THE art and antiques trade survived largely unscathed from the widespread riots seen in England last week. However, many businesses across the country were forced to close...
As the rioting started in London and spread out to other towns
and cities on August 8 and 9, a number of dealers, antiques centres
and auction houses came close to some of the worst violence, but
fortunately there have been few reports that they were hit
A gang of around 20 looters however smashed the front of Kings
Road dealers Gutlins Clocks and Antiques in the early hours of
Monday morning, helping themselves to watches and small clocks.
Owner John Coxhead estimated the cost of the thefts and damage at
Seven or eight police vans were at the scene in under five
minutes. The gang ran off with some of them climbing onto the roofs
of nearby premises. Police made five arrests at the scene and two
Those arrested on suspicion of burglary are all aged between 25
With concerns in the Capital about police being unable to handle
large numbers of rioting gangs, sellers of high value goods did
what they could to increase security on their doors and, in some
cases, had windows boarded up.
There were attacks and damage at the North end of Portobello
Road, as well as on nearby Ledbury Road and Westbourne Grove, but
the art and antiques shops in the area remained unaffected despite
some alarmist reports on the internet.
The West End and Mayfair also largely escaped the brunt of the
rioting, although a group of some 50 youths gathered in Oxford
Circus and threw objects at shops on Sunday, August 7.
With riot police patrolling the area throughout the following
day, most firms closed early on Monday afternoon, including Grays
antiques centre, which is located just off Oxford Street, while
Bond Street gallery The Fine Art Society cancelled the private view
for the opening their latest group exhibition due to be held the
Outside London in the borough of Elmbridge in Surrey, some
jewellers and antiques dealers removed stock from their premises
and took valuable items out of their front windows after rumours
circulated about impending riots. However, Surrey Police did not
ask businesses to close and asked the public and social networking
sites not to raise unnecessary fears.
Neighbourhood police patrols said afterwards there had been no
In Birmingham, police were advising retailers in the Jewellery
quarter to close following a Blackberry group message asking
rioters to assemble at 3pm last Tuesday. The area is home to over
100 specialist jewellery sellers and most shut their premises early
that day, including auctioneers Fellows.
In the event, a few shops in the quarter had windows smashed but
there were no reports of any actually being broken into as the main
focus of the riots centred on brand-name shops and electrical
suppliers in Birmingham city centre.
It was a similar story in Manchester and Salford where there
were attacks on fashion boutiques and shopping centres, including
Miss Selfridge in Manchester's Market Street which was set alight.
Auctioneers Capes Dunn are based in the city centre but the main
incidents were further to the North.