Autumn Exhibition 2022

Pubs of Yeovil - lost forever

Autumn Exhibition 2022 - presented by Yeovil's Virtual Museum




Yeovil has always had a lot of pubs - in fact, I discovered Yeovil had 147 (albeit not all at the same time) plus more than 100 un-named beerhouses. Indeed, between the 1860's and the 1960's there were always more than 50 pubs in the town - and this at a time when the town was much smaller than today.

Until the middle of the 20th century the vast majority of Yeovil's licensed premises were what might be classed as town centre pubs simply because the town itself was relatively small. Many of these were swept away in the wholesale redevelopment of Yeovil between the 1960's and the 1980's and the ubiquitous road widening schemes. Of course, with the increase in pub closures over the past few years and bending to the pressures of modern economics, quite a few former pubs have been converted into flats or demolished and replaced by small blocks of flats or other accommodation.

When I first moved to Yeovil in 1973 I had a map on the wall of my office with a red dot for each of the pubs in town I had visited within the first year of moving to Yeovil - all 40 of them. In those days our regular Gentlemen's Cultural Liquid Refreshment Perambulations (pub crawls) were relatively easy to organise and really didn't involve too much perambulating.

Sadly, there has been a steady national decline in the number of pubs, but with the recent problems brought about by Covid and the current cost of living crisis, the rate of pub closures has increased dramatically - not just in Yeovil, but in towns and cities across the country.

This exhibition highlights, alphabetically, those pubs that, for whatever reason, have closed since the 1960s. Clicking on each pub name will take you to the relevant page, with much more information and many more photos, in Yeovil's Virtual Museum.






The Albion
Vicarage Street

The Albion Inn was an old pub in Vicarage Street for many years almost opposite Frederick Place.

By the 1890s the Albion Inn was a tied house of the Royal Osborne Brewery, with a long lease owned by Earle Vincent.

When Vincent died in 1893, his estate was sold off the following year which included "the Albion Inn at Vicarage Street, at £22 (about £2,200 at today's value), and rented by Mr Hubert Beare."

It was rebuilt in 1937 by the brewery as a corner site public house at the junction of Vincent Street with Vicarage Street after Vincent Street was built.

The Albion finally closed on 27 March 1983 and demolition began on 30 May 1983, as part of the wholesale redevelopment of the area that became the Quedam shopping centre.



The Alexandra Hotel
South Western Terrace

Yeovil Town Station opened in 1861 and in 1885 the Alexandra Hotel, along with the rest of South Western Terrace, was built by Levi Ridout in its prime location to accommodate railway travellers.

A large, imposing building on a corner site and built to directly face the station and impress travellers - for many of whom it would be their first impression of Yeovil.

The new hotel was named, in a flurry of patriotism, after the popular Princess Alexandra of Denmark (1844-1925) became the consort of King Edward VII when they married in March 1863, shortly before the hotel opened. It closed around 2010, re-opened as a renamed hotel.



The Beach
Park Road

Converted from the old social club of the Southern Electric Board called the Wessex Social Club, it became an Australian-themed bar called Alice Springs in (I think) the 1990's, It was then called the Beach and was a haunt of the young and trendy - alas I no longer fit either category so only entered once, although I used to skittle here regularly when it was a social club. It is now an excellent Italian restaurant, Castello's.



The Britannia Inn
Vicarage Street

The Britannia Inn was originally a fine 17th century two-storey brick house with stone and ashlar to the front elevation with a double-storey projecting bay.

It served as a public house from 1861 - after the closure of the first Britannia Inn listed in Belmont from 1842 to 1861. This second Britannia Inn was demolished, brick by brick, in 1969 and the materials used to build a private house at Ash.



The Coronation Hotel & Vaults
Middle Street

The Coronation Hotel & Vaults was an impressive, albeit relatively short-lived, establishment in Middle Street, on the north side of the Triangle. It was built around 1900 on the site of the Blue Ball Inn, itself a pub with an apparently short lifespan.

The Coronation Hotel & Vaults, owned by Mitchell, Toms and Company, opened on Thursday 17 July 1902 and was designed by architect Arthur Yeomans.

The Coronation Hotel & Vaults was finally demolished around 1965 as part of the Glovers Walk shopping complex redevelopment. It had served Yeovil for only some fifty years before succumbing to the 'progress' of 1960's concrete and steel architecture - unfortunate for such a grand building and what was surely the most architecturally impressive of Yeovil's watering holes.



Crown Inn

Although the Crown was listed as early as 1835, it is not likely that the early Crown Inn was the building photographed here, which is clearly later in style (possibly 1880's or 1890's) and even had a dance hall upstairs. This later version, with the appearance of a purpose-built public house, was more likely to have been owned and rebuilt at a later date by one of Yeovil's breweries as a tied house.

The Crown Inn closed during the 1970s and for many years was used as the regional office for Bass Brewers. The building was demolished in 1991 as part of the Tesco redevelopment.



Duke of Clarence
Stars Lane

The early history of the Duke of Clarence is something of a mystery. Certainly the inn was once known as the Fives Court Inn due to the presence of a fives court at the rear of the premises. The date of this is unknown but is likely to have been during the 18th century, albeit not in the current building. After being known as the Fives Court Inn for many years, by 1790 it was known as the White Hart until the mid-1860's when it is thought the building was rebuilt and assumed the name Duke of Clarence.

The Duke of Clarence was also colloquially known as the "Young Buck", which must have been a hangover from the days the pub was called the White Hart. It closed in 1965 and in recent years has been run as a succession of bars.



Duke of Wellington
Sherborne Road

The Duke of Wellington was operating as a beerhouse by 1869 at which time it was adjoining a private house called Medina Cottage which later (after 1881) became part of the public house.

Judging by its proximity to the Royal Osborne Brewery, it almost certainly was a tied house of that brewery.

The Duke of Wellington closed (I think) in the very late 1980s and was finally demolished in November 1992.



Duke of York

Another of Yeovil's old public houses, records go back to at least 1822 when John Swaffield was the landlord. However, this was not housed in the present building, which was rebuilt after 1905. It had a fortunately brief spell when it was renamed "Buddy's", but soon reverted to the Duke of York. It closed in the mid-1990s and the building was sold. It re-opened as the Conservative Club - which it remains today.



Elephant and Castle Inn
Sherborne Road

The Elephant and Castle Hotel was a purpose-built public house / hotel that opened in 1860 on the corner of Lower Middle Street and Wyndham Street.

The Elephant and Castle closed in 1977 although the building survives.

At the end of the building a low archway, or porte-cochere, with decorative stone surround and double doors gives the impression that it leads to stabling, which it may have done in the past, however because the Elephant and Castle occupies a corner plot the rear is wedge-shaped and very tiny so any stabling would have, by necessity, been to the side of the building.



St Michaels Avenue

The Fleur de Lys was built in 1936 to serve the Mudford Road / St Michaels Avenue area where much inter- and post-war housing was being developed. In that sense it is a typical 'estate' pub of the period, red brick under a tiled roof in much the same vein as the Green Dragon, Milford Inn, Royal Standard and the Sun.

The Fleur de Lys closed during the summer of 2014 and is now a Co-op outlet.



Flying Machine (New Inn)
Middle Street

This pub was originally called the New Inn. I'm not sure when it first opened its doors as the name 'New Inn' was traditionally applied to a former inn on the site that had been rebuilt after some disaster or other, such as a fire. It is highly probable that such a previous inn was on the site because of its prime town centre location.

In this case, however, it may have been that the old inn fronted onto Middle Street but was demolished when Bond Street was laid out and constructed around 1830-35 by Peter Daniell, probably by the Crewkerne United Breweries Co. Ltd, whose name was inscribed above the corner doorway - this would fit in with the building's architectural style of the 1840's.

In the 1960's had a brief spell as Applegate's Wine & Spirits shop and in the 1970's it re-opened as a public house named the Flying Machine. Now, of course, it is a branch of the Nationwide Building Society.



George Inn/Hotel
Middle Street

The George Inn began life as a private dwelling, built during the 1400’s and from 1478 it was owned (among other licensed premises) by the Trustees of Woborn's Almshouse, who continued to own it until 1920. It was originally, at least from 1642, called the Three Cups Inn, there already being a George Inn in High Street. It would appear that the Three Cups was renamed the George around 1720.

The George was a timber-framed building over low stone walls with a jettied (upper floor projecting beyond the dimensions of the floor below) upper storey in the style of a Wealden house. Indeed the George was regarded as the most westerly example of this style of domestic architecture usually found in the southeast of England.

The demise of the George, the last remaining secular Medieval building in the town, is a sorry tale indeed. In the early 1960’s the Council, in its wisdom, decided that Middle Street needed widening and that the George had to be demolished as part of the road widening scheme, widely opposed by public opinion. The pub was, sadly, demolished in 1962 but it transpired after demolition that the Council did not own the land and the road widening scheme could not progress and so the pavement where the pub had stood simply jutted out into Middle Street as it always had. Within ten years this section of Middle Street was turned into a pedestrian precinct, obviating the need for a road widening scheme anyway.



Globe & Crown
South Street

The Globe and Crown is first recorded in 1839 as a beerhouse following the enactment of the Beerhouse Act 1830. The architectural style of today's building, combined with an apparent hiatus in the written records, would suggest that the Globe and Crown was rebuilt and became licensed as a public house proper during the late 1860's or early 1870's. It closed in late spring 2022 and is to be re-used as a homeless shelter.



Glovers Arms

The Glovers Arms was originally a 17th century farmhouse at the bottom of Reckleford Hill. It was the home of the Isaac family until the death of yeoman Samuel Isaac in 1849. The building had certainly been a pub since the 1850’s, and was given its name after the demise of the first Glovers Arms - a beerhouse in Brunswick Street. The Glovers Arms closed around 2005 following several fires and has now been converted to flats.



Great Western
Camborne Grove

A very late 19th century public house, clearly built to serve travellers using Pen Mill railway station and the local domestic market of Camborne Grove, Camborne Place and Camborne Street. It was, for its first year or so, known as the Camborne Inn.

The Great Western closed around 2015 and was converted to flats.



Green Dragon
St Michael's Avenue

Another of those architecturally dreary estate pubs of the 1950’s that were built to serve the new estates being constructed as part of the ever-expanding Yeovil town.

As a consequence most, like the Green Dragon, were populated with a very local clientele who tended to cold-shoulder strangers.

Opening on 18 December 1957 with the Western Gazette calling it "Yeovil's most modern public house". It closed at the beginning of 2016, was soon demolished and a Co-op outlet built on the site.



The Greyhound
South Street

The Greyhound had not always been in the building we see today. The original two-story building was a far simpler brick structure with mullioned windows under a thatched roof. It is thought that the old Greyhound Inn building was demolished and the new Greyhound Inn building, much larger than its predecessor, was built around 1906. After it closed in the late 1990s, the building was left empty for many years. It is now The Keep hotel.



Half Moon Hotel
Silver Street

The Half Moon Inn in Silver Street was open from at least 1709, when it was mentioned in a Deed of Property. It was presumably named as such to distinguish it from the Full Moon just across the Borough in Wine Street.

The Half Moon closed in the 1970s.




Hole in the Wall
Wine Street

This pub was originally known as the Queen's Head, changing to the Queens Arms around 1840 and had been trading at least since 1766. By 1866, after the demise of the beerhouse named the Royal Oak, it was renamed as the Royal Oak or the Royal Oak Inn.

During the late 20th century it was renamed the Hole In The Wall and became a restaurant called the Green Room circa 2005.



Hollands Inn
Mudford Road

This area between Ilchester Road and Mudford Road, now mostly occupied by the Yeovil College campus, has been named Hollands at least since 1590 after the de Hollande family, Earls of Kent, who held Kingston Manor to the end of the reign of Richard II (1377-1399).

Similarly, the name of the public house was therefore nothing to do with imported Dutch gin as has been suggested more than once. Closing in the mid-1970s, the Hollands Inn is now a private house off a small private drive, itself off Mudford Road immediately past the bus stop next to the exit of Yeovil College.



King's Arms
Silver Street

The Kings Arms Inn had stood for many years in Silver Street but had been known as the Bunch of Grapes and the Grapes Inn and even into the 1940's had, as a sign, a bunch of grapes suspended from a wrought iron bracket.

It is most likely that this public house traded as the Bunch of Grapes until about 1855.

A major fire in 1835 destroyed the building, along with several other premises. Following the fire all the premises from the Kings Arms to the Pall Tavern were rebuilt further back from the road so that Silver Street could be widened - so nothing is new!



Market Street Inn
Market Street

The Market Street Inn was just a few yards along Market Street from the Pall and backed on to the cattle market.

It enjoyed special traditional market day opening hours that meant that farmers and dealers attending the market could get a 'wet' breakfast at something like seven in the morning.

Several pubs in Yeovil were allowed special market day opening hours on Fridays, basically staying open all day at a time when most pubs only opened for three hours at lunchtime and then closed for the afternoon, opening again later for the evening session. A 'market day afternoon' was once a rare treat, now almost forgotten with today's relaxed 'open all day' licensing laws.



Mermaid Hotel
High Street

The 'Merm' was the oldest surviving licensed premises in Yeovil until it permanently closed in 2019, with the earliest mention in the records being in 1517. Around 1760 "... the whole House (except two Rooms in Front)..." was rebuilt. Originally, of course, the Mermaid was much smaller than it is today, being only that part from the arch and to the east; that part now 1a and 1b High Street to the west of the arch was originally built as a single town house in the late eighteenth century.

The Mermaid finally closed in the summer of 2019.



Milford Inn
Milford Road

One of Yeovil's architecturally uninspired 1950's estate pubs. It had been struggling for years and finally closed in 2012. It is now flats.

I did visit once - in the mid-1970's - and it was so unwelcoming I never dared return.



Nag's Head Inn

The Nags Head Inn was located on Reckleford, more or less opposite the Black Horse but a few buildings further down the hill. It first appeared in the records in 1851 and continued trading until the 1960s. It was demolished in 1963 for the building of Yeovil's Inner Relief Road (that part making Reckleford a dual carriageway) and its location would have been roughly where the current central reservation is now.



Nelson Inn
Eastland Road

The Nelson Inn was a purpose-built corner site public house built on what is now the northern corner of the Eastland Road / Gordon Road intersection in the late 1860's to serve the New Town area that encompassed today's Eastland Road, Gordon Road, Eastville, Southville, Westville, Mount Pleasant, Grass Royal and so on. The Nelson Inn closed around 2002 and was later converted to flats.



Picketty Witch
Ilchester Road

The Picketty Witch was built in the 1930's by N&C Partridge Ltd, of North Lane, to serve the rapidly expanding housing in the vicinity. The late 1960's pop group, Pickettywitch, named themselves after the pub after visiting on the way back from a gig. The Picketty Witch finally closed in late 2012 and was converted into yet another Tesco Express.



The Plucknett
Preston Road

The Plucknett started as a private residence, called Preston House, being turned into a hotel during the mid-20th century.

Although it has traded as a hotel in the past, it was styled as a 'traditional pub' with no hint of accommodation. From its appearance, the Plucknett was probably built around 1840.

The Plucknett closed around 2015 and is currently a veterinary practice.


Porter Black's

Porter Black's was a relatively short-lived Irish theme pub that opened around 1995 and closed in 2006. It is currently (2022) vacant.

The large three-storey corner building in the Triangle was erected for the Co-operative Society as offices and retail space in 1910 and has been occupied by many businesses during the years.



Red Lion Hotel

Although the earliest reference dates to 1667, it had probably been an inn for many years before that. Having said that, the Red Lyon of 1667 may have been at a different location or an earlier building. Certainly the Red Lion in Kingston was shown on Edward Bullock Watts' map of 1804 and has verified licensees from the 1820s. The Red Lion was demolished in 1966 as part of the widening of Reckleford and Kingston.



Somerset Inn
Preston Road

The records of the Somerset Inn begin in 1841. The inn sign was the badge of the local regiment, the Somerset Light Infantry or, as they were known in the 1850's, the 13th Prince Albert's Regiment of Light Infantry.

The Somerset Inn closed around the year 2000. It was demolished and a block of flats, Somerset Court, now stands on the site.


Sun Inn
Monmouth Road

The Sun Inn was built in the mid-1950's to serve the local area where much inter- and post-war housing was being developed. In that sense it was a typical uninspiring 'estate' pub of the period. The Sun Inn closed in 2003 and was quickly demolished in early 2004, despite local protestations, and replaced with a block of flats, Seymour Court.


Swan Inn
Park Street

The Swan Inn was one of Yeovil's first beerhouses, opening in March 1830, in the wake of the Beerhouse Act 1830. In the early twentieth century the Swan was owned by Brutton's Brewery, later Brutton, Mitchell Toms Ltd. who were taken over by Charrington & Co Ltd, London, in 1960. It was around this time that the Swan ceased trading. Today the building is the Swan Theatre.


Three Choughs Hotel

The records clearly indicate that the Three Choughs was operating by 1664. The building, as well as other licensed premises (the Pall Tavern and the George Inn), was at one time owned by the Woborn Almshouse and the rent of the building provided income for the Almshouse. The Three Choughs closed in 2004 and has since been converted into offices and flats.


Wellington Inn
Wellington Street

The Wellington Inn was two-thirds of the white building in the photo at left and the plans show it had a servery with a wall hatch to the bar, a smoke room and a private room which was probably the private living room for the landlord.

The Wellington Inn was demolished around 1968 to clear the area for the construction of the Wellington Street flats.


Westfield Hotel
Stiby Road

The Westfield Hotel opened in January 1938 and was a purpose-built establishment catering for the large housing estates built in the inter-war period in the area of Coronation Avenue, Stiby Road and Westfield Road. The Westfield Hotel was demolished in September 1996 and flats, Raglan Terrace, was built on the site in 1998.



The Westminster
Westminster Street

The Westminster had been trading as a beerhouse since at least 1861, with a short break in the late 1960's when it was used as offices by Bass Charrington.

It started life as the Heart of Oak, changing to the Hearts (plural) of Oak after the Second World War.

It spent a while in the late 1970's as the Yeovil Wine Bar and it had a brief spell as the Chopper Bar in the late 1980’s, since when it was called the Westminster - finally closing in the spring of 2022.



White Horse
St Michael's Avenue

The earliest record of the White Horse dates back to 1851, although not in the present building which dates to around 1900.

A tied house of Brutton's Brewery of Yeovil, it was acquired by Charrington & Co Ltd in 1960. The White Horse closed in 2009 and has been converted into flats. 



White Lion

The White Lion building seen here was not the original building and probably dated to the 1890s. In March 1930 the Western Gazette published a contribution from a Yeovilian in which he wrote "Fifty years ago the White Lion Inn and adjoining shop were a long, low thatched roof building. In those bygone days a thatched roof was a very common sight."

The White Lion closed in the early 1970s.



Wine Vaults
Wine Street

The early history of the Wine Vaults is somewhat complicated; it was certainly operating in 1824 as a wine merchant's but appears to have operated as a tavern as well throughout the 19th century. The present building dates from 1877. The Wine Vaults shut as a pub in 2007 and has since  gone through several guises as a café / mezze bar.



Yew Tree Inn
Forest Hill

Built in the second half of the nineteenth century, the Yew Tree Inn was originally the farmhouse of Yew Tree Farm. The Forest Hill area was developed from 1967, with a small shopping centre, church and community centre.

It was felt by the developers and brewers Eldridge Pope of Dorchester, that a public house would be a useful addition to the area.

It closed sometime during the early 2000's and reopened briefly as the horrendously overpriced 'La Olivia' restaurant which, not surprisingly, failed miserably. It then briefly reopened as a public house, but finally closed on 26 June 2004.


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