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The move was prompted by the impending end to Mallams' lease on its West Way rooms, which would have meant a move to Messengers' Bicester territory.

“It didn't make sense to have two salerooms in the same place,” Ben Lloyd of Mallams told the Antiques Trade Gazette. “Now, by getting together, we have broadened our knowledge and client base.”

As Tim Messenger confirmed, the merger has also widened the firm's catchment area, with influence now spreading from the Chilterns, through the Cotswolds to the Thames Valley.

In addition, the merged company will benefit from a showroom that fronts on to a main shopping street.

The Pevensey House saleroom in Bicester is being refurbished in preparation for a series of large, old-fashioned general sales every three weeks, starting on February 28. The firm could well develop specialist sales in future but will wait to see how business progresses before making any commitment to them. Tim Messenger remains as senior valuer, with Clive Turner as saleroom manager.