Marks Tinsley, left, and Harry Scott who are launching a weekly antiques fair in Gainsborough, pictured at their unit in the Astra Antiques Centre at Hemswell.

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It is a 30-minute drive from two big fairs, those run by Swallow Fairs at the Lincoln Showground and IACF at the Newark and Nottinghamshire Showground.

Home to two well-known antiques centres in nearby Hemswell Cliff, Hemswell Antique Centres, the largest in Europe, and Astra Antiques Centre, the town has a few antique shops but what it doesn’t have is a dedicated fair.

Until now - thanks to dealers at the Astra premises.

‘Perfectly sited’

Decorative art dealers Marks Tinsley and Harry Scott, who have had a unit at Astra Antiques for the past three years, felt that the town’s “historic and attractive market square was under-used”.

After two years of negotiations with the local council, Gainsborough’s first weekly fair will launch on Saturday, March 30, under the banner of MH Antiques and Fairs and will run alongside the town’s Saturday weekly market.

The event will have up to 100 stands selling antiques and collectables and is to be held on the market square and adjacent streets.

Scott said: “Our fair is perfectly sited to be part of the east Midlands antiques hub including the two big showground fairs and other antiques locations.”

Astra expansion

Barry Aucott launched the Astra Antiques Centre 20 years ago with just 30 dealers; now it has has close to 200. The business is doing very well, said Aucott, “with turnover rising year on year since the pandemic. We’ve added a reclamation yard that’s also doing well and are working on our new auction house venture which we hope to open later this year.

“This will be a trade warehouse selling furniture as well as a large indoor multi-use area including a general saleroom and indoor section for our four annual outdoor fairs which run at the centre.”

Hemswell on the up

There must be something in the water in the area: in December last year Hemswell Antique Centres also revealed ambitious plans to expand after one of its strongest trading years ever.

Pilgrims progress


Michael Wallis of Pilgrims Antiques Centre.

Michael Wallis is now the sole owner of Pilgrims Antiques Centre, in Gainsborough, established 40 years ago. Its packed stock includes a goodly range of silhouettes and portrait miniatures.

Wallis, pictured above in the shop, said: “There were originally three of us, Judy Keane, Michael Fotheringham and myself. Sadly, the other two have died so it is now just myself. There used to be eight dealers here but now it’s just myself.“

He added: “The shop is very busy with regular trade buyers and I am constantly restocking jewellery, portraits, silhouettes and curiosities.”