Three new high street antiques and interiors businesses look set for a promising future. Two are in Long Melford in Suffolk and the third has opened in the Dorset town of Dorchester.
In its heyday Long Melford hosted 20 antiques businesses, particularly during the spin-off from the Lovejoy years.
Filming of the hugely successful television series shown between 1986-92 about a roguish antiques dealer, played with full charisma by Ian McShane, focused on the historic Suffolk town.
When the economy took a dive and business rates and overheads soared, the numbers of antiques businesses in Long Melford were much diminished.
The 100-dealer Melford Antiques Warehouse suddenly closed last September after 25 years of trading.
But new life and a new name has been given to the premises by antiques dealer Graham Hessell, who will reopen the Grade II-listed former granary at Easter as the Melford Antiques, Interiors and Lifestyle Centre.
Hessell, a trader at the former warehouse since 1995, who owns an antiques and interiors business in Suffolk, said: “We have been able to come to terms that will enable the premises to be renovated and restored and to carry out a full refurbishment and redecoration.
“Since taking over the management of the site, 25 dealers have already reserved space. These include Guy Chevenix-Trench of Antiques by Design, Jane Short Antiques, Tim Wharton Antiques and Earl Webber Antiques.”
Spread over four floors will be approximately 88 individual areas, Hessell added, and with many dealers taking double units he envisages some 60-120 vetted traders when the centre is fully operative.
The ground floor will be dedicated to datelined antique furniture and related items from the 17th century to the early 20th century while the upper floors include a mix of retro furniture, homewares, vintage fashion plus an artists’ studio. Prices for individual units start at £150 per month up to £575 with the majority of the furniture units being around £295 per month.
“I am determined to see this business restored as a key destination in Long Melford,” Hessell said. “It’s a very exciting project not only for me but for all the dealers who want to participate plus local businesses including the several other antiques centres.”
Contact Hessell via email@example.com
Patrick Interiors and Exteriors
Patrick Scholz, another long-term trader at the now-closed Melford Antiques Warehouse, is relishing the opportunity to start a new chapter following the launch early this month of his own antiques centre in Long Melford.
This has 30 dealers including a number from the antiques warehouse, selling antiques and collectables.
Scholz, pictured above outside his new shop, said: “It’s been challenging but we are really pleased that we have found our own ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ nestled in the heart of Long Melford.”
Long Melford antiques and Vintage Fair
The two-day Long Melford Antiques and Vintage Fair run by Lauré Bonner and Pearl Gee is held monthly at The Old School in the Suffolk town.
The next is on Saturday and Sunday, March 28-29. See Facebook for more details.
Meanwhile, celebrating its 28th year in April is the datelined mid-week monthly antiques fair in Long Melford run by Graham Turner Antiques Fairs with the next on Wednesday, April 1, at the memorial hall.
Contact 01379 897266.
Dorchester: The Curiosity Centre
Eight years ago dealer Martin Green opened The Curiosity Centre, an antiques centre in a former bus depot on a trading estate in Dorchester.
Now he is taking on an extra challenge with the launch of an antiques and interiors shop in a Grade II-listed building in the heritage area of the town.
Green said: “My decision to open the shop stemmed from a desire to showcase beautiful things in an equally beautiful setting. I’m also passionate about the preservation of local communities and economies.
“As everyone knows, high streets, particularly in market towns like Dorchester, are really suffering and I wanted to do my part in re-energising my local one. Yes, it’s a risk, but one I feel happy to take.”
The warehouse space at the antiques centre offers 60 traders selling “everything and anything from vinyl through to vintage hats and old tools,” said Green. “Four appearances on the Antiques Road Trip, thousands of collectables and one vintage dodgem car through the doors has seen this business thrive.”