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Founded 20 years ago, the Bath association has been among the most active of the many trade associations which have proliferated since the Cotswolds dealers formed the first in 1978.

At that time the Bath area was a rich vein of dealing, but in recent years, as the whole national trade has declined, membership of BABAADA has fallen off.

Members, and other West Country dealers, have been discussing the formation of a single association for the West Country for a couple of years and when BABAADA chairman Alex Shlesinger invited his members to vote on their future they decided unanimously to close their association and throw their weight behind the new one.

The West of England Antique Dealers Association (WEADA) will officially launch on Wednesday, March 28 at a party at Pennard House Antiques, East Pennard, Shepton Mallet, Somerset BA4 6TP, the premises of dealer Martin Dearden. Pennard House will also be the WEADA office.

It is confidently expected that 100 members will be signed up by the time of the party. By last week 70 had already done so.

The membership is drawn from Tetbury in the north of the region down to Cornwall and across to Salisbury.

Initial recruitment is by invitation only, with well-known BABAADA dealer Gail McLeod, a committee member for 15 years, touring the West Country drumming up support. A working membership list will be available in a couple of weeks.

The association is currently limited to antiques dealers. Art dealers and associated professionals like shippers will eventually be accommodated separately.

County representatives have been appointed to form a committee to liaise with members. A regional spokesman, Sherborne dealer Patrick Macintosh, will liaise with other associations and the press. The county representatives are Mark David for Devon, Frances Bryant for Dorset, David March for Gloucestershire, Martin Dearden for Somerset, Michael Oxley for Wiltshire and Mark Royce for Cornwall.

Gail McLeod told ATG: “There is always a sadness at the passing of a great institution like BABAADA, but the majority of the membership has moved to WEADA, which is a new style of association to represent the region with vigour and energy and raise the profile of a splendid antiques buying region.”

Until the official launch, information is best available from Gail McLeod, mobile 07915 606118.

By David Moss