William Poarch (Dairyman)


William Poarch (1864 – 1940) married Elizabeth Ann Beake (1860 – 1931). For some reason, despite being unable to read or write, William inserted an ‘a’ into his name, which had originally been ‘Porch’. The reason for this is not clear though it may be that Poarch was a known family name of higher status in Somerset.

In 1891 William and Elizabeth lived in Oxford Street. He was a brickyard labourer and had previously been a farm labourer. All his ancestors in Burnham had been labourers.  By 1901, still in Oxford Street (No. 78), the couple had started the dairy together. There was an outhouse behind the house where the milk was scalded to make the clotted cream.

They had several children, some dying in infancy. The others all worked/helped out in the dairy in some way, most of all Mabel who didn’t leave home at any point. Her shoulders were stooped from carrying the milk churns.

William with two of his children in the cart.

William’s son Fred (b.1894) eventually began to drive the cart and look after the horses. In WW1 he became a driver too, looking after the mules in the battlefield. After the war he returned for 12 years and did the bulk of the driving for the dairy, out to a farm near Highbridge to collect the milk, probably twice a day. He also delivered the milk, with people coming to their doors with a jug to measure it into. Fred and his wife eventually moved to Bristol and had a shop in the Triangle which was bombed in the January 3rd Blitz 1941.

William with cart – note Love Lane Farm Milk Supply sIgn board.

The horse was kept in Love Lane. At some point, the family took ownership of a field there. The connection with Love Lane Farm is not clear, but one assumes from the picture above that William acted as a disrtributor for milk from the farm at some point.

Another son, William Jnr., lost a leg in the battle of Mons then trained as a watch & clock repairer. He returned to Burnham and opened up a business at 36 Abingdon St, where he traded through the 1920s and early 30s before moving the business to Bedminster.

Of William and Elizabeth’s three daughters, May moved to Canada and by the 1930’s Mabel and Alice would have been in their 50’s and maybe glad to sell the dairy after their mother died. The dairy had been taken over by a Mr Whiting by 1935 and changed hands again by 1939 to Gordon WIlliams. By 1952 the dairy was being run by the Funnells until being taken over by a fish and chip business in the early 1970’s, as which it has remained to date.

Frank Poarch (1850-1929) was William’s cousin. He was a carpenter and builder and on the 1911 census listed as carpenter and undertaker, in St Catherines Terrace. He was married to Maria Willicott and they had several children.

Information and images provided by Catherine Poarch  (William’s Great Grand-daughter).