The Yorkshire Fleabag

Helen Bowman outside the shop she has opened with husband Ben Wray in Shipley, West Yorkshire.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Readers of this column will be familiar with the names of Helen Bowman and Ben Wray, formerly of Bowman Fairs, organisers for decades of events at the Staffordshire Showground as well as in Harrogate.

Some readers may also be customers at the couple’s Yorkshire Fleas which Bowman and Wray started in 2017 at Thirsk and Skipton auction marts and which are still going strong.

But fewer may know that the couple have now launched their own shop in Shipley. The Yorkshire Fleabag, which makes a nice link to the fleamarkets, opened on June 23.

“The launch of the fleas bricks and mortar operation went very well”, said Bowman. “We had a steady stream of locals, trade buyers and colleagues in the trade and sold well.”


Two happy customers with their contemporary screenprint purchased at the shop’s launch last month.

She added: “We have owned this building since we ran the antiques fairs and it is in a row of shops overlooking the UNESCO World Heritage Centre at Saltaire. Owning a shop is full circle for me as my mum [the late Elizabeth Bowman, founder of Bowman Fairs] owned an antiques shop in Otley and I would be sitting about in the shop after school.”

With Bradford confirmed as the UK City of Culture 2025 and with 20 antique shops in a 10-mile radius, The Yorkshire Fleabag looks set to be jumping. The shop is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Wray said: “We’ve an interesting selection of antiques and vintage including an extensive selection of vintage magazines from every decade of the 20th century, pictures, prints and paintings.”

The next one-day fleamarket at Skipton Auction Mart is on Sunday, July 24.

Call Bowman on 07889 828288 for more information.