Old friends die just hours apart

IN a double blow for Exmouth two friends whose businesses over half-a-century were by-words for integrity, gentlemen s outfitter Bill Sleeman and estate agent Peter Eley, both died recently, just hours apart.

IN a double blow for Exmouth two friends whose businesses over half-a-century were by-words for integrity, gentlemen's outfitter Bill Sleeman and estate agent Peter Eley, both died recently, just hours apart.

Both born in 1927, and distantly related, Mr Eley died in hospital on August 31, the same day as the best man at his 1951 wedding, Bill Sleeman.

With no pushy salesmen, high quality clothing and expert knowledge, Sleemans Outfitters in Exeter Road, which celebrated its centenary in 2007, was a throw-back to a bygone era.

Opened by Bill's father, George, in April 1907, he passed the mantle to his eldest son in 1962 and, after seven decades in the business, he was still passionate about his profession until the day he died.


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Then, a gentleman's outfitter was a profession - not just something you did for a few hours on a Saturday to earn extra pocket money.

And former Exmouth Grammar School student Peter Eley was a man cast in the same mould. Born in Exmouth, he joined the Royal Navy towards the end of the Second World War, serving on minesweepers.

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A keen member of Sidmouth's Royal Naval Old Comrades Association's committee, after the war he joined Palmers estate agency in Budleigh Salterton.

He then became manager of the Sidmouth office of Purnell, Daniell and Morrell and ran a successful estate agency in Sidmouth for more than 50 years.

Its president, Bill Craven, had known Peter for 25 years and described him as "a nice chap, easy to get on with and full of ideas.

"He was good natured and always helpful."

Bill was former Commodore of Exmouth Sailing Club and was also known as a local historian and, at the back of his store, he kept a huge archive of photos, documents and newspapers going back over 100 years.

The two men were related and were firm friends and Bill told the Journal in 2007 why his customers kept coming back: "Many modern shops just stock rubbish, cheaply made garments, and my customers really do appreciate not being pressured as soon as they come in through the door.

"Some of my customers have been coming in for 50 years, and I make a point of never taking money unless I know the customer is absolutely satisfied."

? Mr Sleeman's funeral will be held at Holy Trinity Church, on Friday, September 18, at noon.

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