In the business part of the meeting Keith Cottam welcomed the members and outlined the programme for the evening. As an addenda to the Chairman’s report, John Read spoke about the progress of the Fairford Community Play project, for which FHS has obtained a substantial grant. It will be produced in collaboration with Fairford’s schools and FADS over 4 or 5 nights in October 2007 in St Mary’s Church. The LHI grant has also enabled FHS to buy equipment and set up the FHS website www.fairfordhistory.org.uk and Suzanne Jones of TGN Ltd, who designed the website, demonstrated the contents so far. The business part of the meeting was then concluded, all committee members being re-elected en bloc.
Peter Yells then gave a talk about the family firm of Yells Brothers which was established in 1858 and was involved in the building trade for 120 years. The firm’s first jobs were mainly linked to agriculture there being many large farms in the area e.g Arkells, Cole and Iles. They carried out of lot of work for Dr A C King Turner at The Retreat, one job being to replace all the locks with special asylu
m locks at a total cost of £14 which must have been expensive in those days. Another big job was the building of Burdocks, Mr Yells could oversee this from his house as he lived at Vane House in Horcott Road at the time.
When Peter’s father took over more building work was undertaken, houses were constructed on the Burford Road at Lechlade, London Road in Cirencester, Palmer Hall in Fairford (1936), and houses at Blunsdon. The firm often used the designs of Sidney Pile, the architect. Yells employed upwards of 50 men at one time, and during the Second World War some men were able to keep their jobs as it was a reserved occupation but could be called away at short notice to help repairs required by thebombing of London. After the War much of the work involved modernising cottages as grants were then available. Yells converted the Old Farmor’s School into the town library and a youth leader’s flat on the first floor. The firm ceased trading in 1978 due to the general decline in the building market at that time.
Mr Yells brought along many items including company ledgers, day books, customised stationery, and pictures that had been stored in his attic for many year. It was a very interesting insight into another slice of Fairford local history.