THE massive antiques and collectors’ fair held six times a year at RAF Swinderby since 1995 is to move to the Lincoln Showground for all future events.
Exhibitors and buyers at the August fair were told it would be the last at the disused airfield and were invited to rebook for the October 6-7 event at its new site ten miles away on the outskirts of Lincoln city.
The long-term future of the 3000-dealer Swinderby Antiques & Home Show has been uncertain since Cemex, the owners of the brownfield site, submitted development plans to Lincolnshire County Council in 2008. The approved proposals include the extraction of sand and gravel from under the runways and the erection of a ready-mixed concrete plant. Once works have been completed, the site will be restored to woodland, reed beds and lakes for nature conservation.
Richard Burgoin, director of Arthur Swallow Fairs whose father Peter started the fair 14 years ago as an ancillary event to the Newark International Antiques & Collectors' Fair, told ATG they could have continued at the disused airfield for perhaps another year.
But he said the move to Lincoln was as much about future planning as it was a reaction to Cemex's development plans.
In 2008, Lincolnshire Showground invested £7m into an eco-friendly exhibition building on the site - the award-winning EPIC Centre with three halls and 1836 square metres of space - and took steps to address the drainage issues that affected one corner of the 205-acre site. It was water-logging that blighted a rain-washed antiques and collectors' event held at the venue by Jaguar Fairs in November 2005.
Impressed by the new "all weather" facilities and its easy access from the A46 / A15 city ring road, Arthur Swallow Fairs have signed a long-term contract with the showground and have secured the fair's dates (the two days before the Newark fair) for the foreseeable future.
Richard Burgoin is currently engaged in a new standholder layout for the fair at its new location. While the Lincolnshire Showground is a smaller site than the expanses of RAF Swinderby, he hopes to mirror its gridiron formation with a compact layout that, whenever possible, reunites stallholders who have long requested space in close proximity.
Outside pitches will be on firm grassed areas linked with tarmac roads, while steps are being taken to ease the movement around the site of the outsize vehicles used by a number of the Continental exhibitors.
New additions include a restaurant and VIP lounge overlooking the showground, and a furniture hall.
By Roland Arkell