Take a look back as we we retrace our steps to the very beginning.
Over 40 years in the outdoor industry has been an amazing experience not to mention an incredible journey. Founded originally by the Clark family and still in the same hands today we are still passionate about the outdoors and the industry in which we work. Our success stems not only from our retail stores and online business but equally our team of dedicated and knowledgeable staff that offer an unequalled level of service. Our focus today is still the same as when we first started in 1977 to seek out unique brands with an equally great heritage and with a passion for products and the outdoors that we all enjoy so much. – Simon Clark, Taunton Leisure Managing Director.
Taunton Leisure & Camping (as it was known then) is founded by Chris Clark and opens its doors on East reach, Taunton for the first time. Back then the store was not much bigger than a garden shed and amongst other various bits and bobs, mostly sold family tents in the summer and mobile gas heaters for domestic use through winter. The company is still independently run by the Clark Family. The Original Taunton Leisure Logo featured a gas bottle going for a hike.
This small shop grew so successfully that within a year, Taunton Leisure was able to purchase the premises in East Reach, we still trade out of this shop today, though it has been redeveloped and extended many times to accommodate our ever-growing range of outdoor kit.
Business expanded rapidly and in addition to tents, camping equipment and bottled gas Taunton Leisure now offered carefully selected footwear, rucksacks, climbing and canoeing products. Taunton Leisure also brought out a lot of own label gear including boots, packs, jackets and even an Icelandic tent.
Taunton Leisure launches its own brand sleeping bags Seen here with MD Simon Clark from left to right: The Purple Softy, Rainbow Expedition and the Rainbow warrior. We still see some of these bags in circulation today. Many have been all over the world. £1.00 from every sleeping bag sale was donated to Greenpeace.
Taunton Leisure opened its second shop in Bristol along Bedminster Parade, the shop has grown a reputation as one of the very best footwear fitters in the South-west and has many people travel from further parts of the UK for the fantastic range and service.
Taunton Leisure produces its in-house catalogue detailing many pieces of kit within its range, we used family and friends as models, took our own pictures, and used a local company to throw it all together. It of course featured an era-appropriate order form which could be filled in and posted off in order to have products delivered to have great kit straight to your door! The mail order catalogue was available in this form for another 10 years.
A catalogue cover from 1990/1991
Taunton Leisure opens its Exeter Shop, its largest shop yet. It has a permanent tent display area upstairs, a massive range of climbing gear, and fantastic facilities for all sorts of outdoor gear.
The original Taunton Store gains a huge extension to make way for even more gear and has a natural stone fireplace fitted.
On this day adventurists Richard and Andrew Mclaughlin from Taunton completed a 17,000-mile journey by cycle and sea kayak setting what was at the time claimed to be the longest human-powered journey. During their trip they survived a shipwreck, were shot at in West Timor, survived a cyclone and narrowly escaped being thrown in jail in Tibet. At Taunton Leisure we were delighted to have helped with advising on and supplying essential equipment for this adventure.
Taunton Leisure Exeter offer their services in assisting customers Ann Daniels, Caroline Hamilton and Pom Oliver in becoming the first British women to have trekked to the North Pole and also the first women to have trekked to both poles as part of an all-female expedition, occasionally they still pop in.
Taunton Leisure celebrates 25 years since its founding in 1977!
Taunton Leisure saw the introduction of e-commerce functionality to our website. In other words, for the first time, you could buy your outdoor gear from us online!
Chris Clark, the founder of Taunton Leisure retires. His son, Simon takes becomes the new managing director. After growing up with the company, working in shops and managing many aspects of the business, Simon still runs the roost today.
The Taunton Leisure logo was updated to its current design and our loyalty cards were updated accordingly as well. Here are some other logos and loyalty cards from throughout the years.
Exeter Shop Manager Nick B makes us proud while on a training trip to Sweden with Tentipi. He went Ice fishing and caught this monster!
Taunton Leisure celebrates 40 years since its founding.
From our very beginnings, Taunton Leisure has always tried our best to seek out unique brands with an equally great heritage and make them available to the outdoor lovers of the South-West and beyond. Some of our staff have been with us since the company was very young and it is to all our very knowledgeable and experienced staff with which we owe our success and the great reputation which proceeds us. We keep three fantastic stores with an outstanding range of excellent outdoor gear and garments, these fantastic products and our love of the outdoors is what drives us to equip others for whatever adventures await them. We have recently won TGO Magazines 2019 Independent retailer of the year award, we are incredibly humbled to have won this honour and it has been a wonderful way to start a new decade in Taunton Leisure History.