WHILE children celebrated as schools shut down across the country, the reaction of the art and antiques trade to the heavy snow that swept over Britain last week was largely less exuberant.
A number of auctions in England were cancelled as a result of weather conditions unseen for a decade. Sales from Yorkshire and County Durham in the North to Surrey and West Sussex in the South have had to be rescheduled.
The industry is now hoping that further snow forecast for this coming week will not lead to any more disruption to the sales calendar.
However, business carried on unaffected for many and one auction house in the provinces - Duke's of Dorchester - even said that their sale was better attended as buyers hoped to grab a bargain thinking their rivals would not be able to attend.
The heaviest fall of snow in the South of England for 18 years meant that some buyers were unable to make the viewings of the London flagship sales of Impressionist and Modern art at Sotheby's and Christie's last Monday. But as the snow melted over the course of the week, the auctions went ahead without any noticeable effect.
However, dealers exhibiting at the Watercolours & Drawings Fair, which opened in Covent Garden on February 4, did report fewer visitors, citing the snow as a factor. The Newark fair in Nottinghamshire which opened the day after was also hit by the snow. Those travelling on the M1 faced long delays, while outside stalls at the event had to be abandonned.
In the North and the West, a number of salerooms said they were determined to press ahead after being hit by a second fall of snow in the latter part of the week.
Despite waking up to 8in (20cm) of snow on February 5 - the biggest fall in the country that day - the majority of staff at Cirencester's Moore Allen & Innocent made it into work, one of whom told ATG: "We're made of hardy stuff in Gloucestershire."
They were not anticipating having to reschedule their sporting sale due to take place the following day, although they had considered delaying the start because of the hazardous conditions on the roads.
After more snow falling on the morning of the sale itself, Moore Allen auctioneer Philip Allwood said: "A few people have made it in, but we have plenty of commissions and telephone bids - enough for the auction to work."
They even decided to raise the estimate on a 1950s wooden sledge from £50-80 to £80-120 after it generated extra interest at the viewing. It finally was knocked down at £90.
In Scotland, McTears auctioneers said they were going ahead with their sale on February 5, although forecasters were warning of more heavy downfalls. Flights at nearby Glasgow airport had been cancelled through the week, but the saleroom reported that the snow had largely receded by Thursday.
Other changes resulting from adverse weather conditions last week include the following:
• T. Vennett Smith, of Gotham Nottinghamshire (0115 983 0541) postponed their February 3 sale of beer labels, ephemera and postcards until the 10th and their February 4 sale of cigarette and trade cards & matchboxes until the 11th.
• John Nicholsons of Fernhurst, West Sussex, (01428 653727) have postponed their fine art sale of February 18-19 until the 25th and 26th.
• ELR Auctions of Sheffield, (0114 281 6161) have rescheduled their February 6 sale for the 13th.
• Holloways of Banbury (01295 817777) have cancelled their February 10 general sale. Their next sale will be the general sale scheduled for February 24.
• Addisons of Barnard Castle, County Durham (01833 690545) have postponed their sale by two weeks to Saturday, March 14.
Forecasts were coming through of more bad weather for this week, so those wishing to attend auctions should check with the auction house that sales are going ahead as planned before travelling.
By Alex Capon