Milestone anniversary for Ilfracombe store

Chas N Pedlar in Ilfracombe High Street marks its 90th anniversary.

ILFRACOMBE’S very own department store that has served generations of towns folk and remains a centre piece in the High Street celebrates its 90th birthday this year.

Chas N Pedlar and Son, known to most as ‘Pedlar’s’, is the oldest established family business in the town and after four generations continues to thrive on its original site at 27, High Street.

Nick Pedlar, his daughter Helen and their four staff will be celebrating the 90 year milestone with their customers tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday with plenty of birthday good cheer plus the offer of 20 per cent off everything in store during the two days, except school wear.

New products are added and stock lines improved constantly, but in many ways the business remains much the same, offering china and glass gifts, menswear, hardware, gardening supplies and a school outfitting service.

“The family have always had a real passion for the business and for Ilfracombe,” said Nick.

“Over the years we have had such loyal customers and generations of families have returned to us – there are still people who come into the shop and remember being served by my grandfather.

Most Read

“And of course it is down to the customer service from our staff. We have had loyal staff who have been magnificent – the longest serving was here for 65 years, others for 55, three for 40 years and three for 20.”

To put it all into perspective, Pedlars has sold commemorative china and memorabilia for every Royal coronation and jubilee since 1935 – not to mention the many royal weddings in between.

“We still have a 1935 jubilee flag and last week we even sold an Andrew and Fergie goblet!” added Nick.

The business was established by Nick’s grandfather Charles Nicholas Pedlar in 1922, but dates back to around 1860, when Charles’ uncle William Pugsley ran a furniture and drapery shop at number 26 next door, before going on to purchase the china and hardware shop at 27.

Shop keeping was certainly in the family blood – Charles was born in Swimbridge where his mother ran the village shop and he was sent to Ilfracombe as an apprentice.

After learning his trade he bought number 27 from his uncle and in 1946 was joined by his son Charles Glanville. In 1967 his own son Nicholas entered the family business after training at Dingles in Plymouth and Simpsons of Piccadilly.

“I knew at the age of 12 this was what I wanted to do and I have never regretted a moment of it,” said Nick.

“My father had three children but my brothers John, Richard and I were never pressured into becoming part of the family business.

“Any retail business is the heart of a high street and if you haven’t got that you have lost the heart of the community.”

In 1967 Pedlars was one of the founding six members of the Home Hardware co-operative of independent retailers, enabling them to compete on a level playing field and with competitive prices to match the big chains. Today it has more than 400 members.

Nick says his wife Vicky remains ‘a very understanding lady’ and he has no plans to retire just yet. Of their daughters Helen and Sarah, Helen has joined him after returning from maternity leave and no doubt in time her own son will have a role to play.

“I have no plans to go anywhere either,” she said, “I am passionate about Ilfracombe and its High Street and as a business I really do enjoy it, from buying products through to watching them go out of the store.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter