Hilary Proctor

Hilary Proctor in her new venture in Admiral Vernon on Portobello Road.

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The area suffered during the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns with some dealers ceasing trading. But the street is again thronging with visitors.

Dealer Hilary Proctor said the Easter period had been a boon for traders. She said: “We had pre-Covid numbers of people coming through Portobello Road and businesses are reporting huge improvements.

“There is definitely a fresh buzz in the air and huge numbers of tourists are making Portobello a place where they must visit while in London. I have noticed a large increase in American tourists and visitors from Singapore and Hong Kong which is wonderful as they are serious buyers.”

Proctor added: “Even though Por tobel lo is traditionally known as a Saturday market many people are coming on other days. Sundays seem almost as popular as Saturdays and there are antiques traders open every day in various antiques galleries throughout the road.”

Proctor has been a dealer of vintage fashion in Portobello Road for the past 40 years and recently launched a vintage fashion collective downstairs at the Admiral Vernon Antiques Centre called Underground at Admiral Vernon (ATG No 2525).

Community spirit

Proctor added: “My father started in Portobello in 1949 so we have been connected to the road for generations. I am passionate about helping to preserve it and its continued success for generations to come. It is a village-like community; many have been trading in Portobello man and boy.”

Dealer Paul Dwyer, who closed his unit during 2020, is among those who have decided to return. The Chinese silver specialist, trading as Hop Garden, is back at the Chelsea Galleries and will open a second space opposite his unit next month.

He said: “I am doubling my capacity as I believe in the area. I am hopeful of the return of Chinese buyers. I am certain they will come back and I am there ready. I am sparking a Portobello revival!”

Lee Clifford of Portobello Group, who manages many of the arcades and stalls on the street, said: “After two years of trials and tribulations, from the lockdown to the floods, it is great to see people back. The world needs a jump-start. It was great to see the many Spanish, Italian and even American visitors.”

Clifford said that many traders went out of business during the lockdown but some have returned and there has been an increase in enquiries to rent stalls and units.

Following the success of Proctor’s Underground at Admiral Vernon, the arcade is beginning to open on a Sunday inside (downstairs). This is a change from tradition when the forecourt always traded on a Sunday but inside had not.

The increase in visitors has meant some antiques dealers are trading Thursday-Sunday – an increase on the Friday- Saturday of the past.

Proctor added: “Admiral Vernon opens at 5am and is buzzing with dealers searching for items for grand shops around the country and worldwide. But for those not so keen on 5am forays there is still plenty to tempt the curious throughout the market and throughout the day.”