Yeovil people

Henry Thomas Balls

Newsagent, Stationer, Bookseller and Postcard Publisher


Henry Thomas Balls, was a printer and bookseller and, in his role as publisher of postcards, left a wonderful collection of postcards depicting Yeovil during the Edwardian period - see the Gallery below.

Henry  was born in Acton, Middlesex, on 1 November 1874 and baptised on 13 June 1875 at the church of St Mary and All Saints, Acton. He was the son of plumber, painter and glazier Thomas Balls (1844-1910) and Julia A née Leeds (1847-1934). Thomas and Julia had four children; Jane Maria (1872-1968), Henry, William Isaac (1880-1886) and Ernest Robert (1884-1922).

In the 1881 census the family were living in Acton. Thomas gave his occupation as a plumber and 6-year old Henry was listed as a scholar. The family were still living in Acton at the time of the 1891 census in which Thomas gave his occupation as a plumber, painter and glazier while 16-year old Henry was working as a newspaper lad.

During the next decade, Henry moved to Yeovil and the 1901 census listed him as a boarder living with a gas fitter, William Tucker, and his family in the former gasworks manager's accommodation at the town gas works (see Gallery) in Middle Street. 28-year old Henry
 gave his occupation as a bookseller's clerk.

In the spring of 1902, at Yeovil, Henry married Rosella Tucker (1870-1931). They were not to have children.

After working for WH Smith & Son for sixteen years, Henry opened his own premises in Middle Street on Monday 22 June 1903. He described himself as a stationer, newsagent and bookseller.

There are very few references to Henry after the 1911 census, although several newspaper advertisements of the 1920s refer to him as a stationer, bookseller and newsagent - variously located in the Triangle or Middle Street (frequently No 94 - but bear in mind the street has been renumbered at least once) and Sherborne Road. In the 1954 edition of Edwin Snell's Directory, HT Balls was listed as a newsagents and stationers of Sherborne Road.

Rosella died in Yeovil on 5 January 1931. She was aged 61. Henry, of 91 Sherborne Road, died there on 29 May 1954, aged 74. His will was proved the following March at Bristol and his effects were valued at £4,386 5S (around £250,000 at today's value).




The entry of Henry's baptism in the parish register of St Mary and All Saints, Acton.


Courtesy of Colin Haine

Middle Street, circa 1905. At left are the gasworks offices (most recently an outlet of St Margaret's Hospice). At this time Henry was boarding in the gasworks offices (which had earlier also been the gasworks manager's home) with a gas fitter and his family.


An advertisement placed in the 19 June 1903 edition of the Western Chronicle announcing the opening of Henry's premises on the following Monday.


Getting ready for the 1922 annual Yeovil carnival outside Henry's shop premises.


A selection of postcards by Henry Thomas Balls of Yeovil


From my collection

Probably one of Henry's earliest postcards (the George Hotel at left still has its structural woodwork plastered over) dating to around 1903.


From my collection

Without doubt one of Henry's first postcards - this one of Ninesprings Cottage was posted in 1903, just after he had set himself up in business in Yeovil.


From my collection

A postcard of 1905 published by HT Balls of Yeovil. This image was used on postcards into the 1920s.


From my collection. This image features in my book 'Yeovil - The Postcard Collection'.

A hand-coloured postcard, post-marked 1906, of the Wesleyan Methodist chapel in Vicarage Street.


From my collection

This postcard of the Borough by Henry Thomas Balls was posted in 1907.


From my collection

Although dating to around 1905, this postcard by Henry was used well into the 1920s.


From my collection

A postcard of Sidney Gardens dating to 1905 and published by HT Balls of Yeovil. Again, this image was used on postcards into the 1920s.


From my collection

Another view of Sidney Gardens, this time hand-coloured and looking east.


From my collection

Between 1904 and 1908, Henry produced a range of at least six 'multiview' cards featuring different pairs of photographs but all containing a crest of Yeovil, as this example. He also produced several landscape 'multiviews' each featuring the five or seven different photographic views.