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16 September 2020

Antiques and vintage

by Dee Ivall

Whether you’re an antique aficionado or just love browsing bric-a-brac, Cornwall is a goldmine. Most towns have at least one prize shop to root out, and some are bursting at the seams. And don’t forget about the antique centres, fairs, auction houses, reclamation yards, car boot sales, and specialist charity shops. With the help of a couple of knowledgeable treasure-seeking pals, I’ve saved you the slog and mapped out the county’s hotspots. Happy hunting.

Foundry Gallery, Hayle

Hayle makes my list because of its proximity to Three Mile Beach rather than its renown as an antiques Mecca, but The Hayle Art & Antiques Centre at the Foundry Gallery is well worth a peek. It usually has some fine examples of Hayle and Newlyn copper. Wares from this local craft industry that thrived at the turn of the last century are now much sought-after.

How far? 10-minute drive.

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La Belle: Art Deco Antiques

As you’re sure to drive through, or near to, Redruth at least once during your stay, I wanted to mention La Belle. I remember stumbling across this place years ago and being truly wowed. They specialise in the art deco period, so, if that’s not your bag, you can give it a miss. Otherwise, prepare for a mind-blowing experience. So meticulously arranged is the stock that it feels more like a museum than a shop. So comprehensive is the variety that I quickly gave up writing a list of the delights you might find there.

How far? 25-minute drive.

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In and around Penzance

Chapel Street

I lived near Penzance for a few years and spent many happy times scouring the town for vintage gems. A safe place to start is historic Chapel Street, home to a veritable ‘ramshackle’ of antique dealers (my coined collective noun).

I particularly like the den of curios called Steckfensters – its vast bay windows packed with oddities makes it impossible to ignore. I’d also drop into Daisy Laing Vintage for its well-curated collection of mid-century furniture and a great selection of vinyl. For artefacts with a little more age, head across the road to Daphne’s Antiques.

I’ll let you comb the rest of the town on your own, but there are certainly a few great places to track down if you have the time. I should, however, mention the proliferation of auction houses: David Lay and Barbara Kirk for antiques and collectables, Barnes Thomas and W.H Lane & Son for fine art.

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Shiver Me Timbers

And, if you’re driving in or out of the town on the A30 to Redruth, you must visit the sprawling wonderland of relics that is Shiver Me Timbers, the legendary reclamation yard near the village of Crowlas.

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In and around Falmouth

Old High Street and Commercial Street

Falmouth’s thriving antiques and vintage ‘scene’ is one of the many reasons to take the short drive from Three Mile Beach. For visitors – antiquity-minded or otherwise, I’d recommend making straight for the Old High Street. It’s where you’ll find many of the town’s best independent shops.

Near the top, there’s Ludgate House Antiques, presenting choice pieces from the last three centuries. The High Street Bazaar offers a real mixture of stuff, but now and then I happen upon something really special. The Little Vintage Warehouse 13 does a great line in vintage clothes and it’s where we found our much-coveted light fitting from Blackpool illuminations. At the bottom of the street, Marmalade Antiques & Vintage provides even further feasting for the eyes. But the fun doesn’t stop there; if you keep going around the corner, you’ll find Antics of Falmouth and Bygone Days Trading Company on Webber Street.

Charity shops, on the whole, don’t offer up the precious finds they once did, but there are exceptions. Some, like Cornwall Hospice Care’s Retro Chic Warehouse on Penryn’s Commercial Street, specialises in proper vintage. They even have an in-house refurb team, who lovingly restore well-loved furniture pieces.

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In and about St. Austell

I don’t know St. Austell that well, but my inside sources tell me that Cougar Antiques & Vintage Emporium is a good bet. Just outside the town, is a place I am familiar with. Eden Reclamation, named after the nearby Eden Project, specialises in architectural items and was a useful resource in our home-renovation project, supplying us with a pantry door, Victorian fireplace, and some very nice brass bath taps. A fascinating place to get lost in.

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Three Mile Beach is a collection of 15 luxury self-catering 2, 3, and 4 bedroom beach houses in the wilds of St Ives Bay, Cornwall.

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