>One of the joys of visiting somewhere new is finding a shop that is still trading just as it has for decades. On our way to Devon we wandered off the A303 and found ourselves at Ilminster, a place neither of us had visited before. We parked opposite the beautiful St Mary’s Church and stepping out of the Wheelerwagon were transfixed, open-mouthed, by the sight of Dyer’s Drapers And Outfitters.
The store started as RP Wheadon And Son in 1870 and the doorways still bear the original custodian’s name, as do the magnificent etched-glass doors. RA Dyer took over in 1937 and ran the place until the 1990s. The two-floored shop is now in the hands of the Speke family who rescued the store when it suddenly closed in 2005. It seems to be doing well. An elderly couple we spoke to outside told us how proud the town was of Dyer’s, and what a fine place Ilminster was to live “… even though we’ve now got a Tesco that nobody wanted”.
The staff were mostly big-haired ladies of a certain age with half-moon glasses hanging round their necks on gold chains. They were a delighful bunch and very indulgent of me poking my camera lens into the original wooden cabinets and fittings. Captain Peacock must have been round the back having a crafty Woodbine.