Bowdens consists of two shops on three floors. Shop 1 – mainly for footwear including Brasher, Meindl, Grisport walking boots, and Mephisto. Shop 2 – the larger side, for: Ground floor – camping, compasses, penknives, binoculars, radios, BT phones, electrical, torches, walking poles, maps and Dartmoor books, DIY tools, electrical, pet food, ironmongery, paint, fishing licences. A few steps up – stationery, toys and picture frames. 1st floor – gardening dept and shop museum. 1st floor (from front door) – clothing: Barbour, Aigle, Target Dry, Mac in a Sac and Regatta to name just a few. Further along is our kitchen gadget and household dept. 2nd floor – the wellington boot room. We also stock Calor Gas and solid fuel
James Bowden (1837 – 1921) came from Meavy in 1862 and bought the Forge in Mill Street from a Mr. Ireland. This became Vulcan Iron Works as it developed into making agricultural tools and machinery alongside the shoeing of horses.
James also bought Vulcan House from a Mr Murch. The front room became a very small shop selling chamber pots, hurricane lamps and candles, run by Aunt Aggie (Agnes Clara Bowden) until she retired in 1952.
Paul Wimborn Smith – father of the present owners Peter and Colin – bought the business from Aunt Aggie, transferred his Silverlite and Gas business from Exeter to Chagford and updated the shop. It was still small – where the shoe department is today. The Forge closed in 1956.
Peter and Colin have run the business since 1962. They are related to James Bowden and the Church Bell Hangers William Aggett & Sons through their grandmother Emmeline Aggett nee Bowden.
In 1970 Peter and Colin bought Bolt’s House and Grocery shop, incorporating the shop into Bowdens, then extending into part of Vulcan House, linked by building over the passageway. Later in 1997 they extended the shop onto all floors as we know it today.