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Brian Thompson (left) and Derek Rothera in The Antique Trader, Camden Passage, late 1980s.

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He was keen to explain that although he disapproved of war, in this case he was avoiding conscription because, as far as he was concerned, Australia was fighting on the wrong side.

The first thing Brian did was to join fellow travellers in a retired ambulance and tour Europe absorbing its cities, monuments and history – it was the 1970s.

He left behind in Australia the band in which he was a guitar player but brought with him the love of the music of the 1960s. He attended the seminal music festival in the Isle of Wight in August 1970.

Two months later at a party in Croydon Brian met and fell in love with Derek Rothera, a relationship that lasted till his death, six days before they would have celebrated 48 years together in Islington.

In April 1970 Derek had opened The Antique Trader in Islington’s Camden Passage and in 1976 Brian left his job working for Total Oil and took on running the shop full-time, allowing Derek more time to concentrate on his Islington-based chartered accountancy practice.

Former factory

At that time Camden Passage was one of the most exciting and busy antique centres in the country and continued to be so until the 1990s when the hike in rents made it impossible to trade profitably.

Dealing first in early English oak furniture, by 1990 their shop was dedicated to the Arts & Crafts movement from Pugin, Morris and Liberty to the Cotswold School of Gimson, Waals and Ambrose Heal.

In 1996 the business moved to a former hat factory in Southgate Road. The site on maps was shown as a ‘Millinery Works’ so the business became The Antique Trader at The Millinery Works.

In addition to the extensive stock, The Millinery Works is well known for its selling exhibitions of contemporary artists interspersed with exhibitions on a particular aspect of the Arts & Crafts Movement.

Brian was an avid reader and built up a massive knowledge of his subject and was a natural charmer when describing, often with his particular wit and understanding, the objects of a potential sale to one of the many customers who treasure the existence of The Millinery Works.

Brian had valiantly fought cancer and was showing every sign of a complete recovery facilitated by our amazing NHS when he suffered a fatal and unexpected heart attack.