We're getting closer to Top o' Town now on our stroll of Dorchester's high street.

The next stop is 27 High West Street, a red brick Victorian two storey shop. It's currently Frank Herring arts and handicrafts shop and has been with the family for some years. It was previously Lee Motors Showroom and workshop where a small aircraft called the ‘Flying Flea’ was on display. It was also once a ladies hairdresser called Maison Chatele.

Next door at 28 and 29 High West Street is Westwood House. Number 28 seems to have been partly residential with a series of dentists using the building: from 1955-65 W.H.G.North; 1965-71 ?. Hooper; 1972 M.K.Smith and from 1973 Paul J.Conner. Long before then, Kelly’s directory 1895 shows it was the Inland Revenue Office.

At number 29 in 1955 was W.H.Cummings, photographer. It seems also to have been partly residential. In October 1977, an antique shop opened in part of the building. This closed in July 1981 and Westwood House became a bed and breakfast and still trades as such.

Back in 1955 30 High West Street was Nappers Cycle shop until 1966. It was then Mordens Pet Shop from 1967 to 1971. In 1972 it became Symonds and Sampson estate agents which it remains to date. It was originally Symonds, Sampson and Slater after Slaters merged in late 1983. Then they became Symonds, Sampson and Powell in 1986, it was returned to Symonds and Sampson in 1991.

In 1895 Number 31 High West Street was a picture hanging shop called Rendall and Co, glacier and picture hangers.

In 1955 this building was Sandy’s Cafe which changed to Top o’ Town Cafe in 1967 until the premises were sold in 1973. It was Andrews Son and Huxtable, solicitors from April 1974 until July 1996 when Gallery XXXI opened; this lasted a short time before closing in April 1998. July 1998 saw C.M.C. Recruitment occupying the premises which seems to have been split with Loc Out Security in the same building from July 1998. Roxwell Estates estate agents opened in March 2008. It was Axe Valley Home Care from December 2011.

At 32 and 33 High West Street is the Wessex Royale Hotel, a former coaching inn. The facade must have been added to an older building, the staircase and wooden panelling may be 1835-1840. The three central windows on the first floor of the seven bay facade are emphasised by shallow hoods supported on volute brackets, motifs common everywhere at the outset of the reign of Queen Victoria.

Originally built in 1756 as a coaching inn, the entrance for coaches to reach stabling behind was on the right hand side of the entrance door. There was, of course, a further entrance via Princes Street at the back of the hotel.

Number 34 High West Street used to be Locks Post Office, also selling toys. In 1973, John Lock held a closing down sale. The same business was known as ‘Thatchers’ until 1987. Then The Mock Turtle restaurant opened and closed in August 2003. In August 2005 it became The Oriental Chinese Restaurant and take-away. In November 2009 this building became Thai Nakorn. In September 2016 it became Kao San Thai Restaurant.

Number 34A has had many identities over the years. In 1895 it was known as John Pinnock Junior, a hairdresser's and post office. In 1955 it was A.E.Wiggins radio shop. It then became a handicrafts shop run by Miss H.M.Trapp. House of Kings outfitters took over, opening in 1973 and closing in 1998. Cornucopia took over selling ‘whole foods’. In July 1987, estate agents Peter Watts trading as Peter Watts Property Centre was there. It closed in August 1993 and Blades Hairdressers (unisex) moved from no 48 across the road though they closed in 2001. In late 2002, ‘Headway’ charity shop opened and closed in early 2009. In May 2009 it was another charity shop, Dorset Association for the Disabled, then Dorset Blind and is now empty.

*Thanks to Derek Pride for his meticulous research for this week's instalment.