As well as the disparate delights on the Isle of Wight of Osborne House, the holiday home of Queen Victoria and her family, a famed annual music festival and the largest sailing regatta in the world, there are dozens of antiques and vintage businesses dotted around the island.
As the latest tourism figures reveal that visitor spend to the island off the Hampshire mainland increased by 45% between April and June last year compared with 2019, including a doubling of visitors from the London area, some of that money will doubtless be diverted to the cash tills of the trade.
Here is a snapshot of just a few where this might well be the happy case.
Farm shows growth
Melodie Hicks bought Dores Hill Farm Emporium at Wootton Bridge, Ryde, in 2017 which she runs with her husband Rob.
The centre is spread out in farm buildings where between 25 and 30 dealers sell traditional antiques and vintage pieces. The ‘Potting Shed”, originally part of the farm piggery, offers architectural salvage as well as ironmongery tools including old tractor parts.
Hicks said: “The business is doing really well. We have a core clientele including many younger creative buyers who see the potential in everything as well as second-homers.
“We get plenty of trade here over from the mainland including London as prices here are not London prices. We have a refurbished Ercol Golden Dawn armchair here priced at £350 which would be £500 or more in London.”
Set beside Carisbrooke Castle at Froglands Farm on the island is The Cowshed, owned by Stewart Dungey and his family for 20 years.
It is crammed with antique furniture including fireplaces and described as having a “laidback atmosphere”. Dungey visits IACF Newark twice a year for stock while Richard Farnell, the shop’s manager who has been here as long as the family have owned the business, says that pieces are sourced locally and that there is also a Polish connection for antiques.
As well as the shop and farm an adjoining campersite brings plenty of customers - as well as publicity about the quirky stays in a restored 1965 Royal Navy helicopter as well as a 1999 submarine with a James Bond connection.
One to watch
Among the antiques businesses the ATG spoke to on the island, one shop several of them mentioned was Antiek in Ryde. This stylish interiors shop is owned by Natalie Cutting and Paul Radford who source stock at Kempton Park and IACF Ardingly and Shepton.
Cutting said: “My family moved to the island in the Seventies to set up in the trade and I moved back here gradually changing career after working in London in television. Paul is an islander from south London and gave up his garden landscaping business so now we work together.
“We had been trading for nine years from our home in Newchurch on the island and bought the shop in Ryde last year. There has been such a growth in small businesses in Ryde and we felt ours would fit.
“We have been so pleased with the results. Trade is strong with traditional country house furnishings whether it be quality furniture, lighting, rugs and paintings and we continue to look for antique garden items and statuary to meet demand. Quirky or curious is also a firm element.”
She added: “We choose stock carefully and only buy things we love and would have in our house. The island throws up quirky pieces and usually with stories to match.”
Northwood House is a grand Grade II-listed 18th century mansion perched on a hill at Cowes overlooking The Solent and set in a large park.
It is run by a charitable trust which fields events throughout the year including two of antiques interest taking place this month.
The small annual antiques and collectors’ fair in aid of the Isle of Wight branch of the Motor Neurone Disease Association will run on Sunday, March 12, at the house. The branch’s coffers are boosted by £2000 from each fair, which is run by sisters Doreen Grant and Jennie Lewis.
Messing about in boats is the theme for the IOW Spring Boat Jumble which had such a huge turnout last year of buyers and sellers that it will be repeated this year on Sunday, March 26, in Northwood Park.
Expect nauticalia, fishing boats, chandlery, ropes, sails, everything boat-related gets the nod.
Advance booking is required for sellers. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
John McLagan organises a small antiques and collectors’ fair on the first Sunday of the month at the finely restored Royal Victoria Arcade in Ryde, with the next on Sunday, April 2. Contact him on 07970 778088