We’re taking a break from our Fishy Friday’s this week to bring to you a very special blog about CHAC’s Centenary project, “Remembering: The First World War in South Somerset”.
The Heritage Team welcomed members of staff to South Somerset District Council Brympton Way Council Chamber for a special free commemorative lecture. This was designed as a ‘run through’ for a series of lectures in different venues around Yeovil starting in August 2014. We looked at Yeovil just before the outbreak of War and the contribution made by companies like Petter Westland; the gloving industry and agriculture plus caring for injured soldiers in the Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospital in South Street, Yeovil. Several helpful comments were received and the aim is to produce two further lectures looking at written evidence of the First World War in Yeovil and South Somerset and a special commemorative lecture on November 11. Thank you to all staff that came along.
On Tuesday two of the staff from the Community Heritage Access Centre were lucky enough to meet, and record some interviews, with a BBC journalist in the centre of Yeovil. We took along some photographs of the First World War and walked the route that the soldiers marching off to the town train station would have taken. Clare, our Heritage Co-ordinator described the view that could be seen from the steps of the Liberal Club looking up Middle Street and compared the photo to the present day.
It was amazing to imagine how the scene must have felt for the men who were leaving Yeovil and the familys and well-wishers coming to see the soliders off but also quite sad to think how many of the men never made it home again.
Next we travelled up to Reckleford to the site of Petters Ltd , the munitions factory, which is now a depot for the towns buses. It was crazy to see just how much of the old building had survived even down to work benches, iron winches in the roof and metal tracks under the grass behind the building. The bus depot staff were really helpful and we could tell they were really interested in the history of the depot. We looked at old photos and talked about the staff who worked here, namely a lady called Alice Partridge and a man called Fitzherbert Glass.
Alice Partridge (far right in the glasses) and two other women at the Nautilus Works in Reckleford. The winches and tracks that can be seen in the photo still exist to this day.
All in all it was a fantastic couple of hours and we really enjoyed it! Look out for us on BBC/WW1 soon, and be sure to check out all of the other amazing stories about the First World War in Somerset that are featured too!