After more than 60 years of being operated by Southwark Council, Bermondsey Antiques Market has received a shot in the arm with the news that the famous Friday market in Bermondsey Square will be run by specialist antiques market operators Sherman & Waterman.
They have been given a two-year licence,
effective from March 1, following a tendering process.
Barrie Hargrove, cabinet member for markets
and street trading at Southwark Council, gave the announcement that
Sherman & Waterman had been successful.
"This is a new opportunity to develop this
historic market back to its former glory and I wish them success in
building up the market over the next two years," he said.
Operated under their street markets umbrella
by Southwark Council since 1949/50, the antiques market has been in
slow decline for years. It never really recovered from the three
years from 2008-11, when the traders were bumped around the square
in temporary accommodation during redevelopment works by property
developers Igloo, who own and manage the square on which Southwark
have a long-lease agreement for the Friday market.
But now the future of the market looks
The market itself been in the square since
1948 and is famed as a dealers' haunt particularly for silver, with
its pre-dawn opening seeing dealers peering at the glistening
Georgian silver by torchlight and where the marché
ouvert (when stolen goods could be legitimately sold
there, remarkably) was only taken off the statute books in
London-based Sherman & Waterman launched
in 1974 with three partners - Cyril Waterman, Anthony Sherman and
Michael Collins - focusing their attentions on antiques and
speciality markets from the outset. In 1976 the firm established
the weekly Covent Garden Antiques Market under licence from the now
defunct GLC; in 1985 they developed both the Stratford-on-Avon and
York antiques centres - now solely Stratford-on-Avon - and in 2004
launched the weekly antiques and collectors' market at Old
Spitalfields Market Hall.
Michael is the dynamic hands-on organiser
who runs the Covent Garden and Spitalfields markets. He told me:
"We're delighted to be given the opportunity to operate the
renowned Friday Bermondsey antiques market. Stewardship comes with
an inordinate responsibility which we embrace unreservedly and hope
that during our tenure the regeneration programme we envisage will
restore Bermondsey as one of London's premier antique markets.
"We sincerely hope we can do justice to the
legacy that is the Friday antiques market and look forward to the
From left to right: Cyril Waterman of
Sherman & Waterman; Joan Bygrave, chairman of the Bermondsey
Antique Market Traders Association; John McHenry, Southwark
Council's markets and streets trading manager; Graham Jarvis,
secretary BAMTA; Mike Collins of Sherman & Waterman; Alan Joyce
and David Addlestone, both long-term members of BAMTA.
Two people who are thrilled by the news are
jewellery dealer Joan Bygrave, chairman of the Bermondsey Antique
Market Traders Association - which will now disband as it acted as
a link between the traders and the council - and silver
dealer Graham Jarvis, secretary to the association.
Their passion for the market has never
wavered down through the difficult years, along with the other
traders in the association.
Joan said: "We're very hopeful that the
market will leap ahead. Mike has already had flyers printed; he has
his finger on the pulse and certainly knows what he wants."
Graham added: "The traders are delighted
that the council have awarded this contract to Sherman &
Waterman, who themselves have a strong following with the umbrella
of markets they currently run and will add a much-needed new and
positive dimension and in time create a more vibrant Friday London
Challenges there certainly will be, not
least attracting dealers of, say, vintage fashion and books to
stand in a square which is open to the elements. It's fair to say,
without leaning towards a glass-half-empty view, that there has
been near-zero investment in the market which at its height fielded
250 stalls. Now out of a possible 150 stalls at the Friday market
there are maybe 40.
But Bermondsey is heaving with media and
fashion types, plush apartments, gastropubs, and achingly trendy
wine bars, and the market could be a magnet for these folk if it's
anything like Spitalfields market or - a slightly different buyer
profile - the thousands of tourists who flock to Covent Garden.
• The "under new management" sign for the Bermondsey Antiques
Market goes up from Friday, March 1. Hours are 5am-3pm with trade
set-up from 5-7am. Contact Mike Collins on 07903919029 or email him