Antique-lover Mike launches own business in North Walsham

Determined antiques dealer Mike Jones is poised to launch his own north Norfolk business after a thriving centre he was managing was forced to close at short notice.

Timeline Antiques will open its doors in the former sales hall used by auctioneers Horner's, on North Walsham's Midland Road, on August 1.

The move makes Mr Jones, 53, his own boss for the first time in his career, and also gives work to five part-times sales staff who lost their jobs when the Scottow Barn Antiques Centre closed in May.

Mr Jones was left reeling when he was given only a few days notice to quit the Scottow centre, which he had been managing, after the adjoining Three Horseshoes pub suddenly closed.

The centre, which had been open for just two-and-a-half months, had been steadily growing, with about 30 dealers offering everything from furniture to paintings and silver, and sales of �18,000.

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'It was proceeding really well. Everybody was happy and we had just started to get the first of the tourists coming in - and they were prepared to spend money. Both I and the dealers were really disappointed when it had to close,' he said.

'I wanted the enthusiasm and knowledge I had picked up to continue. I had formed a good sales team so I started looking for alternative premises.'

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Most of the Scottow barn dealers are joining Mr Jones at Timeline and he said several potential new dealers had made enquiries.

Mr Jones, who lives in North Walsham, served in the RAF for 28 years before taking the post of project manager with North Walsham-based regeneration group the Griffon Area Partnership. He left that role after four years to manage the Scottow centre.

'I have always worked for somebody else until now,' he said. 'It's very exciting. If I look back on myself 10 years ago, I would never have believed I could be doing this today.'

Mr Jones believes, despite the economic downturn, people still want to buy antiques, helped by popular TV programmes like The Antiques Roadshow and Bargain Hunt, which he said was being filmed at the Norfolk Showground last weekend.

Antiques such as silver, where prices had recently 'gone through the roof' were also seen as a good long-term investment, he added.

Timeline, which will be open from 10am to 5pm from Monday to Saturday and 11am to 4pm on Sundays, will be officially opened by Don Birch, co-owner of North Walsham's Beechwood Hotel, on August 4 at 5pm.

Horners still have an office in the building but their auctions are now held at Acle.

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