After a wait of nearly two and a half years there were scenes of jubilation at IACF’s return in September with its annual antiques and collectors’ fair at Alexandra Palace, billed as ‘Antiques in the Heart of London’.
However, it was to be the last at the important north London venue for International Antiques & Collectors’ Fairs – which announced at the end of November that after nine years it is dropping the fair from its portfolio.
This brings to an end a 40-year run of antiques fairs at Ally Pally and leaves just one large regular antiques fair held in London.
Will Thomas, managing director of IACF, said: “We are sad that we are no longer running fairs at Alexandra Palace as it has been such a prestigious venue for us.
“Because of the popularity of this location, which hosts international darts championships and music events, the rental costs have become unviable for us to continue here.
“IACF would like to thank our loyal visitors and stallholders who have attended Ally Pally over the years.”
Back in 2014 when IACF acquired the fair, Keith Harris, then chairman of IACF, said the acquisition was “the jewel of London events” and that “fairs rental at AP was not much cheaper than hiring Olympia”.
But in the spirit of ‘one door closing and another opening’, Thomas announced that IACF is launching a one-day Monday antiques fair at the Hertfordshire Showground in Redbourn.
This is close to the M1 – just 27 miles from Ally Pally – and will be held triannually, with the first of the Redbourn Antiques Fairs to run on Monday, April 24.
This one-day format is popular with trade and public alike and runs successfully as Runway Monday at the Newark Showground.
Thomas said: “We’re looking forward to setting up in an area where there is a lack of events like these and its proximity to the M1 will benefit stallholders and visitors alike.”
This is not a new location for IACF, in fact, which previously held fairs at the Hertfordshire Showground from 2011-12.
Talking about the end of IACF at Ally Pally, Paul Kelly, a previous organiser of Nelson Events which ran the fairs at the venue from 2008-14, said: “It’s sad to hear that IACF has stepped back from organising the great Alexandra Palace fair.
“The biggest regular event in London, this has been one of the best events I have ever been involved with.”
Maxine Stonehill, organiser of Pop Up Vintage Fairs, said: “We have enjoyed a wonderful working relationship with IACF over the last eight years, bringing in our Pop Up Vintage dealers as part of the highly successful and popular fairs at Ally Pally.”
Dealer Edwin Woodley, a regular stallholder at IACF Ally Pally, echoed his own regrets at the fair’s demise and probably spoke for many when he commented: “Ally Pally was a true icon of the antique fairs world and known worldwide among the trade – a great loss.”
Ally Pally timeline
• Lindy Berkman and Alan Kipping ran the antiques and collectors’ fair at Ally Pally under the Pig and Whistle Promotions’ banner from 1982-98.
• From 1988-2006 Berkman ran the Ally Pally fair herself still under the Pig and Whistle name. Exhibitor numbers peaked at 750 during this period, with long waiting lists.
• In 2006, after 25 years, Berkman called time on the fair citing “service provisions” issues at the venue.
• Newmarket-based Nelson Events stepped up as new organiser in 2008 running the fair until 2014 when IACF, the largest fair operator in Europe, stepped in.