Public Eye

Public Eye


The following notice was given in Yeovil on 31st May 1870:


NOTICE is hereby given that at a meeting of the Council of the said Borough duly holden at the Town Hall on the 30th day of May it was ordered that no bicycles be used in any street, road or highway within the said Borough and notice is hereby given that any person using any bicycle contrary to the foregoing order will be prosecuted according to law.
Dated this 31st day of May 1870
James Curtis, Mayor

A Day Out

At the April 1891 meeting of the Yeovil Board of Poor Law Guardians a suggestion by the Workhouse Master that the aged and infirm inmates should be allowed to go out of the Workhouse on a specified day each month was referred to the House Committee for investigation. (The suggestion was subsequently approved)

Street Names

The Improvement Committee’s recommendation to the Borough Council on 10th April 1893 to adopt the line of two new roads from Huish to West Hendford was adopted. The Committee Chairman stated that the roads would be called ‘Beer Street’ and ‘Orchard Street’ to which one wit remarked that the latter should be changed to ‘Cider Street.’

The Boy Jeans Again

At the monthly meeting of the Yeovil Board of Poor Law Guardians in October 1895, the Master reported that two brothers named Sidney and John Jeans had played truant from school. They had walked to their home at Martock and were brought back by their sister. The Chairman, Mr. C. Trask, enquired whether this ‘was our old friend, John Jeans’ and the Master confirmed that it was. No further complaints had been received about the boy’s conduct at school. The Master stated that as punishment for the offence John Jeans had been kept in bed for two days, but added that the boy seemed to like such treatment.

The Sewerage Pipes

Back in the early 1900’s, the Borough Council had a great problem with the quality of the sewerage pipes bought by its Borough Surveyor, and the long running arguments over this question dominated meeting after meeting.

In the winter of 1902/3, pipes were being laid from the Pen Mill Sewage Works to the town, when a number suddenly collapsed due to defective construction. As a result the battles in the Council Chamber became fiercer and at the March meeting the Mayor, reminded members that there were such things as standing orders and what was their use if councillors would not abide by them. The Mayor added that in future he intended to be more strict with members and hoped that he should not ‘have the misfortune of falling upon them, whether Alderman or anyone else.’

The Council obviously took no notice of this request because after a two hours debate on the pipes question, it was reported in the Western Gazette that the meeting became very disorderly. The standing orders were readily forgotten, several members were speaking at the same time, and everyone seemed to be very confused. Such was the bewilderment, that Councillor Hayward voted against his own proposition and only realised his mistake after Councillor Bradford shouted ‘Why are you voting against your own resolution? What’s the matter with you!’ Councillor Hayward’s proposal that the defective portions of the sewer should be relaid in concrete was lost by a majority of one, presumably by the vote of its proposer!

The war would continue for several more years.

Mr Hayward’s Seat

When newly elected Councillor Mr. A.S. Hayward attended his first meeting of the Borough Council in December 1902, he had the temerity to sit near the top of the table alongside the Borough Officials. The Mayor pointed out to the new councillor that it was the custom of many years that ‘the gentleman last elected should sit at the lower end of the table.’

Councillor Hayward then took his proper place at the far end of the table.

A New Foreman

The Borough Council’s Foreman, Mr Hopkins, retired in September 1905 aged 74 after forty years service, and the Council agreed to retain his services for the management of the stables and general garden work for £1 per week.

It was agreed to appoint a new Foreman at a salary of 35 shillings a week (£1.20) with one shilling (5p) per week extra towards the expense of providing and repairing a bicycle.


A petition was handed to the Borough Council at its April 1912 meeting signed by residents of Hendford Hill complaining of the inadequate watering of the road as over 100 motor cars passed in one day and there was a continual whirl of dust. The petitioners pointed out that the Council watered the road so far as the railway bridge but it was not often that the water cart went all the way to the top of the Hill. The Borough Surveyor stated that the road was watered as often as any other on the outskirts of the town. He was supported by Councillor Buchanan who considered that the petition was not factual as he had seen the water cart on other parts of the Hill. Several councillors agreed with this observation and apart from acknowledging the petition, no action was taken.

A Night Shelter

At the Borough Council’s meeting on 10th June 1912, a letter was read from the Commercial Motor Users Association asking for a ‘night shelter for commercial vehicles’ to be provided in the Cattle Market. The enquiry was referred to the Markets Committee for attention.

What no Convenience?

The Improvement Committee reported to the Borough Council in December 1912 on the use of the old fire station in Vicarage Street as a public lavatory. The Committee recommended against such use on account of the cost and suggested that the building should be let. Alderman Boll protested as he strongly believed there was a need for a ladies public lavatory in the town and he proposed an amendment that the premises be let with the exception of a small corner at the entrance to Silver Street, which could be reserved for a ‘Ladies.’

Councillor Higdon considered that this would be a waste of public money and the site was unsuitable.. If the Council wanted to provide such a place there was the ideal spot near the spare wall by the Gas Works.
            After further discussion Alderman Boll’s amendment was defeated, the recommendation of the Improvement Committee adopted, and the old fire station was placed on the market for letting.


The Borough Council was in for a shock at the meeting in July 1922 when a bill for £32 10s. 0d. was presented for providing and fixing two plate glass windows for Messrs Hill and Boll’s showrooms in Princes Street. The windows had been smashed when some Council workmen blew up the roots of a nearby tree without taking the necessary precautions to prevent blast damage. Councillors were more than annoyed to find out that the man in charge of the demolition team had ignored advice on appropriate precautions.

Deadly Flowers

At the May of the Borough Council in 1923, Councillor Card asked if it would be possible to make a special day to clear flowers from the War Memorial as the old flowers quickly killed the new. The matter was referred to the Improvement Committee for attention.


At a meeting of the Borough Council in June 1946, in reply to a councillor who asked who was responsible for allowing the ‘junk sale’ in the Council Chamber, the Mayor said that it had been held there as it was the most suitable place. He explained that much of the material was war surplus already at the Council Offices and the ‘junk’ had raised £500. The Mayor stated that the sale would not happen again unless there was another war!

Jack Sweet
August 2017

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