Nowadays there are charity shops, estate agents and commercial premises which have taken over the central area of the town.

However, in 1901 we should start with Mineheads best known landmark - The iconic Plume of Feathers Hotel,
built in 1686 - demolished in 1965.
This was a 16th century coaching Inn situated in prime position in Wellington Square. One important visitor there was Daniel Defoe, who wrote Robinson Crusoe (published in 1719) amongst other literary works. He stayed at the Plume of Feathers in 1722.

Daniel Defoe
Born c.1659-1661
Died 24th April 1731
In 1901 George Thristle was the proprietor. He was 43 and born in Bristol. His wife, Ellen, aged 50 was the manageress born in Dunster. They had a son, Thomas who was 20 and born in Leicester. Their 18yr old daughter was born in Hixton, Manchester. They had 2 visitors staying there in 1901. Charles H Glossop a 44yr old bank manager born in Bakewell, Derbyshire, and Charles L Gilks an advertisment agent, also aged 44 and born in Southgate Middlesex. Working at the hotel were seven servants; Emily Roberts, 45 born in Chessington, was the cook. Olive Hoare age 23 born in St. Georges Bristol. Emma Brewer aged 20 born Bristol. Alice Mundy aged 25 born in Wiltshire. was the chamber maid. Nellie Ball aged 22 born in Chepstow, was a waitress. George Shepherdson aged 23 born in Tenby was the bookkeeper and Florence A Pearce aged 23 born in Taunton was the cashier.


Many people will remember Henry Woods shop and workshops on the corner site where W.H.Smith is now. Back in 1900 the premises was owned and occupied by a William Tarr, aged 43, Ironmonger born Roadwater and his wife Lily, 37 born Dunster. They had seven children all born in Minehead; William 16, Percival 13, Gwendoline 13, John 12, Nina 16, Vera 7, and Irene 7mts. Also living there were the mother-in-law, 62yr old widow, Eliza A Eames born on the Isle of Wight. They had 4 servants: Bessie Binning 24 born Cheddar, Maud Langsford 25 was the housekeeper, born Cornwall, Emily Norman 18 was the cook born Exford and Rose Cane, 17, was the housemaid, born Alcombe.
New shop fronts were put in after Mr. Henry Wood acquired the premises. The only shop windows were those facing the Parade as, in common with most other businesses in the town, the owners lived on the premises, and the entrance door to the house was in Summerland Road. All the first and upper floors were the family’s living quarters. Henry Wood came to Minehead from Penzance about 1905 and carried on the business as furniture showrooms and removal services.


He was joined later by Mr. Andrews who came from the same district and on Mr.Woods death, Mr. Andrews carried on the business until it finally closed in 1976. Henry Woods Removal Company and buildings in Alexandra road and Irnham road were bought and taken over in 1976 by Ian & Daphne McCutcheon’s company - Macs removals & Storage Internationa, and the shop was bought by W.H.Smith. The building in Bancks street that used to be the cozy cinema and then Henry Woods secondhand shop was converted into flats.

When Clarks shoe factory closed a small band of ex employees set up the shoe cooperative and rented the long building in Alexandra Road, shown in the middle picture on the second row from Macs Removals. They called their business, the Unicorn shoe co-operative. After about five years they bought the building in North Road that used to be Webbers stables and set up business there. In 1992 the buildings in Alexandra road were sold and converted into flats.

One of the lorrys owned by
MACS Removals
Alexandra funiture stores & secondhand shop
Conversion into flats
  By 1910 William Tarrs shop was located in Wellington Square.
Hartgen’s butcher’s shop was occupied by a Mr. George Brown, butcher. He moved to No.1 Holloway Street when the shop adjoining the Old Plume of Feathers premises, was built. This was later acquired by Mr. Eli Harding, just before the First World War.
Mr. Walter Holloway owned the next shop, a drapery emporium, later part of the International Stores, and now Boots.

       A Mr. Robert Hunt, 56, grocer, owned and occupied the next shop, with his wife Elizabeth 54 and son, Walter 24  all born in Williton. They had a domestic servant names Sarah P Waggett from Glamorgan, she was only 13.

Next in the Parade came a plumber and mechanical engineers shop, owned by Mark Capron, aged 59 (where Threshers was, it is now empty). He was also what was known as a ‘turn cock’, i.e. he was in charge of the local water supply system. He lived over the shop with his wife; Sarah aged 49 and sons John 18, and Edward 15. John is a cycle agent. They were all born in Minehead.


 He Capron also captained the local fire brigade, equipped with an old hand-pump engine.
Mr. John Croote (who was also a plumber and had workshops and a shop at the top of Bancks Street ) followed him for a number of years as fire brigade captain; and he in turn was succeeded by Mr. Ted Capron until the fire service became a national organization, when his son Fred took over. Fred became chief fire officer of one of the Midland counties and held a high position in the service.
On the corner of Bancks street was George Hayward aged 50, a wine merchant born in Ashpriors. He was originally a bank manager in Bruton, then transferred to Stuckeys bank on the opposite corner of Bancks street but resigned on 7th July 1888 and went into partnership with John Batting who had started the wine business in Minehead after being in the trade in Exeter. John was born in 1851 but died 2nd qt of 1889, about a year after going into partnership with George Hayward. He left a wife and 2 children. George’s wife Mary Jane 45 born in Pitminster and their sons Frank aged 22, Cecil 15, Arthur 9, and daughter Edith 20 who had a fine voice, and was much in demand at local concerts. Also living with them was Helen Edwards, 31, a governess born Spaxton and Annie Hurford 21 born Bampton who was the domestic servant. Mary E Westcott, 27 was a barmaid born in Thorverton.

The premises now occupied by Channin and Thomas were built by Stuckeys Bank, one of the old county banks of that period, later absorbed by the Westminster Bank (now Natwest) and moved across the road when the latter’s premises were built in the early 1900s. In 1901 the ‘new’ manager George Richardson 51 born in Milfords Hants and his wife Eliza aged 50. Lucy James was the 17yr old domestic servant born Bagborough A firm of antique dealers from Taunton named Halliday, took over around 1910, and did a very good trade with visiting Americans and visitors to Minehead.

Next came a block of properties, originally one building but since divided into three shops. In the early 1900s this was no.4 the Parade, a glass and china shop owned by Mr. George Tarr, a local character, who apparently spent a lot of time standing on the steps leading up to his front entrance. His well-bearded and corpulent figure was a familiar landmark, which disappeared regularly about mid-morning into the Feathers Hotel. George Tarr age 53 Glass and china merchant born Kingsbrompton, Somerset and his wife Rosa 55 born in Treborough. May Triggol age 21 was the shop assistant born Minehead and Eva Winter was the 18yr old cook born Carhampton. Bessie Nethercott was the 17yr old housemaid born in Old Cleeve.

There was a Chemists shop between here and Floyds, but earlier it had been a superior tailoring establishment, a branch of a Bristol firm named Popperwell, which sported an elaborate coat of arms on its window, ‘By appointment to the Duke of Beaufort’.

Isaac Floyd age 50 born in Porlock lived in the next property with wife Elizabeth 49 .Their son Reginald 21, was the cashier and Walter, 19 was a draper’s assistant. Also living with them were, daughters 16, Mary 13, Ella 11 and Winifred 8 and youngest son Ewart aged 7. Plus Alice Coombe 23 born lower Trent, Mary Hartnell age 21 born Braunton, Ethel Wilce age 19 born Cinderford, Dora Escott age 17 were shop assistants. Eliza Chillcott age 19 was the cook born Porlock and Elizabeth Chikcott age 17 was the housemaid born Williton and Florence Reed,17, was the nurse, born Bridgetown.

Floyds occupied the corner site with living premises for the family and staff over the business. Floyds had opened in 1877 in a shop in Friday Street known as ‘The Ready Money Drapers’. Mr. Isaac Floyd expanded his business by hiring a pony and trap to carry merchandise out to neighboring villages and hamlets, but with the development of the town, trade increased and soon he acquired the corner premises formerly occupied by
Mr. J. Bond, Chemist, Grocer and Draper.

At first, the shop, like many others, was dark and lit only by candles. Customers carried the goods to the door to examine them in the daylight. Later gas lighting was installed. Primarily a draper, Floyds in 1889 supplied a wide range of goods from mop caps and Champion corsets to velvets, faille, damask and calico. The business continued to expand and the premises were extended to include shops in both Friday street and the Parade.  You paid at the counter and the money was put in a metal cylinder which was put into a pipe that took it to the main office where the money was removed and any change due sent back to the appropriate counter.
There was an elaborate range of pipes all round the ceilings and up the walls.
Today we have Floyds Corner and memories.

On the other side of the road, the corner site on The Holloway was then owned by a family named Preddy, who were harness makers. Preddy also had the contract to carry the mail daily to Taunton and the departure of the large pair-horsed van from the Square each evening was always a matter of interest to the youngsters. Miss Preddy kept a young ‘ladies’ school, for tradesmen’s daughters who, in their parents’ eyes, were a cut above going to the Church School on top of the Holloway. The premises were converted in about 1910 and then occupied by Messrs. Copp of Watchet as a dress shop, Mrs. Copp being a Miss Preddy before she married.

At 20 the parade lived Harry Passmore aged 28 tobacconist shopkeeper born in Minehead with his wife Emily aged 32 born Exford. We are told, he was a noted shot and spent a good part of his leisure time shooting rabbits.
Picture of his shop below:

George Brown, lived at 24 the Parade, aged 56, born in Porlock. He was a watchmaker and jeweler. Also his wife Phoebe aged 47 who was born in Hackney, Middx. Also at home were his daughters, Laura,26 a post office telephonist & Alice,17 and son Arthur aged 20 also a watchmaker and jeweler. Ada Holloway aged 24 born Torrington Devon, was also there, as a general domestic servant, It is now Barclay’s Bank . One of their two sons was drowned when a cruise ship, the Egypt, went down after striking a rock in the Mediterranean.
25 the parade was  Boddy’s, bakers and confectioners, where Bastins is now. John Boddy aged 51 born Taunton, he was a lived there with his wife, Lucy aged 51 born Luccombe and children, Florence,29, Albert, 27,William,25, and Reginald 22.
They were all born in Minehead and were working as assistants in the bakery business. Anne Tudball 22 general domestic servant & William Horsey 21 was working there as a baker confectioner. William Boddy was another splendid shot and a first-class billiards player, in spite of losing his left forearm in a shooting accident.

The old Market house, which was a Fish Market, occupied the site of the present one – a picturesque building set back from the road and replaced in 1902. Next to the old house was a pretty little dwelling named Rose Cottage, with roses growing over the front porch. It was No.26 and was the home of Herbert Dyer aged 32, a tailor, born in Periton and his wife Clara, aged 31 from Hereford. Also living there was Frederick J Hooper, brother in law aged 19 who was also a tailor, born at Cutcombe.
In the next property lived Edward H Wilton aged 43 from Doncaster, Yorkshire and his wife Milly aged 20 who was born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. They had a daughter that was under 1month old born in Minehead. Also living there were his mother-in-law Adah P Rothwell 43, born in Calcutta, India and Emma Knight, a 42 yr old widow who is listed as a ‘monthly nurse’ .born in Dunster.
Next door, at no.28, lived David L Trebble aged 24 Assurance, Insurance, agent born in Minehead.

At no.29 on the opposite side of Market House Lane was Shrives’ florist/greengrocery shop with a greenhouse attached for the exhibition of indoor plants etc. William Shrives aged 60, was a most imposing figure with a long beard, and the families were very staunch nonconformists. The old gentleman wore a round black hat much favored in those days by the clergy.
He was born in Whitley Kettering Northamptonshire. His wife, Jane aged 57 born Heslington York. Their daughter, Mary, 31, was the housekeeper and son William,30, was a florist and gardener, whilst their daughter Rebecca, 27, was the bookkeeper. These 3 children were born in North Shields. Their daughter, Lydia Shrives,25, was a florist and son George,17, was a Mechanical engineers apprentice. They were born in Minehead.

In the next property was a combined draper’s and grocer’s establishment owned by William C.Rawle, 32, who looked after the grocery side, while his widowed sister, Charlotte A Godfrey aged 42, was in charge of the drapery.  He also owned the grocer’s shop in Bampton Street, the County Stores. He was a seedsman and one of the stalwarts of St.Andrew’s church, immaculate on a Sunday with his pale blue-grey striped trousers and black frock coat. They were both born in Minehead. Maud Cooksley was their 18yr old domestic servant born Old Cleeve.

Ebenezer Culverwell age 38 lived next door, he was the chemist and was born in Chicago (British Subject). His wife was called Beatrice and aged 37 born in Williton. There 2 sons, Wilfred age 9 and Geoffrey age 6 were born in Minehead  as was their 4month old daughter, Muriel. Gilbert Hawkins was the chemists assistant, aged 23 born Dulverton. Ellen Bendel was the 34yr old unmarried domestic servant born in Williton. It then became Culverwell and Hawkins and later Thorntons.

.  The small part of the shop (through the arch on the left) was only opened up in later years, the entrance being around the corner at the back. It was locally known as the Torture Chamber as old Mr. Culverwell was something of a dentist.

Fox Fowler’s Bank occupied the site where Lloyds Bank is now.  William R Johnson is the 31yr old bank manager born in Brixham and his wife Lilian R. Aged 27 born in Cornwall. Alice S Cane is their 20yr old general domestic servant born in Minehead. This was another of the old county banks, originally in Park Street, where the optician’s premises are situated.

The corner Premises to Blenheim Road (Holland & Barretts) were occupied by Harry and Sarah Beckett as a high class gown shop. She was a Miss Perkins from Porlock Weir, whose brother kept the Ship Inn, and his father before him; Harry, 43, was born in Kidderminster. was an accountant and secretary of the original Minehead Gas Company., Sarah ran the draper & costumier shop, aged 47 born west Porlock,  with her 2 stepdaughters, Beatie & Gertie Pearse aged 22 & 18 both born in Minehead. They had a son Stanley Beckett aged 9 born Minehead. Florence E Packer was a 25yr old dressmaker, a boarder born in Bath and Harriet Sugg was the domestic servant born in Woolavington

Across the road on the corner, now a bookshop, was a whitewashed house with a sweet shop on the ground floor, and a guesthouse, known as Seaview, occupying the remainder. It was entered at the side and had a small lawned garden. In 1910 Seaview was a Private Hotel with Fred Stevens as the proprietor.

Beyond Seaview in The Avenue was a photographer’s shop, a branch of Hole’s of Williton, with a fairly large studio building extending to the entrance of the Old Town Hall


Minehead Hospital was built in 1888 which was then opposite the tannery. It was originally designed as the Town Hall with a concert hall on the first floor which would seat 200 people. It had been the centre of community life in the town with concerts, dances, flower shows, bazaars, etc. The building was later taken over by the council who used the ground floor as offices. Part of the premise also served as a bank, probably the West Somerset Bank, later absorbed by Lloyds. However in 1914, at the outbreak of the first World War, the building was taken over as a VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) hospital. It never reverted to its original purpose and replaced the outgrown hospital that was at Dunster. It now lies empty awaiting its next incarnation.



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