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Bathpool, Taunton c 1908

Bathpool Taunton c 1908 Taunton Somerset

I thought we could look at Bathpool this issue as it has changed so much in the last 100 years. I have used this super dated image ( 1908 ) of the Bathpool Inn to illustrate the account.

Most villages had their own pubs 100 years ago. Many were simply named after their locality. Sadly “ rebranding “ has meant that the old local names have been dropped in many cases to something entirely inappropriate. This pub is now “ The New Mill “ which is far better than our own local pub which became “ The Pickled Newt “ for a while. It has since returned to “ The Shepherd’s Rest “ though I doubt many shepherd’s have actually rested in this area. It was originally named “ The Galmington Inn “which I thought the best. In 1903 The Bathpool Inn was run by Mr E. Rockett whose name may be linked to Rockett’s Cottages at nearby Creech St Michael.

In 1908 Bathpool was outside the Municipal Borough of Taunton which lead to some interesting occurrences as we shall see. There was another pub here – “ The Rose Inn “ together with a blacksmith, post office,church and chapel. Bathpool was within the parish of West Monkton and local children went to school at Monkton and Monkton Heathfield. Times have certainly changed at Bathpool. Its prominence as a village on a main route, the A 38, has gone but we shall soon see a big new Aldi supermarket arriving.

In September 1915 Thomas Redler and Sons Bathpool Mills were partially destroyed by fire. This was partly due to an ongoing dispute between the Borough and Rural District Councils. This meant that the Borough Fire Brigade was unable to attend but had a grandstand view of the event as it sat helplessly on the Borough boundary. This was the second serious fire at the mills which had moved from the traditional water driven process to steam power. In 1842 the railways came to Taunton and to carry the road above the line the Tone bridge at Bathpool was raised. This involved the digging of two big pits either side of the line and river on the East side of the road. Borough “ scavengers” were not allowed to dump rubbish within one mile the Borough boundary. Where the private contractors dumped rubbish was left entirely to them but often they ignored the one mile rule. By 1902 the Borough’s contractors were collecting 10,000 cubic yards of refuse a year. The numerous complaints of dumped refuse lead to the construction of a refuse destructor in 1903 at Obridge. Bathpool was an ideal place to dump town rubbish and various complaints about the smell ensued. Both the bridge pits were filled up with rubbish in 1892 the larger South of the railway taking some 2,500 cubic yards of refuse. The smaller pit to the north of the line now lies under the end cottage garden and part of the railway line which was widened at a later date. Dumping at the larger pit resulted in a court case at Taunton Police Court in Feb. 1893. ( Ref Gazette, Feb 4th 1893 ). The serious pollution there is graphically described. “ Bathpool was a most unhealthy spot “.

In an exercise in social archaeology both pits were completely exhumed by myself and others and every item recovered broken or whole recorded. This made more interesting as tipping at the pit can be precisely dated from around mid 1892 to Feb. 1893. The pit contents did not suggest that Taunton was a wealthy town. Most products recorded were inexpensive day to day items with little in the way of luxury products. Clay pipes from the barracks were found    ( Somerset Light Infantry ) as well as items from the hospital. Other pits around Taunton were exhumed and recorded including the old swimming pool at Fullands school where the young General Gordon built the character seen in later life in the freezing cold stream fed water.

Bathpool is now a busy suburb of Taunton with vast estates of new housing marching away into the countryside. The pit we dug has been re excavated to form a lake. Bathpool has long lost it’s status as a quiet environ of Taunton but at least the awful smell has long gone.

By Nick Chipchase

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