Construction of Alfred Street, projecting southward parallel to the sea front, was begun at around the same time as the cutting of College St. By the mid 1850’s construction had reached what became Cross St., with Lott’s Commercial Hotel (now Berryman’s Estate Agent) being completed in 1853.
By 1879 Alfred St. had been completed as far as South Terrace and South St. Many of the buildings were originally houses but were later changed to shops. The picture at the top of the page shows the view northward from near the Adam St. junction, probably early 20th century.
At this time the land extending southwards from South Terrace to the railway station and eastwards to Oxford St. was laid out as pleasure gardens, including a maze, but these became smaller over time as Technical St., Jubilee St. and Hudson St. were built on them. Eventually all that was left became a Tea Garden .
The Southward extension of Alfred Street. was essentially finished by the completion of Alexandra Villas, between South Terrace and the Station in 1885. At this time the new street did not extend northwards as far as Regent St but met the narrow passage cutting past the side of the Mason’s Arms from Regent St. This passage was widened to become a proper extension of Alfred St in 1895 when ‘The Lifeboat’ Temperance Hotel was built.
Hausers Hardware store was one of the well known businesses that opened up in this section of the street with a sign of a large golden key suspended outside. The building remains, as does the name on the entrance tiling.
Advertisements from Burnham on Sea Holiday Guide, date unknown.
Advertisements from Burnham on Golf Handbook, probably 1910’s.
At some point in the early 20th century the street was renamed High Street (possibly 1911 but accounts vary as it was under consideration for some time).
The picture above is attributed to 1915, taken from the Cross St. junction.
This picture was taken at a later date looking from the Somerset & Dorset, the clothes & vehicle suggest the middle years of the 20th century. The arched frontage of the Electric Theatre is still visible at middle left.
2019 sees the 100th anniversary of G.W. Hurley, probably the oldest retail business now functioning in Burnham. The original business was opened on the High St. as a bric-a-brac shop in 1919 by Florence Gilbert Wesley Hurley. She was asked if she would sell newspapers and agreed to take it on.
Mr Colin Morris, Mrs Hurley’s grandson, took on the business 53 years ago in the premises over which he was born. He expanded the shop space rearward and took on a broader newspaper distribution area, to include the surrounding countryside. Eventually this was merged with Weston and taken up by W.H. Smith.
Mr Morris explains that this shrinking of the newspaper part of the business was one reason for the expansion into wider retail and the purchase of the larger premises on the eastern side of the street where generations of parents have now bought their children’s toys. Salway’s hardware shop in Regent St. was also acquired and continued to run as a traditional hardware shop until 2018.
Unfortunately old photographs and records of the business were all lost in the fire at Pople’s warehouse, behind the High St, in the 1980’s.
The photo below, probably taken in the early 1960’s, before the acquisition of the new premises (the original book department can be seen through the left hand window), was kindly supplied by Mr Morris.
Other related links:
(Information courtesy of Winston and Robert Thomas: ‘The Book of Burnham on Sea’)