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Fran Foster of Centrex, the NEC’s organising arm, announced the new fair in May and says she immediately had a response from many regulars on the quality fairs circuit.

Centrex had organised a successful new year fair at the NEC on behalf of LAPADA since 1992, but the link with the antiques association was dissolved after this year’s staging.

Mrs Foster is locating the new event in The Forum, a dramatic NEC display space which was used in the early 1990s for the LAPADA fair and one which exhibitors always regretted leaving.

Many regulars at the January LAPADA fair seem keen to join the new event, but the number of exhibitors at the National Fine Art and Antiques Fair will be restricted to 100 and Mrs Foster has appointed an advisory committee to select a list of dealers from those who have applied.

Helen Linfield of the West Sussex firm Wakelin and Linfield; Worcestershire gallery owners Tony Haynes and John Noott, and Essex Oriental specialist Laura Bordignon are among the dealers on the committee. All are committed to the new fair.

Well-known dealers who will definitely show at Birmingham include Anthemion, Adams Antiques, Paul Hopwell, Derek and Tina Rayment, Shapiro and Nicholas Shaw.

It seems the new fair has the pick of the LAPADA members who did the LAPADA NEC fair, while also attracting quality dealers who have not joined, or have just left, our biggest association.

Mrs Foster promises scrupulous vetting at the new fair, to which admission will be £10.