Hemswell Antique Centres

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The Guardroom Official Opening

A NEW development at Europe’s biggest antiques centre has been heralded as a triumph of combining heritage with modern design. The new Guardroom at Hemswell was praised by councillors, and retired servicemen who had been stationed at the former base, at the centre’s official opening. The 52 ex-servicemen had made a special trip to see the unveiling of the two-storey building where many had worked during the 40’s, 50s and 60s. They were among dozens of VIPs, dealers, staff and invited guests who celebrated the culmination of months of hard work on the redevelopment of the building. The project represents a significant investment by Hemswell Antiques MD Robert Miller and has created ten new jobs. The Guardroom houses 80 new dealers from across the UK, Ireland, Spain and France – half of whom are new dealers to Hemswell – as well as a brand new coffee shop. “It was a redundant building that needed new life breathing into it and that is what we have achieved,” said Mr Miller. “It’s been a lot of hard work and has required a significant investment to create such an iconic building but it’s been well worth it. The reaction and footfall have already been exceptionally positive. “We are proud that we are retaining the fantastic heritage of this former RAF base but bringing the buildings up to date. It’s the best way to ensure our history is preserved.” Bill Collard, 83, from Brentwood – who served at Hemswell during the 1950s – cut the ribbon at the ceremony and told the assembled guests how delighted he was that the original buildings were being retained. “We are absolutely delighted with the work Robert has done here. It is helping to keep our unit alive,” he said. “This site used to reverberate to the sound of Merlin engines and though it may be rather quieter these days the entrepreneurs who have taken over at Hemswell have replaced that with the buzz of a busy antiques centre. “We are delighted these old buildings have been redeveloped in such a magnificent way.” The design of the new building, with its gallery style central area, was inspired by a trade visit to Japan carried out by Mr Miller last year. The company currently exports around seven per cent of its goods to the Far East – around 30 per cent of its entire overseas trade – and launched a new Japanese language website to capitalise on growth in this region. Hemswell Antique Centres, which was established in 1986, already boasted items from 300 dealers across three other buildings at its former RAF base home. The work on the Guardroom was carried out by Stow-based building company The Gelder Group.

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