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Farewell my darling Clementina

Wednesday 28 February 2018, 14:25
By John Smith

Clementina, the hardware,kitchen and garden shop on Wincanton's High Street

As 2017 came to a close, residents of Wincanton were saddened by the news that Mrs Pam Cave had passed away. To many she was better known as the owner of Clementina, the hardware shop on Wincanton’s High Street. What you may not know about is Pam’s family heritage, and the contribution she and her family made to the town.

Pam’s grandfather, Thomas Clementina, emigrated from Italy to Wincanton in the late 1800s, where he set up his own business as a rag and bone merchant with his own horse and cart. Today we might even call it environmentally friendly. Thomas married, but sadly his wife passed away all too soon.

Thomas also used his horse and cart to make the 12-mile round trip to Sunday Mass in Stourton each week, because at that time there was no Catholic Church in Wincanton. There were also times when Mass was conducted in his own home on North Street, until a Church was finally built.

Thomas gave £500 – a great deal of money in those days – towards buying the site where the new Church would be built. Acorn House on South Street was purchased and the site cleared to accommodate it. The barn remained, and became St. Luke and St. Teresa’s Hall.

Mrs. Pam Cave, owner of Clementina on Wincanton High StreetThomas re-married and had a son, Basil, who married Nora. In 1929, Basil took over a local business owned by Mr Frank Buck. At that time most of its clients were local farmers, wanting dairy utensils and farming implements, but later they also stocked household items. Over the years, Clementina sold a huge range, including bungalow baths in various sizes (for bathing in front of an open fire), and glass butter churns with wooden paddles.

The original shop was on the corner of South Street and Market Place, next to Albion House. The current premises, a substantial town house, was bought in 1936 and had history of its own, having been a solicitor’s offices, and then a branch of Stuckey’s Bank; one of the earliest banks in the country. To this day the walk-in safe is still inside.

In 1937, Basil and Nora had a daughter, Pam. Her formal education began in a small private junior school based in Lambrook House on Church Street. Long-term Wincanton residents may remember Lambrook House as offices for Wincanton Transport, later converted to apartments. Her secondary schooling took place at The Hall School in Bratton Seymour.

Pam’s grandfather on her mother’s side also started his own business, Tucker’s Cycle shop, originally at the bottom of North Street, but eventually he moved it to Pine House on High Street. Running a business was a natural part of family life, and not restricted to the men. Pam’s grandmother and her aunt Polly also ran a china shop together.

During her schooling years, Pam enjoyed helping her father in the shop after school, and upon completing her secondary education, she naturally slotted right into the day-to-day running of the shop, continuing to support her father who didn’t enjoy good health.

In time, Pam was courted by David Cave, whom she met at the Young Conservatives in Wincanton. Father, Basil, and husband, David, both served as parish councillors, and David also served as Chair of the Council; Mayor of Wincanton.

Pam married David in 1965 and they had a son, Nicholas. In 1985 they sold a parcel of land at the rear of their property, where the Cash’s Park estate was eventually built. At the same time, they donated two acres of land known as Coneygore Green, to be kept as an open space for the people of Wincanton.

Pam’s passion was running the shop, which she did till the day ill health prevented her. When she wasn’t working in the shop, she was a keen bowler, playing in Castle Cary. Her game was good enough to play for Somerset County on several occasions.

Books about Wincanton, from which some of the information in this article was taken

Pam went to St. Luke and St. Teresa’s Catholic Church, faithfully attending Mass every Sunday from her earliest years till arthritis prevented her making the return journey. For the last 12 years of her life she kept cats, having grown up in a home where both dogs and cats were part of family life.

Pam is survived by her son, Nicholas, a chartered accountant who has a degree in Business Economics and Accounting, who has done the bookkeeping for Clementina since the late 1990s. Nicholas is a member of the Catholic Truth Society, and enjoys reading.

There is no question that Pam was a lovely lady, respected by many people in the community over the years she lived and worked in Wincanton.

Clementina may have been Wincanton’s longest serving High Street business, but it was Pam’s request that on her death the shop be closed. Nicholas explained that his mother always thought the business needed two active people to run it, and with the advent of modern DIY superstores and internet shopping, it has become much harder to survive in today’s high street environment.

Sadly, Clementina has closed for the last time. Both Pam and her shop will be greatly missed.




Some information for this article was obtained from the book Town Tales Wincanton by Jenny Peet. Copies may still be available from the Wincanton Museum.

More information was obtained from the book Church of St. Luke and St. Teresa – One Hundred Years of History, by Margaret Burgess. Copies are available from the Church.


Posts: 1
Reply #1 on : Thu March 01, 2018, 11:57:45
Thanks for this very informative article. We will really miss Clementina's both for its old-world atmosphere and its extraordinary variety of stock. Its demise leaves a big hole in Wincanton's range of shops.

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