Colin Dean reviews Mills on the Yeo and the men who worked them.
This must sound like the title of a serious study – and so it is. Author Martin Bodman describes it as a gazetteer of 91 watermill sites in the River Yeo basin in south-east Somerset and north-west Dorset. But when you see the colourful cover and the page lay-outs containing detailed maps and photographs of most of the locations, you will be drawn to pick it up. And when you discover in the acknowledgements that respected family historians Barry Brock, Graham Bendell and John Brooking are included, plus Sally Morgan and Jessamy Wilsdon of Dorset History Centre, you will know that it is well worth examining.
The bold title of the book is Mills on the River Yeo – but it is the subtitle underneath which will attract family historians – and the men who worked them. Such a meticulous book obviously has a similar index. The names of the 38 bakers listed are shown under ‘B’ for Bakers rather than surnames alphabetically. Likewise the 33 farmers and 14 flax spinners under F; Ironfounders, Landowners, Mills under their appropriate letters and of the 196 listed under Millers, this reviewer’s favourite is Urbane Lot SHEPHERD of Pen Mill, Yeovil!
Readers will be able to organise some very interesting days out by using this book. We might even meet at one of them!
Mills on the Yeo and the Men Who Worked Them, Martin Bodman, 120 pages, profusely illustrated, published by Leat Press, Cullompton, 2013. Available from SDFHS, cover price £10.00, UK (posted) £12.60, OS (posted) £15.30.
This review was first published in the November 2013 issue of the SDFHS Journal The Greenwood Tree – also available from the Society’s bookshop.