The primrose cottages Mystery

The primrose cottages Mystery

What happened to Mr & Mrs Tom Jones?


Primrose Cottages was a small terrace of six houses set high on a bank on the western side of Ilchester Road, close to Fiveways. From January 1953, one of the cottages was unoccupied for over a decade, remaining furnished and with a half-eaten meal on the dining table. It appears, so the story goes, that a young married couple - Tom and Kathleen Jones - were in residence and during their last meal together had a terrible argument which resulted in both of them leaving the house and going their separate ways. Statutory notices failed to trace the owners of the cottage and it was finally demolished, along with the rest of the cottages and the old maternity hospital for the widening of Ilchester Road and the improvements at Fiveways.

So, what was the true story? Here are three newspaper articles that shed some light on this Yeovil mystery.




In its edition of Sunday, 31 March 1957, The People  under the heading 'Four-year riddle of couple who vanished', reported -

"Four years ago, Mr & Mrs Tom Jones got up from the breakfast table at the cottage they owned in Yeovil, Somerset - and disappeared. They left food and crockery on the table. They left dirty linen in a washtub. They left all their clothes. And they left behind a mystery that has now set the town buzzing with rumours. All they took with them was their four-year-old son Terry, and even his pram was left behind in a front room of the cottage in Ilchester Road. A year ago, Mrs Jones and her son were traced to London. But not a word has been heard of her husband, Tom Jones, an ex-RAF wireless operator.

The couple are known to have been quarrelling, but no one can explain why that should have led them to abandon the house they own and all their furniture. "I am sure Tom would have come back by now to claim the furniture and sell the house if all was well." said one of his friends. But the local police are not prepared to regard their disappearance as a mystery that needs solving, as they have had no requests to trace them.

To the local council, Mr & Mrs Jones are still officially in residence at No 11 Ilchester Road. For the whole of the four years the council has been sending them rate demands and they are now £30 in arrears. Yet the house and furniture are going rapidly into decay. Behind the cobwebbed windows yesterday the breakfast things were still on the table. On the mantelpiece was a faded picture of Mr & Mrs Jones on their wedding day. On the back of the kitchen door hung a linen bag marked "Terry's shoes". Next to it hung a child's coat.

Until a year ago, Mrs Jones is known to have been in London with her mother, Mrs Hickey. They lived in a basement flat in Folkestone Road, Walthamstow, and they had the boy with them. Then the two women and the boy disappeared."


The Sunday Mirror, in its edition of 25 March 1967, under the heading "The family that vanished has £1,000 waiting..." wrote -

"The house stands just as the family left it when they mysteriously vanished fourteen years ago... The kitchen table is still laid for breakfast; cups and saucers wait for washing up on the draining board.

Now there is an urgent need to find factory worker Tom Jones and his wife Kathleen, who disappeared with their son Terry four, in January 1953. The council wants to tell them that they are entitled to about £1,000 for the house they left in Ilchester Road, Yeovil, Somerset. The house is to be demolished as part of a road widening scheme and the money is being paid under a compulsory purchase order.

Throughout the whole of the fourteen years no-one in the neighbourhood has seen or heard from Mr and Mrs Jones, who were in their twenties. No-one knows why they left or where they went. Clothing, including an RAF sergeant's uniform, hangs in the two upstairs rooms. Tins of food are in the larder. There is also a trunk containing family belongings and the deeds of the house, which the couple own. A pile of letters and bills has grown behind the front door. Everything is coated in dust.

Mr Gordon Leeson, Yeovil's deputy town clerk, said yesterday that notice of compulsory purchase was to be put up outside the house soon. Mr Leeson added "We have renewed our efforts to trace the family recently in view of the compulsory purchase. If we do not find Mr Jones, the £1,000 will be deposited with the Bank of England."




The Sunday Mirror, in its edition of 2 April 1967, under the heading "Lost father is in hospital" wrote -

"Factory worker Tom Jones, who mysteriously vanished with his wife and child fourteen years ago, has been traced to a mental hospital in Carmarthen, Wales, where he has been a patient since 1955.

The council at Yeovil, Somerset, have been trying to find him. They want to pay him compensation as they plan to demolish his house in Ilchester Road."



Many thanks to Rob Baker for pointing me towards this story.




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

A colourised photograph of Primrose Cottages taken in the mid-1960s.