Follow the link below to see a .pdf of the occupancy of shop premises in Victoria St over time:
Listen to the memories of Delia Temlett and Sheila Brooks about the former bakers in Victoria Street and the town. We know that there have been a number of bakeries in Victoria St over time: Sherrell’s Bakery at No. 53a (1914); Harding’s Bakery (1937) and the Victoria Bakery at the same address in the 1980’s; Johns’ West End Bakery at No.53 (1960’s – 80’s); Weare’s(1914), later Davies’ Bakery (1939) at No.17 and Thomas Baker’s bakery at the same address in the 1960’s. The ‘Baker Bothers’ they refer to was at No. 2 Princess St where A.K. Auto Spares & Cycles is now.
Victoria St. is one of the oldest streets in the town centre, together with Oxford St., and Manor Rd (previously known as Church St). A few isolated dwellings stood near the church in the late 18th century, including thatched cottages of fishermen. Nothing of these remains now. The early years of the 19th century, particularly following the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837, saw the development of the east side of the street more along the lines we know now, however many of the properties have since had business frontages added and front gardens removed.
The pictures below are from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The old Mason’s Arms, which had been a one time brewery and a long time gathering spot for town tradesmen stood at the junction of Victoria St. and Regent St. When this building was erected Alfred St / High St. did not exist as we know it now, there was a narrow alley between the building and the one at the east end of Regent St , where the brewing vats could be seen. Joseph Braithwaite bought the building in 1894, he had it demolished and ‘The Lifeboat’ Temperance Hotel built on the site, which opened in 1895. The new structure is the handsome building we still see on the corner today. It allowed room for the widening of the passage on its Regent St side, to become a proper extension of Alfred St, thus completing the length of what is now High St.
In the picture above the block of buildings south of the Lifeboat had not yet been erected. The corbels on ‘The Arcade’ indicate that this block was constructed in 1906.
The Bridgwater Gazette of 29th Oct 1899 reported:
‘A NEW CLUB – At the “Lifeboat” restaurant a new club, to include billiard and reading rooms with ample opportunity for social intercourse, and the great advantage of a free library for members, was opened on Saturday. The venture is an admirable one and deserves the success which we trust it will have.
Business was so brisk at the Lifeboat that a temporary marquee was erected on part of the site subsequently occupied by the buildings on the south east end of the street, to accommodate overflow from the restaurant. This was superseded by the new permanent Lifeboat Pavilion in 1902, which stood on the site of what is now the Ritz Cinema.
The Lifeboat Pavilion
The advert below appears on the back of a nicely coloured (and artistically altered) postcard of the picture above posted in 1906. The address makes one wonder whether this was related to catering arrangements for an excursion of the infants school.
Advert below from Mate’s Guide of 1903
The advert above is reproduced from a ‘collectable’ postcard but appears to be a genuine reproduction as it has a Pople Typographers by-line. It is notable though that it is described as at ‘Alfred St and Regent St’ rather than in Victoria St. The date is unknown.
Below we can see the 1906 block, pictured in the 1960’s. The premises on the corner had originally been No. 4 and No. 6 before becoming amalgamated, probably sometime between the wars. ‘The Arcade’ stands in the centre, at that time occupied on the Victoria St side by Douglas Wood, Electrical Contractor. For more information about The Arcade see the High St page.
Tucker’s Garage, No 47:
The iconic Tuckers Garage building (above), was constructed in the around 1939, at No 47, on the site of a Regency period dwelling. Previously Tucker’s had resided where Victoria Court now stands (below). This block had originally housed Somerset Engineering (flat metal products) when it was built at around the turn of the 20th century. After standing empty for some years the site is now being developed with flats.
Woodmans, No 43:
No 43 – 45 was originally built around 1795 as a single house, Belvedere House, which looked out over the dunes before the intervening buildings were constructed. The Woodman family were its first owners and ran it as a boarding house. In 1836 they set up a shoe making business at the rear of the premises, employing a number of workers. Eventually the boarding house business was dropped and a retail shop set up. Part of the ground floor was later separated off and taken up by Hedges Newsagent’s business [later at No 49]. (Anne Morris, Burnham on Sea Archaeological and Natural History Society Journal 1996)
Advert from 1970
Heal’s Grocer’s, No 37:
Interflora sign in window places this photo as after 1923.
Brewer’s Fishmonger & Poulterer, No 35:
Advert from Burnham Gazette 1914
After World War II Brewer’s at No 35 was replaced by French’s. Next door was Heale’s Fruiterers & Florists. During the 1970’s & 80’s French’s changed to an Electrical Contracting business under the same name.
Cox & Cox Furnishers, Removals & Undertakers (No 20) was constructed in the early 20th century on the site of a stonemason’s business. It later became Co-op Furnishing (1970’s – 80’s) and then Scott’s Furnishings. Next door was Cox’s Auction House, a building for many years now (2019) occupied by a window blind business (advert below from Mate’s Guide 1903).
Berrill’s hairdresser & Tobacconist at No 23, the corner with Princess St, was the subject of the following report in the Burnham Gazette, 19th Sept 1914:
Mr Berrill, hairdresser and tobacconist, Victoria St, Burnham, received two very unwelcome visitors on Monday. In the afternoon a sheep was discovered behind one of the shop counters. The unprofitable patron was summarily ejected before any serious damage was done. Later in the day a bullock invaded the shop, and it looked as if the animal’s horns would demoralise certain glass cases &c. By peaceful persuasion however, the bull was induced to withdraw his huge carcase. He departed after leaving his “card” as a souvenir of the eventful occasion.
Weare’s Bakery and Victoria Cafe occupied No 17 during the early 20th century, until WWII. Their delivery van can be seen on the Around and About pages. Below are scans of a paper bag from the shop, courtesy of Tony Haggett. The reverse shows a quality certification.
At the south end of the street Hawkings Motors was situated at No 1. It had developed from the Hawkings Motor Co & Sperring’s Cycle Manufacturers built on the site in 1897. Advertisements below from Mate’s Guide 1903 and Burnham on Sea Golf Handbook, c1910’s.
It later traded as Burnham Motor Co, probably at No. 5. , in the block now reconstituted as Victoria Court which had also at times been home to other motor and engineering businesses including Tuckers and latterly Burnham Auto Spray (see below).
(Thanks to Winston and Robert Thomas: ‘The Book of Burnham on Sea’ for some of the information above and to Cedric May for photos of Victoria Court before & after renovation)
Other related links: