The latest blow to hit antiques dealers in Portobello Road has left them looking for the secure parking needed to run their businesses.
Until late last year, an agreement
with the Portobello Antique Dealers' Association (PADA) meant that
about 60 dealers were able to rent parking spaces at Colville
Primary School very close to the main area of galleries and
When the school decided to build new
reception classes the dealers had to find new parking spaces for
the first time in about 25 years, and are now around 500m further
north, at the Isaac Newton Centre for Continuing Professional
Development in Lancaster Road.
But even that space is in doubt - it
seems that Kensington & Chelsea council (RBKC) say it could be
redeveloped and have confirmed it is not earmarked for commercial
PADA chairman Costas Kleanthous said:
"It is on the list of properties to dispose - certainly the car
park is, and maybe the whole site - so it is not a long-term
Carrying stock to and from shops has
become a big problem, especially for jewellery dealers. Mr
Kleanthous said two or three dealers are thought to have decided to
quit as a result.
One long-standing family of Portobello
dealers has certainly been affected. Marion Gettleson, who set up
the Save the Portobello Road Market campaign on Facebook, has run a
shop for many years, with her brother Peter Delehar, offering
scientific instruments, while her sisters Valerie Jackson-Harris
and Flora Offord sold extensive stocks of ephemera and vintage
costume jewellery respectively.
But now, for different medical
reasons, Marion's brother and sisters are unable to make the longer
walk to the car and have decided to retire, although Marion says
she will continue trading on Saturdays, and is still very upbeat
about the area.
"On Saturdays it is still an exciting
place and the entire world turns up," she said. "Our family moved
their business to Portobello in the late 1950s and we have been
there ever since. I want to continue trading for as long as
possible - I love it."
Valerie will still go to specialist
book and ephemera fairs and continue as chairman of the Ephemera
Their parents, Mark (Michael) and Leah
Harris, started the family firm in 1919 and Mrs Harris's mother was
a dealer in London before the First World War.
RBKC said that the council were
looking at options for the Isaac Newton Centre site, one of which
is redevelopment. The current licence agreement allows traders to
park there at weekends, but the council have no obligation to
provide parking if that agreement ends, they said. "Commercial
parking is not a use we would look to re-provide on this
CCTV is also an issue. Dealers want it
improved after a spate of robberies, but there has been little
progress. The council say there is already CCTV in and around the
Portobello Road, although it doesn't cover the whole area used by
"The council will be seeking to adjust
the positioning of some cameras to make sure that they do give a
good view of crime hotspots and we will be looking very carefully
at Portobello Road in this respect," said RBKC.
• Meanwhile, four men appeared before
Westminster Magistrates' Court on February 25 charged with
conspiracy to commit robbery. Their arrest on February 23, and
subsequent charge, follows an investigation by the Metropolitan
Police Service's London Crime Squad into a series of high-value
robberies targeting jewellers and antiques dealers around
Those charged are: Adam Stefanowicz,
28, Jan Kowal, 51, and Ireneuusz Szawkalo, 45, all of Amhurst Park,
London N16, and Mirusz Golait, 39, of no fixed address. All four
men were remanded in custody to next appear before Southwark Crown
Court for a plea, case and management hearing on May 1.