Allan Blackburn column

Allan Blackburn.
Allan Blackburn.

I was walking through the centre this week and thinking about all the different dealers we get here at the centre.

We have people who specialise in toys, clocks, memorabilia, painted furniture, you name it, we’ve probably got it.

But it wasn’t always like this. The antiques centre has seen many changes over the years, and for a time there was a lot of the same types of things.

Twenty years ago this was nothing to be ashamed of, we had the stock that people wanted to buy, and business was good.

But then our customers wanted something more.

More modern antiques were becoming popular and collectors wanted things from their grandma’s era, things they remembered as children, and not just something from the history books.

It was November in 2001 that we had our first really exciting ‘new’ stand. In response to the public’s interest in ‘retro-moderne’ collectables, we decided to dedicate a space within the centre to the gleaming chrome, shiny vinyl and lurid colours of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

Turning from an aisle of elegant porcelain, lustrous mahogany and pretty Victoriana, visitors were suddenly confronted with the most outrageous colours and wildest designs. It was a surprising contrast back then, but one which enriched the centre.

This was the start of a trend for dealers with more unusual pieces to come to us to trade.

That trend still continues today and whilst items like cobra phones and moon lamps may not be true antiques, they are innovative and unusual and very popular with our visitors.

Good, original retro moderne pieces can be difficult to find.

The movement ended abruptly during the 1970s energy crisis when plastics production plummeted.

By the time production had recovered, those trendy style setters of the fifties were middle aged, respectable and preferred Mock Tudor to curves and chrome.

A lot of pieces were just thrown away, people no longer saw the fun in a Rolls Royce shaped bar or an egg shaped chair.

Nowadays, however, the retro love affair is rekindled and 13 years on, we are lucky enough to have still have a dealer who’s passionate about this period.