each station alongside the maps. These included First World War Soldiers leaving Pen Mill Station to join the front.

The objects were housed in three resin cases and featured a G.W.R porter’s cap; a G.W.R porter’s collar band and eight G.W.R brass buttons together with intriguing documents like a ‘mustering card’ for railway employees that were also part of the Home Guard and a reference for a G.W.R employee requesting a reference for a council house! We also had details of a railway accident at Pen Mill in 1913, but as many people had arrived by train at Pen Mill Station– this was available ‘on request!’

Our 2-6pm time was also a different experience for our volunteers from regular documentation work!

Staff completed the week with a visit to a gentleman and his wife in Yeovil as they had responded to our press release on glove irons. They had both worked for a local glove company. They also let us know of the World War Two rear bomber gunners who got so cold that they could not operate the guns on the aircraft- and these were the first of the crew to be killed by enemy fire as they were able to hit the faster fighters. Yeovil (and other centres of glove production) came to the rescue (literally) by making fur-lined gloves with heated elements that could plugged into the cockpit – like an electric blanket. Staff would very much like to find a pair!

Part of our display for (and at!) Ninesprings Cafe, Yeovil Country Park for the Great Western Railway Community Rail Conference 2016.




(Courtesy of Yeovil Tourist Information Centre)


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



Some of the creativity created by the Yeovil University Centre Students




Back on Track

Back on Track

A Happy New Year from everyone at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil.

A busy week so far with requests to learn about our Yeovil Calendar from a local Museum; a booking for a talk on Louisa Harris Diaries 1887-1920 for March 2016 and a visit from a researcher to help with objects and photographs related to the Yeovil Show.

An intriguing element came just before Christmas. This reminded staff of the two-way process involved with learning from local people and local history.

Our Yeovil 2016 Calendar features Yeovil Town Football fans at a railway station awaiting departure to see Yeovil Town play Manchester United in the fifth round of the FA Cup in the 1948 / 1949 Season.

Based on existing information, we stated this to be Yeovil Town Station. However, we received the following contact:

“The front cover photograph is fans seeing off the team at Yeovil Pen Mill station.  The contact’s husband was the youngest player for the Yeovil Town team and he is in the photograph along with the other players including Alec Stock.  The chap on the right wearing a trilby and a rosette next to the old man in the flat cap is Fred Voizey who worked at the Evening Post offices in Yeovil.  Mr Hamilton is the chap to Fred Voizey’s right – left as you look at it.  The Evening Post offices were in Princes Street where the florist is now.”

To some extent, we could see this as a mistake. However, this also shows that Museums need to keep receptive and keep learning; rather than become complacent and think they know everything about a given subject; examples in Yeovil’s case, being gloving or football. There will always be another piece of information or another memory to offer a new or different perspective on existing knowledge.

P1142 Yeovil Town Supporters 1948 49 Season Bristol Evening Post829




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!