Gallery Rafael was set up by dealer Willy Stewart, who was among the dealers at Portobello Road’s Gallery 91, which closed over the summer.
“Many people are very worried about the way Portobello is going, but Westbourne Grove is turning back to antiques,” Stewart told ATG. A dealer in the area for around 30 years, he feared the area is “rapidly losing its atmosphere”.
Although there are still a few hundred dealers who sell in the area, many taking stalls on Saturday mornings, the dominance of antiques shops and stalls in the neighbourhood began to drop in the first half of the 1990s. From 100 antique arcades in the street 50 years ago, it now has a fraction of this and has instead attracted fashion and souvenir retailers.
Costas Kleanthous, a local dealer and chairman of Portobello Antiques Dealers Association, said: “It has been more than a decade since a new antiques shop opened in this area. It is a refreshing change and we welcome news that this antiques centre has opened its doors.
"In light of the many closures in recent years following the conversion of a number of arcades to other retail premises, this is much needed good news and we are delighted.”
The Westbourne Grove premises were formerly a ladies’ fashion shop. Six dealers have moved in so far with space for a total of nine. It opens from 5am-4pm on Saturdays. Stewart says that with much of the business coming from trade buyers, it has been consistently busy so far.
“People are saying that buyers don’t go down there anymore, but all my customers have found me so far,” Stewart added. “We’re bringing Westbourne Grove back to life – watch this space.”