As most of you are very familiar with our fabulous author of fascinating and factual stories Stuart Miller-Osborne, I thought I would let you read this wonderful story of how he came to know and love Hungerford Arcade. This was first published in our Newsletter a few years ago and I still love to read it! The one draw back is.....I had to re-type it as it would not copy on to the Blog!
DISCOVERING HUNGERFORD ARCADE FOR THE FIRST TIME
I first spotted the Arcade from a train as it shot across the bridge towards the West Country a number of years ago. As it happened, I was in nearby Newbury a few weeks later and decided to venture to Hungerford to investigate, and what a surprise awaited me. it was like the Tardis in the Dr. Who television programme. The building was rather quaint on the outside with innumerable antiques in the window. However, on entry one is faced with an overwhelming degree of choice. Whether you are a collector of stamps or an aficionado of stuffed animals these were within sight.
My actual areas of interest were interwar ceramics mainly Susie Cooper and Clarice Cliff as well as Meakin and Moyott which as I found out when searching antiques shops in London was a very expensive hobby. As I discovered the geography of the Arcade, I found to the left a small holding that when you explored further led steeply down to a cellar of delights. There were items from every year - a number of royal mugs from 1953, 1937 as well as a jubilee cup from 1887. On further investigation, I found a small pile of plates and after a short review, I found a Susie Cooper supper plate with the unbelievable price of £1. I did not find any others but discovered a rather nice Alfred Meakin plate for the same price which was a very nice start.
I braved the stairs once again and explored further. I witnessed everything from old garage advertisements to the beauty of Rene Lalique glassware. Further on, I found a cabinet with a large number of exquisite Clarice Cliff plates, candlesticks and pepper pots. I looked longingly and hoped for my up and coming birthday (My wish came true a few months later). I passed fabrics which looked to have originated from the school of William Morris, beautiful but where would I keep them?
Then a little further on, I came to another passion, books. With the smell of bacon (from Rafters the cafe which I was tempted by but did not visit, I was still suffering from the FGW tea warm from the buffet at Newbury) I am nearly six feet tall which placed me at a slight disadvantage when perusing through the books. However, I soon stooped to conquer and found some gems. There were poems of Tennyson in a gorgeous maroon cover. There were also poems and plays of TS Eliot as well as biographies of Pushkin and Coleridge and I had not even turned my head. Indeed I settled in the finish for the Tennyson and a first edition of a Joseph Conrad and I had only spent a few pence over a tenner.
Further exploration of all kinds of artefacts (I was tempted more than once but remained strong). However, my resolve was subsequently breached when I found another Susie Cooper, this time a lovely trio. At the end of the day I spent a little under £20 and departed with a bag full of treasure (Many of my fellow shoppers looked to have done likewise, each in their own sphere of collection). Indeed whether you have a fiver or five thousand pounds to spend there is something for you.
Since my initial visit, I have now moved to Hungerford to enjoy the peace of the area and am very happy to say that the Hungerford Arcade Antiques is now my local shop.