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.
Note the sign for ‘The Arcade’ at left of picture above.
The old Mason’s Arms, which had been a one time brewery and a long time gathering spot for town tradesmen was till standing in 1838, at the junction of Victoria St. and Regent St., (Alfred St / High St. did not exist at this time). This building was demolished in 1894 and ‘The Lifeboat’ Temperance Hotel was built on the site and 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 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 superceded by the new permanent Lifeboat Pavilion in 1902, which stood on the site of what is now the Ritz Cinema.
The Lifeboat Pavilion
Advert below from Mate’s Guide of 1903
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.
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.
Woodmans, No 43:
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
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).
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. 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. Advertisements below from Mate’s Guide 1903 and Burnham on Sea Golf Handbook, c1910’s.
(Thanks to Winston and Robert Thomas: ‘The Book of Burnham on Sea’ for some of the information above)
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