yeovil people

john perry

Technical Blacksmith & Temperance Hotelier


John Perry was born around 1810 in Somerton. The first record I found relating to him was the 1841 census in which he was listed as living in Park Street with his wife Ann, three years his elder, and children Ann aged 6, Philip aged 4 and John aged 2. John gave his occupation as a journeyman whitesmith. John and Ann were to have three more children, Elizabeth, William and Temperance. It transpires however that John's wife, albeit listed as Ann in the 1841 census, was actually called Jemima or possibly Jemima Ann. It also transpires that John and Wincanton-born Jemima had lived in Sherborne, Dorset, where their first two children were born, and moved to Yeovil around 1839.

By the time of the 1851 census John had moved his family to Hannam's Lane (today's Tabernacle Lane) where he took over Henry Bragg's smithy. John gave his occupation as blacksmith journeyman, Jemima listed hers as shopkeeper and son Philip, aged 14, was also listed as a blacksmith journeyman.

John regarded himself as a 'Technical Blacksmith' and created intricate clockwork mechanisms as described in the SCHNQ Journal of November 1899 - "Amongst local inventions the clockwork 'modles' of the late John Perry of Yeovil, take high rank. They all worked by a penny-in-the-slot arrangement. There were about a dozen of them, such as a church showing ringers at work in the belfry, a man at a pump pumping lemonade into a glass, a smith's workshop, etc. They were exhibited at a working man's exhibition in London. First shown in Tabernacle Lane, Yeovil, and afterwards at fairs all over the country."

Certainly by 1856 John Perry was running Perry's Family & Commercial Temperance Hotel in South Street and was hosting temporary photographic portrait rooms to visiting professional photographers. The advertisement below is from the Western Flying Post's edition of 5 May 1857.



The 1861 census shows that John and Jemima, together with children John, Elizabeth and Temperance, were now living in South Street across the road from Hannam's Lane and were now running a temperance hotel (photographed below) situated between the Globe and Crown and the Baptist Chapel. It should be borne in mind, of course, that at this time there were no fewer than nine public houses in this short stretch of South Street between Penn Hill and Hendford. In the census John listed his occupation as 'Blacksmith and Temperance Hotel Keeper' while his son John was listed as a whitesmith.

 In August 1865 Hanham & Gillett sold their ironmongery establishment in the Borough to John Petter and at this time John Perry, having been the manager of Hanham & Gillett's workshops for some 23 years, set up his own Engineering business in South Street in partnership with his son.

John Perry's Temperance Hotel was listed in the Post Office Directories of 1866 and 1875 and in the latter John was also listed as an Engineer. Behind the hotel, completely enclosed on all sides, was a small court of houses known as Perry's Yard.

In the winter of 1869 Jemima died, aged 64, and in the autumn of the following year John married Martha Mooney in Yeovil. It might appear that while John concentrated his time in the smithy Jemima had actually run the hotel since following her death the hotel was bought by William Waygood although he kept the name Perry's. John and Martha, together with Temperance and John's grand daughter Annie Sutton, moved to Brunswick Street although John Jnr, together with his wife Grace née Eva and three daughters; Annie, Eva and Kathleen, remained at the South Street hotel. In the 1871 census John Jnr listed his occupation as a bell hanger & gas fitter.

John Perry Snr died in the spring of 1875 aged 66. John Jnr and Grace continued to run the hotel for many years and was advertised in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1882 as shown below. However, John and Grace together with their family moved to Hammersmith, London, where John worked as a machinist and Grace ran a coffee shop. The temperance hotel was taken over, albeit probably only for a short time, by William Banfield and his partner Mr Gill. (This was probably Albert Gill, who went on to become landlord of the Black Horse, Reckleford). It became known as Banfield & Gill's Temperance Refreshment & Boarding House.




This photograph features in my book 'Secret Yeovil'

A sepia photograph of John Perry, circa 1855, holding a file and a cogged wheel he had presumably made himself. A note on the back of the photograph recorded "John Perry, Technical Blacksmith of Yeovil". The photograph was by John Swatridge of Princes Street.


The notice, dated 1 August 1865, placed in the Western Gazette announcing that John Perry, having been the manager of Hanham & Gillett's workshops for some 23 years, had set up his own business in partnership with his son.


An advertisement placed in the 1 July 1870 edition of the Western Gazette announcing that William Waygood was to start commercial room dinners at the hotel. By the following year Waygood was also running the Albany Temperance Hotel in Middle Street.


John Perry Jnr's advertisement in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1882.


This photograph features in my book 'Yeovil From Old Photographs'

Taken taken before 1879, this photograph by Adam Gosney shows the Greyhound Hotel at extreme right (before being rebuilt in its present form), the Cow Inn next door, the Globe and Crown opposite and the Three Choughs Hotel in the far distance at the end of South Street. Between the Cow Inn and the Choughs was the two-storey King's Arms 2 in the far distance as well as a couple of un-named beerhouses. Then the three-storey Market House Inn and then another un-named beerhouse. Just think, what an ideal pub crawl. Note the horse-drawn omnibus parked outside the Greyhound. Despite the huge number of pubs in this short run of South Street, the white building with the black porch left of centre was Perry's Temperance Hotel.


This photograph features in my book 'Yeovil From Old Photographs'

An enlargement of the previous photo, showing Perry's Temperance Hotel in more detail.