Steam Packet Maroon / York House


Once a social hub for the maritime community in Burnham, subsequently a boarding house and a care home for children and now a private residence once more.

This building (on the corner at middle right in the picture above) was standing by the time of the Peachey Williams survey of 1838. It is likely it was a private residence of some importance at that time, as it is one of only two listed as ‘House and lawn’ rather than ‘House and garden’,  suggesting the owners were of the leisured class.

The first reference we have found to the ‘Steam Packet Inn’ is in a report in the  Taunton Courier, in September 1860, of John Neck being granted a license. It is interesting to note in the same report that Sea View House, next door, was refused a license. Being next door to the Customs House, it was a popular rendezvous for the seafaring community. Throughout the 1860’s it is believed to have provided commercial accommodation and some stabling facilities. At this time it seems it was  known as The Pier Hotel: it was labelled as such n a planning map of 1852 (below); in a newspaper report of 1859 noted by Mike Matthews (see comment below); and still listed as such in the 1861 census. Perhaps its different functions were carried on under different names for a period of time?

Planning map, 1852.

The name of the inn refers to ships operating maritime postal services so it is often found near quays from which such services were operated. We have no  evidence to suport the idea that a packet ship postal service ever operated to Burnham but the jetty was used by stream ships which may possibly have carried mail. Also the proximity to the Customs House may have influenced the naming.

Below is a clipping  from an unidentified source, found among the Dupuis Diary entries relating to 1867:

Sometime between 1866 and 1871/2  it was acquired by Millicent Bowley and began operation as an apartment and boarding house and was renamed York House. In the 20th century it became a Residential Home operated by Somerset County Council. During the 1960’s & 1970’s it accommodated children.

20 thoughts on “Steam Packet Maroon / York House”

  1. Hi. Is it possible that the Steam Packet was previously called the Pier Hotel? John Neck appears to have run both around 1859-1861. The 1861 census shows him at Pier Hotel which is between the Customs House and Sea View House. An article dated 1859 mentions a daughter of Mr Neck of the Pier Hotel falling off the sea wall, but an article dated 1860 mentions James (sic) Neck of the Steam Packet being granted a spirit licence. I’m wondering if John changed the name around 1860 but the census enumerator mistakenly recorded it by its previous name.

    Also, is the above photo protected by copyright?

    1. Hi Mike, Thanks for drawing this to our attention. We had been aware that the premises were labelled as The Pier Hotel on a map of 1852, but as this was a planning map this did not seem to be confirmation that it was ever actually known by that name. I have consulted with colleagues and their more recent research has found, as you did, that 1861 census information lists it as The Pier Hotel but the press cutting of 1860 somewhat confusingly names it as the Steam Packet, so we must assume that it was renamed around this time. I will now amend the text above to reflect this.

      The photo you enquire about is not copyrighted to us or to any other agency that we know of. We believe it has appeared in a number of places.

  2. I’m not sure if this is pertinent. All I know of York House is that I left Burnham on Sea to go to Australia with my family early in 1965. My beloved panda bear wasn’t allowed to come because of its stuffing and quarantine laws in Australia. I was bereft without him . He went to York House and I received a letter written on 9: 12:1965 by E M Winslade who had tracked down our address in Western Australia to tell me my panda had been given to Roger who had just arrived and it was his 5th birthday . She wanted to let me know my panda was once again well loved . Her kindness meant a lot to me as a nine year old and I still have the letter.

    1. Thank you Vicki for sharing this memory with us. Should you remember more about your time here please share it with us. I went to King Alfred School in the 1960’s and many of my school friends were from York House.

    2. Thank you for your,post. My mother Mrs .Eva Winslade, Matron of York House for many years sadly passed away on 29th October this year, 2021. She was 103 yrs old.

      1. We are sorry to hear of the death of Mrs Winslade. It sounds, from Vicki’s comment, as if she was a kind and thoughtful lady. We would be grateful if there is any other information about her time at York House that you might be able to share with us at some point.

        1. Hello Jenny, My father Evan Strickland taught at Technical College then later at King Alfred School. I remember, in my early school days, him speaking to your mother at York House about school classroom changes . I had several school friends who lived at York House in your mother’s care. My father always spoke with gratitude at the her loving attitude and care she gave.

      2. Jenny, so sorry to hear of “Aunties” passing. A good friend and boss for the four years I knew her (75-79). Many good memories, God bless her

    3. Hi Vicki,
      I was at York House from 1969\1975,
      I am just letting you know that Mrs Eva May Winslade passed away 29 Oct 2021. She was a good woman and spent most of her life running York House Children’s Home.

      1. Hello my brothers and sister and my self were residents in can you please tell me when it closed down as a childrens home thank you

        1. Hi Jan,

          Unfortunately we don’t have any information about when York House closed as a children’s home. Maybe other readers have further information about this?

  3. John Neck was my 3x great-grandfather’s brother. Can you tell me what the source is for the 1861 ref to him being the licensee of the Steam Packet? I believe he also held the licence for the Pier Hotel at the same time, which I assume is now the Old Pier Tavern?

    1. Confusingly it’s from two sources.1861 Census says John Neck and family at The Pier Hotel, which if done sequentially places it on the sea front (Eslpanade). The previous entry is Sea View House and Custom House, both obviously on the sea front Yet in the same year Kellys Directory has John Neck at the Steam Packet Inn. In 1866 the landlord of the steam Packet is James Lever. I also have a town plan of 1852 which shows the site on the sea front as “Pier Hotel”. The same plan has the current Pier Hotel as “Tap” adjoining the Queen’s Hotel. I can send you these details if you send me your personal email. Do you have any more information on John Neck?

  4. I was a resident of York House, Children’s Home from 1969 to 1975. I had some bad times there but most of the times were good, Mrs Eva Winslade, the head of the household was overall a wise person and the staff under her were great. We as children all had our own problems and personalities which made life there somewhat interesting. In a way I am glad that I was sent there and not one of those other homes where some horrendous events happened. Staff members I remember are Dorothy Durban, Lynn Ashley, Sandra Fear, Those were the ones that I liked the most, they treated you fairly. On a closing note no matter what or how we were treated it is what has made us the way we are today and from having contact with a lot of the past residents that were there when I was life has not been easy but then not hard. May you all, if you read this have a great life ahead of you and thank you for being apart of my life. Yours Steve Davis

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