We have enjoyed a busy and eventful week at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil.
Today we enjoyed the company of a lady organising a community history event at Queen Camel; a gentleman creating a photographic display for the Norton Sub Hamdon Festival in October 2017 and literally in the last few minutes, a farmer researching the Priory at Montacute.
The gentleman from ‘Norton’ was also a ‘Yeovilian’ and recounted a story of going to Vincent Street, Yeovil as a teenager to see a car powered by a propeller, which in his words, “was similar in principle to a hovercraft and designed he believed by a worker from Westland helicopters.”
We would be grateful if anyone can confirm this account please and even more significantly, actually provide documentary or photographic evidence!
The 2018 Yeovil Calendar will shortly be available.
Another notable example from the costume collection!
The Heritage Team were invited to a Local Food Producers Event at the newly refurbished Haynes International Motor Museum at Sparkford, Somerset on Wednesday 17th September. One member of staff and a volunteer went along with a display reflecting historical food producers from Yeovil and linked to the First World War. Two workers from Aplin and Barrett from Newton Road and Major R.H. Brutton from Brutton Breweries all died in the First World War and their obituaries were published in the Western Gazette newspaper. These were printed and placed alongside images of Aplin and Barrett cheese making facilities, St. Ivel Advertisements and Brutton Breweries in Princes and Clarence Street, Yeovil. We also took along bottles and flagons from our handling collection to further illustrate these companies, including Trasks of Vicarage Street, Yeovil together with a copy of a photograph of Vicarage Street from 1939, before the Quedam Shopping Centre was built.
The Food Producers Event was also an opportunity to highlight the Heritage Team’s 2015 Yeovil in Living Memory Calendar, which people found an interesting contrast to today. 44 people visited our display between 10.30am and 1.30pm.
There was also an opportunity to peruse the locally produced food, which included bread, cheese, ale and beers; plus a filling flapjack from Bruton Bakery!
On the way back through – there may have been time for the AC Cobra; Ford Mustang and the dainty emerald green Austin Seven.
The popular wartime propaganda of “Women of Britain say “Go!” came quite close to home at CHAC this week. In the last few weeks CHAC has received two donations relating to the Luffman and Jesty families. The staff were shocked to discover that one Yeovil boy, whose name is sadly inscribed on the town’s war memorial , was encouraged to sign up to fight by a young woman on a train.
The Jesty Family. Edgar George on right with his mother, father, four sisters and their cousin
Ernest George Jesty (pictured on the right) was just 17 when he enlisted to fight in the “Great War”. His family had recently emigrated to Canada but following the outbreak of War he and his father returned to England. They found work “doing there bit for the War Effort” at the Woolwich Arsenal. Working in a “Reserved Occupation” (i.e. Essential to the War Effort), meant that Edgar George was spared the horror of the trenches.
One day however, whilst passing through Salisbury on a train Edgar George Jesty was handed a white feather by a female passenger. The white feather was a sign of cowardice and young women handing them out to men in civilian dress to shame them into joining up became a common practice. Government propaganda targeted women to encourage men to join the armed forces. Edgar George was so convicted by this act that he left his job on the Home Front and volunteered for war.
The photograph above was taken in June 1916, not long after Edgar George signed up. Unfortunately, this is most likely the last family photo to feature Edgar George as he was listed as Missing on the 1s of July, The First Day of The Somme, and his death was confirmed some weeks later.
We don’t know how many other men from Yeovil or South Somerset were encouraged to sign up by the white feathers, but it would appear that had Edgar George not received the white feather that day he may never have signed up for war.