Dealer calls time on antiques trade that used to go a bomb

Robin Wetherill , owner of  Bishopgate Antiques on Bishopthorpe Road in York who is retiring after  54 years
Robin Wetherill , owner of Bishopgate Antiques on Bishopthorpe Road in York who is retiring after 54 years
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He is the longest-serving trader on one of Yorkshire’s signature shopping streets and through his hands have passed a wartime German bomb and the engine from an 1897 motor tricycle.

But after 54 years, the business in what Robin Wetherill likes to call “exotic junk” will end when he and his wife, Glynis, close the door on the antiques shop on York’s Bishopthorpe Road that is also their home.

He bought the property in 1974 for £6,000, having already run it for the previous owner.

“I got it when prices were at a low,” he said. “It was when they putting the inner ring road in, and it put a blight on the area. “

It has been very considerably gentrified since then.”

His shop, Bishopgate Antiques, was formerly known as York’s Bargain Centre and has long been a destination in its own right, its window stuffed with bric-a-brac big and small.

Mr Wetherill, 74, is selling it off as fast as possible as the new owners have not said what they intend to sell, if anything.

“The antiques trade is in turmoil,” he said. “Georgian pieces – what they call brown furniture – have dropped in value considerably. I’m currently looking to get £150 for a Georgian commode. Around 20 years ago it would have been worth £420.”

But it is the unusual items of inventory that have stuck in his memory. The bomb was a V-1 flying Doodlebug, and the engine had come off a De Dion-Bouton motor tricycle. It was sold to a man in plus fours, who rode up on an identical model.

Mr and Mrs Wetherill plan to retire to nearby Poppleton.