Allan Blackburn column

Allan Blackburn.
Allan Blackburn.

Well I’m back. I’ve been on holiday as I always try to do at this time of year.

GB Antiques Centre is open all year round every day except Christmas Day, and as we are always so busy over the Christmas period, once the New Year rush has died down, I try and get a break.

This year my wife and I went to the Cotswolds and I was really shocked by what’s happened to the antiques trade there.

Stow on the Wold is one of a number of beautiful towns in the Cotswolds that has seen a distressing down turn in business.

In fact, the Costwold’s has seen more changes in the Antiques trade than anywhere else in the country.

This crisis has nothing with do with the economic climate in this country or indeed visitor numbers or day trippers and tourists.

The change is completely governed by the Americans. Since 9/11 the Americans just don’t want to travel.

It’s not that they’ve fallen out of love with antiques (or even England) they are simply doing less travelling.

Once upon a time Americans would descend from Heathrow airport and either go straight into London or travel to the Cotswolds to start their “antiques trail”.

It would take them from the Cotswolds, through Chester, up to the Lakes and then on to Edinburgh.

Of course all the cities on the antiques trail have been affected now, but they have other mainstays, other than antiques to keep the visitors coming.

Chester has its race course, the Lake District has its hills and walks and Edinburgh surely is the capital of weekend short breaks. But aside for the exceptional beauty of the place, the Cotswolds is made up of tiny tea shops and exquisite antiques shops.

Speaking to an antiques expert down there, I was amazed to learn that 10 years ago there were 57 antiques shops in Stow on the Wold and today there are just six.

Incredible figures to comprehend but even here at GB Antiques Centre we have also been affected by the massive down turn in American visitors.

They used to equate to 10 per cent of all our business and now that figure is just 0.5 per cent.

Antiques shops are just one of the trades to be affected by the down turn in American tourism alongside hotels, pubs and restaurants.