Webpage created: September 27, 2019
Webpage updated: September 27, 2019
SELLECK'S WESLEY RESTAURANT / JAMES WILLIAM SELLECK (1875-1954)
The Plymouth business house of Mr J W Selleck, dining room proprietor, was located at 7 and 8 East Street, alongside the Plymouth Market, before the Second World War and thereafter at Selleck's Wesley Restaurant, Ebrington Street, Plymouth.
Selleck's Wesley Restaurant, Plymouth,
James William Selleck was born in Lee Moor, Devon, in 1875, the third child of 35-years-old Mr George F and Mrs Sarah Selleck. His father was the blacksmith at Shaugh Prior, where they lived at number 5 Shop Cottages.
He evidently took to catering from an early age and went to London to train. He returned to Devon and opened a bakery in East Street, adjoining Plymouth Market. It was quite successful and he married Miss Caroline Willcock at the Ebrington Street (formerly Ham Street) Wesleyan Methodist Chapel on May 12th 1900.
His business was well established by the outbreak of the Great War and he was supplying Cornish pasties to the armed forces based in Plymouth.
Between the two world wars his restaurant became a popular venue for inhabitants and visitors as well as farmers and butchers at the nearby Market. It is said that Mr Selleck firmly believed he was a servant of the public and refused to make excess profit in his trade.
In 1924 the family moved from the premises over the shop in East Street to Townsend House at Mutley. In 1937 the family moved to a newly-built property, "Sungarth", in the village of Wotter.
The East Street premises were destroyed in the Blitz of Friday March 21st/22nd 1941. Mr Selleck was by now 65 years of age and one might have imagined he would have retired at this point. But no. Instead he purchased the derelict Ham Street Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Ebrington Street, which had been empty ever since it was gutted by fire in September 1937, and not only opened a bakery but also a restaurant. He even installed a pastry press that produced seven equal portions.
It was such a novel thing to do in those days that everybody in Plymouth had heard of Selleck's Wesley Restaurant, even if they had not actually visited the place.
During the 1950s the Restaurant was taken over by the Exeter firm of Messrs Hill, Palmer and Edwards Limited.
Mr James William Selleck died at his home in Wotter on Saturday October 9th 1954. The funeral at Wotter Methodist Church on Wednesday October 13th 1954 was attended by over 200 people including many well known names from the business community in the City and Mr W G Edwards representing Messrs Hill, Palmer & Edwards Ltd. The service was conducted by the Reverend Arnold Skelding, assisted by the Reverend Russell Spear, and the organist was Mrs R Selleck.