For antiques collectors in Lancashire, the antique desks, wind-up gramophones and bric-a-brac curios of Portobello Road are one of the best reasons to visit London. The largest antiques market in the world, it’s worth visiting, even if you don’t buy into “shabby chic” Victorian dining chairs . But Preston visitors may soon find Portobello a thing of the past, if certain landlords get their way. Kensington and Chelsea Council have received an application from the owners of the Admiral Vernon Arcade to open for seven-day trading, which the Portobello Antique Dealers’ Association say will spell the end of the world-famous antiques enclave.
The Portobello Road market trades throughout the week. However, the weekends are given over to antiques and vintage clothing. As well as the outdoors stalls there are undercover arcades (similar to the Antiques Centre at Preston) where antique desks, Victorian dining chairs and other furniture are sold. Traditionally these dealers open just two days a week, spending the rest of the time buying goods from auctions.
The fear is that once the Admiral Vernon – known as Portobello’s “anchor” arcade – has seven day trading, antique dealers will be forced out, as they will be unable to purchase stock. This will clear the way for higher-paying chain store tenants to take their place. This has already happened in a neighbouring arcade, which is now a bargain clothing store, devoid of antiques and of little interest to visitors from outside the area.
London is a long way from Lancashire. But buying Victorian dining chairs and antique desks from Preston antiques dealers gives out a clear message: Portobello Road needs its arcades to stay exactly as they are.
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