IACF Ardingly which celebrated 50 years since its first event.

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Last year was an even busier 12 months than usual in this column, particularly for new fairs – here in chronological order are some of the highlights, which also include markets and antiques centres.


New Broom sweeps in

Philip and Claire Crosthwaite, who run Hingham Antiques Fairs in Norfolk, threw themselves into a new venture. They launched the Norfolk and Suffolk Antique Dealers Association (NASADA) which held its first fair in January at the Barnham Broom Hotel, near Norwich.

Busy year for IACF

IACF has had a busy year. In April the organiser celebrated 50 years of IACF Ardingly, pictured top, run at the South of England Showground in mid-Sussex and launched by fairs doyenne Caroline Penman in 1972.

IACF acquired the long-running biannual Peterborough Festival of Antiques from Simon Evans Fairs with exhibitors topping 2000 at the September event. In December the organiser announced that from 2020 IACF Shepton Mallet will be streamlined to a two-day event held on Friday and Saturday, with Sunday trading dropped.

Flat but flourishing

Continuity Fairs zoned in on Bath Racecourse, launching a new biannual antiques, home and vintage fair in April at the UK’s highest flat racecourse.

This adds to its five-fairs portfolio in Builth Wells, Anglesey, Epsom, Exeter and Harrogate.

Jaguar takes another bite

In June Jaguar Fairs launched a new biannual two-day antiques and vintage fair at the Derby Conference Centre.

This is a return to the city for the organiser, which had previously run fairs at the Roundhouse as well as the University of Derby.

Beale appeal


Stone sculpture in Beale Park where a new salvage show has been launched for 2020 by Swallow Fairs.

Architectural salvage remains high on dealers’ and collectors’ wish lists and Arthur Swallow Fairs added to its portfolio of busy home and salvage shows at three venues with a fourth at the Welland Showground near Malvern in June.

However, as a stop-press update on January 7, the Welland fair will be replaced this year with a new salvage show in June at Beale Park, on the River Thames, near Reading in Berkshire. More on this in a future issue.

It takes two

Many fairs organisers are blessed with waiting lists, including Stephanie Castell and Ben Cooper, directors of Two Cs Antiques Fairs, who added the two-day annual Burford Antiques Fair in Oxfordshire in July to its portfolio. Two Cs also confirmed in December that it is taking over the biannual Kensington Ceramics and Glass Fairs.

House call in Cornwall

Antiques dealers Ralph Retallack and Nicola Fuller held their first Antiques and Decorative Fair at Enys

House in Cornwall in September near St Ives. The house is only open for special events including an annual art fair in May. Retallack said: “For some time we have felt there was a gap in the market for a quality fair of this type in Cornwall and, like so many others, fell in love with the venue the first time we visited.”

South London calling

Vintage and retro is a winning combination for Alison Davis and Alan Old of So Last CenturyVintage and Retro Fairs, who kicked off September with a third fair in south London at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon to add to their events in Beckenham and Catford.

Chelsea challenge

Jane Alexander of Dovehouse Antiques Fairs in Dorking is hitting the big city this year – she announced last September that she is taking over the Little Chelsea Fair formerly run by silver dealer Daniel Cotton. The first of the two-day Dovehouse Little Chelsea Antique Fairs with 60-plus stallholders takes place at the refurbished Chelsea Town Hall at the beginning of March.

Book fair booms

In September, the PBFA’sYork Book Fair was at bursting point with a capacity 220 exhibitors – proof that old and not-so-old books are never out of fashion.

Fresh fair in the frame


A photo of an Anglo- Indian group from the Bristol Vintage Photo Fair.

A Bath antiquarian book dealer started his own specialist event. At the beginning of December Hugh Rayner launched the Bristol Vintage Photograph Fair at an ideal location, the Royal Photographic Society’s HQ in the city. This Anglo-Indian group photograph shown bottom is from Rayner’s own archive and was used to promote the event. The fair’s success has led to two dates this year, in April and November.

Belfast event born

It’s congratulations to dealers Gallagher and Garth Arnold who launched the high-end Belfast Titanic Antiques and Fine Art Fair at the beginning of December at the city’s Titanic Hotel. Held in the fine former drawing offices of Harland & Wolff, which built the doomed liner, positive feedback has ensured two confirmed fair dates this year.

Attic expansion

Just before Christmas Grandma’s Attic Fairs announced that it is taking over Emmott Promotions, which has run antiques and collectors’ fairs in Chichester, Midhurst and Fareham since the 1970s.


Not a day of rest

“It seemed that the world and his wife and most of Surrey came to our inaugural Sunday fair,” said Edward Cruttenden of Sunbury Antiques on the first of his two annual Sunday antiques markets which was held at Sandown Park Racecourse on June 2. More Sunday market slots are planned for this year.

Word on the street

ACVR Events has slowly been adding to its antiques street markets in Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex which began in Romsey four years ago. Two more were started in Hampshire last year: at Alresford and on the waterfront at Hamble-le- Rice, near Southampton.

Collins hands over the reins

Mike Collins, the dynamic organiser of three London antiques markets, announced that he is giving up the running of one of these: the Friday Bermondsey market which he took over in 2013. However, the event will continue: he plans to hand the running to the traders who stall out there.

Antiques centres

Head to Hemswell


A detail of Christine and Andrew Towle’s unit at Hemswell.

Christine and Andrew Towle, who traded as Eras of Style from a disused Victorian station in East Sussex, gave up their shop in favour of units at Hemswell Antique Centres, 200 miles away in Lincolnshire (one unit pictured above). Andrew said: “Foreign trade weren’t doing the miles at the shop and tended to stick to the fairs. Hemswell MD Robert Miller has made the centres a very good trade call with the four buildings there.

“Foreign trade visit while buying at IACF Newark and Arthur Swallow Fairs at Lincoln and there are plenty of good private buyers and interior decorators.”

Independence movement

A dealer who is so passionate about the survival of independent shops that he opened his own antiques centre is Jon White, who launched Old Bank Antiques in Royal Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire in December. He said: “If our high street is to survive we need to offer the many visitors to the town a diverse range of independent shops and businesses.”

Northern exposure

Also in December Sharon Jackson and her daughter Jessica opened Vintage North, an antiques centre in a former restaurant in Brampton, near Carlisle in Cumbria, close to Hadrian’s Wall.

Hit the antiques trail


The group of antiques dealers involved in the Ashburton Antiques Trail.

At the beginning of last year a small town on the edge of Dartmoor launched an antiques trail to promote all its 11 antiques shops. Pictured above are some of the antiques dealers involved in the Ashburton Antiques Trail. The publicity and business generated has encouraged more shops to open and one existing business to move into larger premises.