1930s Council Minutes


Somerton Parish Council Minutes 1931-1940


Street lights were converted to electricity in 1931 and public telephones were installed. In 1932 a Rights of Way Act led to the listing and defining of the parish footpaths, and the Council continued to press the District Council to keep them in good repair. There are no more mentions of a market, but the Market Place was used more frequently for fund-raising events by the British Legion, the Women’s Institute and other bodies, and for the Roots Show by the Agricultural Society. The trees in Broad Street and the Market Place suffered from cars running into them and two trees were deliberately poisoned, apparently by a resident who disliked them.


More council houses were built and the water, sewage and electricity systems were extended to outlying parts of the town. Rubbish collections were provided for South Hill and Badgers Cross, where new houses for Marconi’s Radio Station had been built.


The Fire Brigade acquired a motor fire engine in 1935, but the fire service was nationalised just before the War in 1938, so the Parish Council lost control of the Brigade.


It was a period of changes. The Town Planning Act was passed. Elections for parish councils were to be conducted by secret ballot instead of a show of hands. A bus service to Bristol was laid on. Name plates for streets and house numbering were introduced. Litter bins were provided. Sanitary arrangements a the schools were improved. The Somerton Town Band was formed in 1938. a new secondary school was built at Huish Episcopi and a grammar school at Elmhurst in Street, so the junior boys joined the remaining girls at Monteclefe and the Free Grammar School was no more.


Mrs Garland became the first woman to serve on the Council, and in 1940 Tom Coggan who had served on the Council since 1864 - a period of 76 years! - died in office. He had been chairman since 1916.


The War is scarcely mentioned in the Minutes, but Air Raid precautions had begun as early as 1937. By 1940, the Black Out was in place, land for growing vegetables was in demand, scrap metal was being collected and other measures were  in place to keep the Home Front going.