Item BCA - 2018.1445 - T.W. Pembrey, department store in the High Street

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BCA - 2018.1445


T.W. Pembrey, department store in the High Street


  • late C19th early C20th (Creation)

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pdf of 10 photographs and 6 pages, 2 each of 3 letters, notice to parents re The Elms School for ladies

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T. W. Pembrey had a department store in the High Street and it is the only department store that has ever been in Bampton. It took up what today (2018) are three separate dwellings and a shop. Across Bushey Row opposite the Morris Clown is a little shop today and that part of Pembrey's sold gents clothing; you can see suits outside on a rail in one of the pictures. The rest of the shop included the present day Strawberry Cottage, thatched, Lesta House and No7 High Street. Just about anything could be bought there from clothing to household items and it also housed the post office until 1918 when that moved to Wheelgate House in the Market Square. Before Pembrey's owned it, it was owned by R. C. Smith and there is a wonderful old photograph of it with the firemen standing outside in the road. The picture was almost certainly taken by Henry Taunt.
The Busby family bought the shop from Pembreys and they sold to Les and Stella King who ran it from 1960 to 1970 after which, the three properties on the west side of Bushey Row became private dwellings but the other side of the road remains a commercial premise. It has been Fleur de Lys hair dressers, a video rental shop, a shop selling gardening items, a Physiotherapy shop and now it has other nick-knacks in there but I've never been inside to find out exactly what, possibly because nothing on the outside gives me a clue as to what I might find inside.
Vera Elward can remember the Busby family who owned it and you can find a film of the conversation about the shop with Vera on YouTube at the following address.
There are scans of three wonderful letters written by the Pembrey's to potential employees which read:-
Bampton's only ever department store, T W Pembrey, included what today are four separate buildings; the pottery shop across Bushey Row road, Strawberry Cottage, Lesta House and No7 High Street. Furniture, footwear, clothing, floor covering to millinery etc was sold and it also housed the Post Office until 1918 when the post office relocated to Wheelgate House, still in the High Street.
Their daughters took over The Elms in Broad Street and ran a boarding school for young ladies there and you can see the information given to prospective parents regarding what had to be brought by each pupil.

1. A Memorandum on headed paper from T W Pembrey, Draper & Co to the Misses Smith in Lakenheath May 11th 1875.
"Your references are satisfactory. Should now like to know when you wish to come. We can manage till the end of the month. I hope when you come you will feel at home with us and that it will be for a permanency as we much dislike changes. I forget if I told you that Bampton is quite a country town and very quiet and we are homely people but I trust we shall get on comfortably together. I suppose you know Mr F Marshall, we expect him with us next Saturday but I regret for the last time this year".

2. A second Memorandum on headed paper from T W Pembrey, Draper & Co to Miss H Smith in Lakenheath.
"Dear Madame, Your experience is rather thin but if you are cleaver at millinery, and have naturally good taste, think you would like us. We are giving our present Milliner £20 per annum. She suits us well but is about to be married. Would remain the same salary for the first six months. Should this be satisfactory please send experience." August 5th 1875.

3. A third Memorandum on headed paper from T W Pembrey, Draper & Co to Miss L Smith in Lakenheath.
"Dear Madam, You do not say if you have been accustomed to the management of ? (can't read it, may be ‘workroom’). Should like to know if you are considered a good fit as you would be required to take all orders and fit. Our second hand has been with us six or seven years so that it is quite necessary the first should have good taste and style as well as fit. This department having gone back the last two years owing to the management we are anxious to improve it. If you think you are quite competent to undertake this please send reference and say how long in last situation. Our hours of business are from 1/4 past 8 to 8 o'clock. You would have entire control of workroom hands varying from 3 to 6. I am yours truly T W Pembrey." August 5th 1875

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