From antique weaponry to props worthy of Bridgerton, Hemswell Antiques Centre is an Aladdin’s Cave of fascinating items.
It is the largest in Europe and was in the spotlight this month after a visit from Johnny Depp.
Nestled within the site of a former Lincolnshire RAF base is the impressive Hemswell Antiques Centre, spread across four outbuildings all stocked with masses of vintage items.
The former RAF Hemswell site was the home of the Lancaster bomber, and in 1986 it was converted to be opened as Hemswell Antiques Centre – initially just as one building.
The business scaled up over the years and became the largest antiques centre in Europe with the introduction of the second and third buildings in the 1990s and a fourth building in 2014.
Everything you could imagine is within the walls of Hemswell Antiques Centre. If it’s collectible sports cards you’re after, or maybe a grandfather clock, perhaps some vintage oak furniture or even classic rugs, rest assured that your needs are catered for.
Hemswell deals with around 400 antique dealers from across the world, placing the stock inside and selling on their behalf.
The brand has developed beyond just selling the stock to people who come to visit the centre.
It is a regular supplier of props for television and film production companies, such as Netflix and Warner Bros.
In recent times it has been a setting for Bargain Hunt episodes, and even provided furniture for the TV set of hit Netlix series Bridgerton.
The ethos of the brand is very simple, as explained by Managing Director Robert Miller, who has been in charge at Hemswell Antiques Centre since 1999 – following the death of his father.
“We offer value for money with plenty of heritage and history”, he told The Lincolnite.
“We have items varying from £1 to £10,000, so there really is something for everyone. I wanted to make a trip to Hemswell a real experience.
“I ran Wiltshire Farm Foods before coming to Hemswell but was asked to help the centre with its corporate identity, and I am still here to this day.
“It has absolutely flown by. It’s been a real rollercoaster but I have met some amazing people along the way.”
Another vital aspect to the business is its use of live virtual tours, which allowed Hemswell to get ahead of the competition during the chaos of COVID-19.
Thousands of items are sold during these live auctions, which see Robert tour the site on a livestream to display the antiques that are on offer.
He says business has boomed as a result of these auctions, with clients as far afield as Japan, Norway, America and even Australia.
Many esteemed individuals come to visit Hemswell, with Robert saying he is no stranger to seeing helicopters land nearby, and there was recently a very famous face that walked through the doors…
The Johnny Depp visit
Staff at Hemswell Antiques Centre were left shocked by the visit of Hollywood star Johnny Depp earlier this month.
The Pirates of the Caribbean star arrived in Lincolnshire by helicopter, buying a range of furniture items for a new property he has bought in London.
His eyes lit up as he entered a room dedicated to music, full of a wide range of guitars. Depp spent close to an hour in that room alone and left with three new guitars for his collection.
Described as a “happy coincidence”, the guitars he was spotted playing, as well as the chair he was sat on, were sold soon after Johnny Depp’s visit.
Discussing the visit of the Hollywood A-lister, Robert Miller said: “He was like a kid in a sweet shop, but it was great to see how humble he was.
“He told us he can sometimes feel like a prisoner in his own hotel room or home, so he really enjoyed the space he was given here.”
The art to success in a business like this one is never staying stagnant and always looking for ways to improve.
Despite already being the largest antiques centre in Europe, an application has been put in to extend one of the buildings, and a new furniture photo studio has also been proposed.
The business is also taking the climate agenda seriously, planning to install 300 solar panels on the warehouse roofs, which is in keeping with the naturally environmentally beneficial business model of selling old antiques.
It doesn’t come without challenges, though. Brexit impacted the business’ ability to work freely with antique dealers across Europe, and the rising cost of living has seen overhead costs soar to a point that is “killing off small businesses”, Robert said.
Discussing the ways Hemswell has managed to remain a powerhouse business, Robert states: “We are constantly looking for ways to grow. The way I see it is you get out what you put in, so we all work really hard to make this a success.
“We sell thousands of items online through our auctions and website traffic. Digital marketing and our website are big tools for our success, it’s so important to have a global online presence.”
Hemswell Antiques Centre is open every day of the year, apart from Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, from 10am to 5pm, including during Easter.
Free parking is available outside all four buildings, and weekly car boot sales are held out in the main car park each Sunday.
To explore the wide range of items and dealers, where you can order antiques directly to your door, visit Hemswell Antiques Centre’s website.
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