Timely revamp for historic shop

An old image of Sleemans store on Exeter Road. Ref exe 5111-03-15SH.

An old image of Sleemans store on Exeter Road. Ref exe 5111-03-15SH. - Credit: Archant

Exmouth’s oldest family-run shop is being redecorated for the first time in more than half-a-century.

Sleemans Outfitters as it is today. Ref exe 5115-03-15SH. Photo Simon Horn

Sleemans Outfitters as it is today. Ref exe 5115-03-15SH. Photo Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

And such is the mammoth task facing Sleemans Gentleman’s Outfitters in Exeter Road, the owners are shutting up shop for three weeks from the beginning of February.

Sleemans was opened by brothers George and Ernest Sleeman in early 1907, and harks back to a bygone pre-war era of gentlemen’s outfitters.

George’s son, the late Bill Sleeman, took over in 1962 after cutting his teeth in the 1930s delivering to customers on his bike as a boy. And while similar stores have come and gone over the past 20 years, Sleemans has stood the test of time.

But not even the 1960s décor can last forever - and proprietor Julian Sleeman said: “The shop needs to reflect our commitment to continue as the oldest established business in the town, providing not only for our established customer base but to show new customers what the new Sleemans will have to offer.

“I still remain very mindful of the instructions Bill gave us assisting us from his hospital bed.

“He was very pleased the shop was being kept and he wanted and hoped that the family continued the business after he had gone.

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“Five years later, we are still continuing with Bill’s wishes.”

Elegant Edwardian features, like the wood panelling, will be integrated with the work to ensure the shop remains in keeping with the traditional feel.

Julian added: “Initial works have uncovered two brick fireplaces which will be made focal points within the new internal design.

“We estimate that these were covered over in approximately 1907.”

The shop front will be refreshed, but will remain very much in the same unique architectural style.

With a new online ordering service in the offing, Sleemans is truly entering the 21st century.

The redecoration work will see the store close for three weeks from Monday February 2.

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