Sleemans Wine store aka Tenby Sailing Club


Tenby Sailing Club, was established in 1936 and is situated in the heart of Tenby’s picturesque harbour. The building that houses the club is situated at the head of the sluice and was built in 1825. It was built as a store for a Bristol Merchant called Sleeman and used for imported goods including wine, vinegar, oil, fruits and salt.

Interestingly though, it is perhaps a little known fact that in St Mary’s church there is a brass plaque on the north aisle wall that was raised to commemorate a certain Sir William Henry Sleeman, a relative of our Bristol merchant who was charged with the task of eradicating Thuggee in 19th century India.

The Thugs can be traced back to 12th century India, devotees of the goddess Kali they were drawn from various religions and walks of life. Their strange practices began to be noticed by the British during the British Raj period in the 19th century when some mass gravesites were discovered.

It seems that hundreds of people travelling around India, mostly merchants and pilgrims, met a grisly end at the hands of Thuggees who prided themselves on being able to dispatch a victim quietly and quickly by strangulation with a noose. The victim was robbed and buried in such a way as to speed up decomposition. This was a way of life and survival for many men and women, and indeed boys as young as 10 were welcomed into the sects.

Sir William Henry Sleeman began investigating the cult methodically and between 1830 and 1841 his police captured at least 3,700 Thugs. They were tried and imprisoned and as many as 500 were executed. These purges supressed the cult extremely successfully, even though doubt has subsequently been cast on so many aspects of the whole affair. It is of course where we get the word thug to describe a violent destructive person.

I’m glad to report that you can still find wine at the former Sleeman’s store, also beer, spirits and delicious food at what is now our friendly sailing club as well as an active social life and the opportunity to take up sailing!

Sailing takes place all year in dinghies and cruisers with a regular racing, regatta and training programme. It is also a very popular venue for National Championships and has been hosting national competitions nearly every year since 1960. It has a thriving junior section and encourages sailing; the club owns a range of club boats (Optimists, Fevas, Teras, Junior Toppers, Lasers and Wayfarers) which can be used by club members.

The club is open to non-members, although members receive discount on food and drink purchased. The club balcony overlooks the harbour; there is nowhere else in Tenby so well placed to enjoy the seaside vibe and a glorious sunset! Come on down to join the party; the club is open daily in the summer months, but weekends only in the winter.


by Marion Davies & Ted Lewis