Biggleswade antiques fair still going strong after 40 years

Biggleswades Antiques & Vintage Fair
Biggleswades Antiques & Vintage Fair

Standing in the hustle and bustle of Biggleswade’s Antiques & Vintage Fair, it is hard to imagine what it would have been like when it first began, exactly 40 years ago this month.

In its founding year of 1978, Margaret Thatcher was in government, the likes of David Bowie and Abba were topping the music charts and Grease and Saturday Night Fever were showing in the cinemas.

Fair organisers Jane and Kate at the Antiques Roadshow at Audley End

Fair organisers Jane and Kate at the Antiques Roadshow at Audley End

The internet was yet to be invented, never mind selling sites such as eBay, and shops were closed on Sundays.

John and Jean Tibbles started the Antiques Fair on Sunday, November 19, 1978, to give people the chance to visit 30 or so shops under one roof.

It was a huge success.

Today, the shops are open every Sunday and selling sites, charity shops and garden centres are increasingly popular.

But despite this, the Antiques & Vintage Fair in Biggleswade is still going strong after four decades, with more than 45 dealers attending and crowds of visitors each month.

Over the years, the fair has matched weird and wonderful antique and vintage items to their new owners, including a cinema seat and a 1940s Union Jack flag bought by a couple having a 1940s wedding.

The fair is now run by mother-and-daughter team Jane Holland and Kate Howlett, of Madison Events. Between them they have clocked up over 50 years in the antiques business, specialising in jewellery and architectural antiques. In their spare time they are regularly found at antiques markets.

Nine years on from taking over the fair, Jane and Kate have renamed it the Antiques & Vintage Fair and are launching a new fair in Potters Bar early next year. They are proud of the fair’s success, and enjoy the social side, as stall holders become good friends and visitors become regulars.

They say the best part of being an antiques fair organiser is watching visitors talking about what they have seen over lunch in the busy café, or overhearing their joy at finding a unique object they have been looking for.

The next Antiques & Vintage Fair will be held on Sunday, November 18 at The Weatherley Centre, Eagle Farm Road, Biggleswade SG18 8JH.

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