20th Century



With the improved transport and communication of the 20th century, Mere lost its isolation as a rural community which had been largely self-sufficient in food production and in having shops to supply all needs. 

In 1908 a Mere & District Smallholders’ Association was started and some of the larger farms were split up into smallholdings to rent. This proved to be a great help to those men returning to Mere after W.W.1 and others who could not afford to buy or to otherwise make a living from farming.

Mere between the wars

Image: Mere Museum

Also In 1908 two wells were sunk in a field on the eastern side of Mere where a plentiful supply of good water was found. This was the start of Mere being a supplier of water to a large part of S.W.Wiltshire and N.Dorset.

In W.W.1 troops were billeted in the town and the Grove Buildings in Church Street were used as a Red Cross Hospital to treat the many sick and wounded soldiers sent there direct from France

Following the First World War things began to improve. In 1922 the National and British Schools were amalgamated. Mere Infants and Junior Schools occupying the former British School buildings and Mere Senior School in the former National School. This merger did much to unite the Church of England and non-conformist factions in the town. The year was also auspicious for the founding of the Hill Brush Company, which soon expanded providing more employment. The first council houses were provided at White Road in 1926 and a further 54 followed at Clement’s Lane and Barnes’ Place. Despite having an early supply of gas Mere had to wait until 1931 before a regular electricity supply was provided by the Wessex Electrical Company using overhead wires from Southampton.

In W.W.2  an Army camp was built in Manor Road and an airfield at Zeals was operational between 1942 and 1946. 

Mere benefited from the increasing prosperity the country experienced following the Second World War, but in the 1970s the A303 bypass was built and Mere lost the passing trade and almost immediately half its shops.  Activity did not really pick up again until the 21st century when Mere's population and liveliness was boosted by an influx of affluent early retirees mostly from the Home Counties. The population was 1,847 in 1921; it is now nearing 3,000.

Mere is now a village with a great community spirit. It has a Public Library, a Museum, an Historical Society, a Dramatic Society and many other clubs, and groups providing a wide variety of activities in sport, education and entertainment.