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  • Writer's pictureChris Winter


Updated: Jun 3

The Paul family have run their business of caring for buildings in Wells for over 150 years since the late 1800s

Not many businesses can say they have worked in Wells for 150 years.One that may is the Paul family whose care for buildings in the city began in the late 1800s. Now Wells Civic Society has marked this achievement by presenting a commemorative plaque to Jim Paul, the present owner, who said: “This is a great honour and the plaque will have pride of place in our offices.”It was presented by Philip Welch, the civic society’s vice-chair, who explained: “This is the latest in a series of plaques we are giving as part of our campaign to support long-standing family businesses in Wells.

”According to an advertisement in the Wells Journal, William Paul started the firm of W & H Paul after 17 years working as a painter, decorator and paperhanger. The firm began trading on July 29, 1893 from 16 South Street.

William married Harriet Tripp and it is likely that the name of the firm came from their partnership. They produced 11 children and Harry Paul, their sixth child, took over the running of the business around 1918, having returned from South Africa where he had learnt his craft as a sign-writer and gilder.

Harry ran the business from 2 St Cuthbert Street, where he and his wife Rose brought up four children, Madeline, Jack, George and Sybil. On Harry’s retirement in the 1950s, Madeline, Jack and George continued to run the business, which had developed into building and renovation contractors.

George however, having been apprenticed to his father, continued the sign-writing part of the business. A memorable commission was the restoration of the quarter-jacks and the repainting of the face of the Wells Cathedral clock in 1959. This included gilding the clock hands with gold leaf.

The W & H Paul business continued at premises in 38 Market Street, from where refurbishment of many of the important buildings in Wells was undertaken. The business ceased trading on the retirement of Madeline, Jack and George in 1990.

In the meantime, George’s son Jim qualified as a Chartered Building Surveyor in 1980. Jim became a partner in Davis Blackburn & Partners and opened a new Chartered Building Surveyors’ office in Wells in 1982. The office was located in Rock House, occupying two rooms on the first floor. As the workload increased, new larger offices were acquired at 44 High Street, Wells in 1984 and additional staff recruited. Jim became a Fellow of the RICS in 1989 and the business continued to flourish. Eventually these premises became too small and the business moved in 2007 to their present base in St Cuthbert Street.

Following the retirement of the founding partners, the name of the firm was changed in 2009 to db+PAUL to reflect the ownership.

db + PAUL Location Wells
db + PAUL are located on St Cuthbert Street


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