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Postcards of Dorchester - The High Street

All Cards from the private postcard collection of Michael Russell OPC for Dorchester & Fordington
© Copyright Mr. M Russell FIPD All Rights Reserved

CARD 13. High West Street - c1896


Left: Square tower of St Peters Church & clock tower of Corn Exchange
Right: Judge Jeffreys lodgings and the spire of All Saints church


CARD 14. High West Street- c1940


Same view taken slightly further back about 44 years later
the arched window (left) is the end of Holy Trinity Church.


Genealogical Notes:-

Card 13: HIGH WEST Street c1896:                 Viewed against Card 14: HIGH WEST Street c1940:       [Return to High Street Postcards]

The scene on the left of the street:-
There are three buildings in front of the square tower of St Peters Church. These are:-

    (1). A shop selling bicycles under an awning. This shop became "Thurman" and the end of the name can clearly be seen on Card 14 (1944) and with the aid of a magnifying glass the full name is just visible on Card 23 arranged vertically down the side of the building (a view from St Peters looking back up the street). The proprietor appears to be William Henry Clayton Thurman. He was the son of Michael Jerrard & Clementia Thurman and was baptised in St Marys Church Melcombe Regis on 1st January 1855. His grandfather was a merchant but he took his trade from his father who ran an ironmongers in Weymouth from before 1871. William was working for his father in Weymouth in 1881, still single aged 26. He married the following year however in Islington London to Sarah Lizzie Doswell and they had three children between 1883 to 1889. Its not clear when he came to Dorchester as he gives the place of birth for all three children as Weymouth, but had all the births registered at Dorchester suggesting that he moved there to establish his own business immediately after his marriage. He was certainly living at 17 South Street by 1889 as he is in the Dorchester Street Directory for that year. He is still shown to be at 17 South street in the Directories for 1895 and 1915 and he certainly ran a business from there as the shop was rebuilt in 'Art Deco' style in 1932 and there is a splendid picture of it in the book "Dorchester Past" by Jo Draper (page 100). It was demolished in 1964. These two postcards however suggest that there was Thurman's in High West Street as well, between at least 1929 & 1940, and I would like to hear from anybody that remembers the store and can shed some light on whether this was owned by the same William HC Thurman.The shop is now (2011) the home of the Cheltenham & Gloucester Building Society.

    (2) The second shop also with awnings and a lady, gentleman and child standing out the front, has changed very little by Card 14 (1940) and clearly headed 'HANDEL HOUSE'. It was there by that name from 1929 to post 1940. the building is now (2011) the home of the shop 'Presents unlimited'.

    (3) The third property is the Dorset County Museum which was founded in 1844 but opened as a museum by the Earl of Shaftesbury on New Years Day 1884 and can still be visited today.

St Peters Church extends down the street behind the gas lamp and has its entrance jutting out with its small tiled roof and 3 people standing in the street. Although not clear from the picture there is then the cross roads (left into North square, or right into Cornhill) which runs across the road immediately in front of the Corn Exchange (easily seen with its clock tower) on the left and Riglar's the tobacconists (the square white building) with its name prominently displayed on the right.

The scene an the right of the street:- (working from the front)

    (1). Number 8 High West Street: In the foreground can be seen the shop 'RB BROWN' with gentleman's waterproof clothing hanging outside on display. The proprietor was Robert Bullen BROWN the son of an Innkeeper and Sail cloth manufacturer who ran the Crown Inn at Tolpuddle. Robert married in 1878 to Mary Ann FOOKES a native of Charmouth and settled to live at 52 High East Street in Dorchester. By 1889 he is listed as selling tents and rope products with shops in Weymouth and Bournemouth. The 1895 Directory describes him as a "manufacturer of marquees, tents, rick cloths & improved waterproof clothing, railway van, wagon, cart, engine & machine covers, horse clothing, sack & bag, rope & twine, maker & dealer in india rubber goods; marquees & tents let on hire; 52 High East Street & 8 High West Street. & at Weymouth.

    He also placed an advert in the directory which I have reproduced opposite. There are two gentlemen standing in this shop doorway watching the photograph being taken which makes me wonder whether one of then is Mr Brown. If anybody knows please make contact. The shop is now (2011) 'Cafe Jagos'.

    (2). Number 7 High West Street: Is a china and glassware shop run by James SPICER with all the mugs hanging outside on display. The shop has still retained much of its character and is now (2011) a men's clothes shop 'Frederick L Malb'.

    (3). Number 6 High West Street: Is the old County House the former lodgings of Judge Jeffreys who in 1685 condemned 292 People to death at the 'Bloody Assizes' of which 74 were executed and the heads of some impaled on spikes outside St Peters church. (See Cards 25 & 27 and the link provided for better views of this building). It is now (2011) a Restaurant and Coffee Shop.

    (4) Numbers 4 & 5 High West Street: This building, slightly clearer in Card 14 (1940), is just beyond the 'antiques' sign on Judge Jeffreys building. It is in fact a large building which can be seen by looking at the top which actually dominates the skyline above Judge Jeffreys Restaurant. It is now the home of the 'Nationwide Building Society'. In 1895 it was occupied by Eliot Pearce & Co, Bankers who drew on Lloyds of London and included the private residence of the bank manager who then was Thomas Rodber CROSS .

    (5). Number 3 High West Street: this is the right hand side of the next building which can be identified by the triangular gable at the top. In 1895 it was the home of Thomas Strange Biggs & Co who were wine and spirit merchants who also operated out of Swanage. Upstairs was the Dorset Country Club whose Honorary secretary was then Mr EW WILLIAMS. The shop is now (2011) an estate agent called 'Connells'.

    (6). Number 1 & 2 High West Street: This is the last building before the cross roads, which can't really be seen in the picture, but ran between St Peters Church on the left and the Corn Exchange (as already explained above and came from North square) and on this side of the road ran in front of Riglar's into 'Cornhill (See Card 16 taken in 1910). In 1895 Number two High West Street was the residence of the head office of the Dorchester Old Bank (R & R WILLIAMS, Thornton, Sykes & Co) who drew on Williams Deacon & Manchester & Salford Bank of London. The earliest directory that I have is 1830 and this shows a 'WILLIAMS, Pallison & Co' operating from High West Street even then. It is still a bank today (2011) being TSB Lloyds.

    (7). The final building that I would like to comment upon in this picture is 'RIGLAR' the Tobacconists which is clearly visible in both cards as a square white building at the junction (also clear on Card 16). Its address is actually Number 1 Cornhill and its proprietor was Henry William RIGLAR. He was the son of a plasterer by trade George Riglar by his wife Keziah (nee Lock) and was born in Dorchester in 1850. From his teenage years he trained as a hairdressers assistant and married Elizabeth OLD a native of Coombe Keynes at Wareham in 1874 and established a hairdressing business in North square by the following year. He was still there with a growing family in 1881 and successful enough to have an employee. Ten years later however he was running a Tobacconists and trading in Fancy Goods, living at 22 High East street. The 1895 directory shows his business to be at 1 Cornhill and he was still there in 1915 but was actually living with his wife & four of his children at 43 Cornwall Road in the 1901 census. His parents were still alive then aged 80 and 72 but incumbants at Whetstones Almshouses in Dorchester. By 1940 the business had presumably been sold as the shop now carries the name of 'LEWIS'. The shop is now (2011) a jewellers called HARDYS.
    This postcard was produced by 'Valentines' and has a number 25323 on the front. This number relates to the date of the negative used to produce the postcard. Cards in the 1890's start with negative number 11788 and in the 1900's with negative 32485 so it was taken between those dates. If we assume an even yearly rate of negative production this gives an approximate year when the picture was taken of 1896.


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