An antiques warehouse has been on the Tower Bridge Road site for more than 20 years, and for eight years has been the home to The Old Cinema. Under Martin Hanness, the business (which includes over 50 dealers) has acquired a reputation as one of the capital’s best furniture emporiums.
Mr Hanness told the Antiques Trade Gazette that the resident dealers (who have been kept informed of the developments as they arose) will try to move together, probably looking for premises with more attractive rents and better access to the M25 to the north of London.
“I have to find a location that would appeal to the buying public in general as well as the trade,” he said, explaining that the move north of London would suit the majority of the dealers at The Old Cinema, who come from Essex, Suffolk, Hertfordshire and other points north.
The closure of the warehouse will not be immediate but a decision on a date to leave is expected by the end of the year. However, the move will need careful planning and Mr Hanness, who needs at least a 50,000 sq ft space, is already looking for a new venue and would welcome suggestions.
The owners of the building in Bermondsey, Graham Townsend and John Champ, recently invested heavily in the site but have since been made and accepted an attractive offer for what is now prime residential development space.
Standholders at Bermondsey’s Friday market will not welcome the news.
It is a telling fact that when the Old Cinema moved to the area in 1992 there were 22 antiques warehouses in Bermondsey, soon there will be only four.
Mr Hanness believes that Bermondsey’s growing attraction as a fashionable place to live “probably spells the end of the antiques trade for the serious buyer there” as dealers are forced out, adding that it would prove increasingly difficult for those remaining to pull in overseas buyers.
The Old Cinema will maintain a presence in Central London with its premises in Chiswick.
Anyone who thinks they may be able to help Mr Hanness in his quest for a new location can contact him on 020 8995 4166 or 020 7407 5371.