Woburn Antiques Centre, at the heart of the Woburn Abbey Estate in Bedfordshire, is to close on September 1.
General manager Jonathan Irby, who made the
shock announcement last week, cited a period of difficult trading
conditions resulting in the centre no longer being a viable
The announcement came as a complete surprise
to the centre's 60 dealers, all BADA or LAPADA members, including
John Bly, who were advised of the closure at a meeting with Mr Irby
on Thursday, June 20, and in a subsequent letter.
The dealers have just over two months to
find new homes.
The centre's history goes back 45 years to
when it was opened in 1967 by the wife of the 5th Duke of Bedford
and Anna Maggs of Yew Tree Antiques, whose sole outlet is still at
the Woburn Antiques Centre where she sells decorative antiques and
antique maps and prints.
"I have had a shop at the centre for 23
years and none of us were expecting this," she told ATG. "There was
no prior discussion.
"We have had some lean years at the centre;
three years ago there were only 14 dealers here. But we have such a
good following at the centre and a number of us are looking for
alternative space together."
Mr Irby added: "Woburn Abbey has always been
proud of the centre and the dealers within it. We are keeping the
centre open until September 1 to provide time for dealers to find
new premises and ensure they are able to take advantage of the
visitor numbers over the summer period. At this stage there are no
plans for the building."
John Bly, who has two shops at the centre,
told ATG: "It's a great shame about the closure if they can't
afford to run it, but there are considerable costs in keeping the
centre open in the winter when the park is closed. Also the centre
needed exposure through massive advertising campaigns and that was
Midas Fairs' antiques fair in Woburn Abbey's Sculpture Gallery
on November 23-24 is not affected by the closure.