Yeovil Trades & Traders

charles john hook

Proprietor of the Golden Canister


Charles John Hook was born in Bridgwater in 1854 and he and his wife Sarah, born in Monckton, Somerset, moved to Yeovil around 1885.

Certainly by the time of the 1891 census they were living above their shop on the north side of Middle Street, next door but one to the entrance to Frederick Place, under the sign of the 'Golden Canister'. The building, of three storeys and three bays with simple fenestration above street level remains today.

Living with them in 1891 were sons Frederick, Clifford and Herbert who were all born in Bridgwater, and William, Maggie and Mary who were all Yeovil-born. Also living in were two grocers' assistants and a grocers' apprentice, as well as two general domestic servants.

Charles was a Freemason, initiated into the Lodge of Brotherly Love in Yeovil in 1887. He served as Worshipful Master of the Lodge in 1896. He was a Governor of the Yeovil Boys County School and the photograph above left is taken from a 1909 photograph of the school governors and staff.


In the 1891 edition of 'Where to Buy' Charles Hook's business was given the following description -

Mr Charles J Hook
Proprietor of the 'Golden Canister Supply Stores',
14, Middle Street

The secret of success in business consists, to a very large extent, not only in supplying goods of reliable quality and at reasonable prices, but also in quickly perceiving the public wants from time to time, and promptly meeting them. In this respect, the enterprise of Mr Hook, of the 'Golden Canister Supply Stores', Middle Street, has been of an exceptional character, and has commanded a signal success. Some six years since, Mr Hook took these extensive premises, where there had been for many years a grocery business conducted on the old lines, and immediately went for the new style of doing business, i.e., issuing a well-arranged and exhaustive price list free to all customers, and giving the benefits of the 'tore or co-operative system to all cash buyers - an advantage which up to that time had not been given by any other trader in the town. In one special department he has led the way, and has scored such a decided hit that his example has been followed out by other houses in the trade, viz., in the establishment of a patent medicine department, retailing these goods at store prices. It is unnecessary to point out the advantage this branch must be both in town and country.

Mr Hook is always on the alert to keep well abreast of the public demands, and to supply all goods as soon as he perceives a market for them. The following are a few of the special departments - Teas, coffees (which are roasted daily on the premises by an improved roaster, thus ensuring the freshness so necessary), general groceries, colonial and Italian produce, provisions, proprietary articles, patent medicines, toilet requisites, aerated and foreign natural waters, perfumery, brushes, Australian and American tinned meats and fruits, &c, in every one of which will be found goods of a very high standard, and offered at a price that, to say the very least, will compare with any store in the kingdom.

Mr Hook's enterprise has been amply rewarded by the large patronage he has secured. The premises are peculiarly well situated for the convenience of customers and the internal arrangements are in every way suited to a large business. The purity and high quality of the goods are ensured by the system of purchasing the stock from the very best sources of supply, while the cash system which Mr Hook adheres to with the large wholesale houses, enables him to purchase on the most advantageous terms, and to offer his goods to the public at the lowest market prices, making the name of Hook and the 'Golden Canister' household words for many miles around.



By the time of the 1901 census Frederick, Clifford and Herbert had replaced three of the young ladies as grocers' assistants, plus there was a live-in assistant, a cook and a housemaid. Charles Hook died in Yeovil in the spring of 1929, aged 74.

Following Charles' death his son Frederick amalgamated CJ Hook & Sons with the Western Counties Stores Ltd in the Borough as from 29 May 1933.




Charles Hook
(Photo from 'Where to Buy at Yeovil' 1891)


Charles Hook's advertisement in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1892.


Charles Hook's Golden Canister supply stores from an early advertisement. It would appear that at this time Yeovil was populated by midgets.



Courtesy of Olly Ewens

This photograph is from a 1952 newspaper article and was taken on the occasion of the opening of Sidney Gardens in June 1898. The group, photographed with the Mayor, Mr John Vincent, has as its background the thatched bandstand given by Mr James Bazeley Petter to mark the opening. Standing (left to right) are: - E Benson, W Summers, J Kerby Whitby, Mr Brown, William Maynard, GH Gould, Edward Samuel Ewens, Henry Jesty (mace-bearer), William W Johnson, Charles J Hook, John Bazeley Petter (donor), W Armitage (Borough Surveyor), John Howe Farley, Walter J Nosworthy, William Beale Collins, Charles Fox. Sitting - Levi Beer, CW Pittard, Sidney Watts, Mrs Vincent, John Vincent (Mayor), Joseph Chaffey Moore, William Cox.


This colourised photograph was taken by Yeovil Photographer Jarratt Beckett and published in his 1897 book  "Somerset viewed through a Camera". Charles Hook's supply stores on the north side of Middle Street, under the sign of the 'Golden Canister', in this photograph. To give an idea of where this is, the entrance to Frederick Place is beneath the two single windows at the left end of the Albany Hotel. The buildings of Hook's, Richardson's and the Albany Hotel survive to this day.


A postcard of about 1905 looking up Middle Street towards the Borough, CJ Hook's Supply Stores is at right.


Men of "Kitchener's Army" march down Middle Street on their way to the Western Front. Note Charles Hook's 'Golden Canister' shop at top centre and the entrance to Frederick Place at right. Photographed c1915.


Yeovil in the 1920s must have been really nice when, apparently, everyone had a maid to serve them delicious 'Bongola' tea, as sold by CJ Hook & Co.


Hook's supply stores, now Clark's, photographed in 2013. It's nice to see that Richardson's and the Albany Hotel buildings also survive.


Again taken about 1900, this photograph looks west along Middle Street towards the Borough. Hook's 'Golden Canister' sign is seen just right of centre.


This postcard dates to 1903 (not the 1930s as the CHAC website would have you believe) and is taken a bit further towards the Borough than the previous photograph. Hook's shop is seen at extreme right with the smart, shiny new lights outside.


Advertisement placed in Jarratt Beckett's 1897 book  "Somerset viewed through a Camera".


Charles Hook's advertisement in the 1897 edition of Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser for his supply stores, the Golden Canister.


From my collection

An advertisement for CJ Hook & Sons in a Yeovil Guide of the late 1920s. 


Courtesy of Rob Baker

Notice placed in the Western Gazette's edition of 26 May 1933 announcing that CJ Hook & Sons was being incorporated into the Western County Stores Ltd in the Borough.


The Borough, photographed around 1955, and the awning shows that Western County Stores was amalgamated with CJ Hook & Sons as well as Somerville & Son.


From my collection

A Western Counties Stores' invoice. At this time the letter heading doesn't mention CJ Hook and Son although the attached receipt does. Do you remember when invoices were hand written? (and 12 "Flagons of Cyder" cost just £1 2s 0d?).


From my collection

A Western Counties Stores' invoice of 1961, by which time CJ Hook & Sons and JH Somerville & Son are listed as being incorporated within WCS.