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Preview days have run on Fridays for the past six years, when Robert sees around 450 people in his massive auction room, once a plimsoll factory, prior to a 700-800-lot sale every Saturday morning.

In July, he opened a 3000 sq ft exhibition-style Antiques and Interiors Centre at the back of the auction room. “Sixty per cent of our auction buyers are private and it’s these customers I’m aiming at,” he explains.

“Many of these and visitors to Greenwich – with the Cutty Sark, Royal Observatory, the open markets, and from December 1 to January 14 ice-skating at the Old Naval College – drop into the user-friendly centre which is open seven days a week and has a cafe.

“We have 20 dealers there selling antiques and collectables and with room for 28. With the centre, I’m marrying wholesale with retail, but the presentation couldn’t be more different.”

Tel: 020 8853 2121.

• Christmas festivities in Greenwich started with the switch-on at 5.30pm of the Christmas lights at Greenwich Market on Friday, December 1. There was a big programme of entertainment in the market on that day, including live bands and specialist designer/maker stalls.

BY JOAN PORTER