April 19th, 2008 Telegraph Magazine

FIRST PORT OF CALL

When two artistic Londoners decided the capital had lost its charm, they found their dream in a south-coast town that just happens to be a magnet for antiques bargain-hunters. Hilary Robertson sees how they set up shop and made themselves at home. Photographs by Bruce Hemming.

...antiques dealer Vicky Wetherill and her husband Jason Skriniar, a video editor, decided on a disarmingly simple relocation plan. ‘We researched the cheapest places to buy property at a commutable distance and came across St Leonards-on-Sea, which seemed ridiculously good value.’

...If the peeling but intact stucco, the glittering seascapes, working fishing beach in Hastings Old Town, rugged cliffs of the Country Park and the Government’s promise of regeneration weren’t enough to convince them, there was always Norman Road. Like homing pigeons, they immediately discovered St Leonards’ answer to London’s Portobello Road, where seasoned dealers huddle together and vans are regularly unloaded with booty from flea markets across the Channel. Norman Road is tacitly recognised as first stop in the antiques food chain on the way to London. Proprietors of grander shops in Brighton, canny decorators or free-wheeling cool-hunters from the capital know that they will find bargains there. The strip of sea, just a glimpse away from the steeply sloping street, is a constant reminder of the easy connections to France, the antique addict’s favourite playground.
Encouraged by the possibility of trading here and easy access to the Continent on buying trips, Wetherill and Skriniar made a decisive move...

...Skylon hit the spot with its collection of smart mid-century pieces mingled with more than a dash of kitsch. ‘We like British design from the 1950s and we like some horrible things too’, Wetherill says, referring to her penchant for combining classic furniture by Ernest Race, Norman Cherner and Robin Day with playful, more eccentric finds...

[condensed from a five-page article]

64 Norman Road, St Leonards On Sea, East Sussex TN38 0EJ. Phone: 07900 947090 / 01424 445691 / 07974 567122

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