Focus on Bath – Vintage Bath

Now most people enjoy a rummage around a good charity shop, market or antique shop and it’s no exception in Bath. We’re really lucky to have some fantastic vintage and antique shops in the city, plus a regular Sunday Vintage & Antiques Market, which means plenty of trinkets and treasures to find.

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Looking around at what’s on the internet, we noticed there’s not really an up to date comprehensive list of Vintage establishments in Bath, so we thought we’d best correct that for you. So, here is our fun trail around the streets of the fabulous furnishings, terrific trends and eclectic emporiums of Vintage in the city.

Let’s start right at the top – that’s up near the Royal Crescent and The Circus. A great place to start to take in the striking architecture and history before immersing yourself and your wallet in the world of consumerism.

* Margaret Buildings

A growing mecca of Vintage and Antique businesses. Here on the corner of the street you have the well established shop of Alexandra May that sells stunning modern and vintage jewellery, accessories and gifts. It’s jam packed full of delights, so much so that you feel at any moment you are about to knock something flying from the groaning tables and shelves.

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Heaven’s Bazaar at Number 3, is a little decadent treat of a shop with Vintage and pre-loved designer pieces including furnishings as well as fashions. Stock is on two floors and delightfully presented. You can also buy online. They stock anything from 1900 upwards.

Next up is a shop that doesn’t have a name but is painted royal blue and has a small sign with opening times upon it. This is Brian & Caroline Craik’s Antique shop at No.8. Worth a look in just for the sheer randomness of the items they have for sale. The window display is always a delight, with the huge toy bear a great draw for kids. As described by The Telegraph as “eccentric”, it lives up to this description!

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At the end of the buildings you will find a brand new shop – Geoffrey Breeze’s Mantiques. Bang on trend this is a tiny but perfectly formed gentleman’s emporium. With items from beautifully carved canes to tiny silver snuff boxes, even I was getting chap envy! Great for accessories and a few choice furnishings.

Turning back on oneself, head back along Margaret Building’s and turn into Brock Street. Here you will find Beau Nash and silver experts Duncan Campbell and Ron Pringle. Their lovingly designed window draws you into a world of sumptuous decadence of other eras but their pieces will sit as comfortably in a 21st Century home as they once did in a 1930’s lady’s apartment.

* Saville Row leading to Bartlett Street

London’s Mayfair has its own tailoring capital of the same name but we in Bath put the “b” in bespoke (and an extra “l” in Savile) with the eclectic mix of pieces in the vintage and antique shops that line both Saville Row and Bartlett Street.

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Firstly head behind the wonderful Assembly Rooms and find a rather welcome sight, where one can rest one’s weary feet after the initial vintage spree of the day, Bea’s Vintage Tea Rooms.

Step back into the 1930s and 1940s where you’ll be served by ladies in red lippy and t-strap shoes. The menus are kept within a ration book cover, but there’s no war time scrimping on portion size here. Tuck into classics such as Corned Beef hash, Ploughman’s, Bubble & Squeak and home-made pies. Drinks include elderflower bubbly, a selection of loose leaf teas and milkshakes. A perfect end to your meal is a slice of the ginormous home-made cakes that seem to wink at you from their display cabinet. Well, there is a lot more vintage shopping to do!

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Fuelled up you simply have to roll next door to Saville Row Retro shop. Here Bea of next door’s Vintage Tea Room fame has expanded to sell some of the wonderful items you see in use in her cafe. Concentrating on the period of the 1940’s to 1970’s, there will be many familiar household items for sale here. Pick yourself out a stunning brooch or a decorative glass vase to enhance your home. Staff are friendly and knowledgeable about the products and love that items evoke memories from browsers – from the Marmite toastrack to the Ercol dining sets.

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On the corner of Savile Row you’ll find a totally different shop. The windows blanketed in dark clouds of fabric, here the stock speaks for itself. This is Westbury Fine Art, where Marcus Westbury sells art from the Renaissance to the 19th Century. A well established and renowned art seller around the world Marcus displays the paintings in a selective but sumptuous way.

Crossing over Alfred Street, head downhill along Bartlett Street. Keep your eyes peeled to the left as there are more vintage and antique finds here.

Firstly we have Felix Lighting Specialists. At first glance it may seem rather a stark industrial window, but look beyond and you see the beauty of the pieces, both vintage and designed in store. They’ve worked with companies such as Jamie’s Italian and Soho House, and will be happy to work with you too to find, or create, that piece of lighting perfect for your home or business.

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A lot of the Antique shops in Bath have disappeared over the years as more and more sellers turn to the Internet, however Bartlett Street Antique Centre remain a stalwart of the vintage and antiques scene in the city. It may have had a reduction in size but the quality of the antiques you will find here are second to none. There are specialist dealers here, as well as a further 60 dealer showcases. Great for a browse around with everything from dolls and ephemera to clocks and watches.

* Walcot Street

Walcot Street is known as the bohemian heart of Bath. It’s lost a little of it’s uniqueness since the disappearance of Walcot Nation Day and some of the businesses like Walcot Reclamation, however it retains some gems of retro retail heaven.

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Jack & Danny’s could be called a Walcot Street institution. Though its address is actually London Road, it’s situated right at the top of Walcot and you can’t really miss it with the windows covered in clothing hanging from every conceivable part of its frontage! Since opening its doors in 1967 this family run business has supplied most of Bath as well as students and stars with fancy dress and vintage delights. There are so many unusual items in here but be warned you need time to rummage through everything and pull out the pieces you love. Nothing is sorted by size and hardly anything is priced, but that’s the wonderful thing about Jack & Danny’s; it’s old school and isn’t apologetic about it in the slightest. Long live J&D!

Opposite the great co-operative owned pub, The Bell, there is a charity shop that takes a page from Jack & Denny’s book with piles of clothes and shoes in both tiny rooms ready for you to rummage through. This is the Bath Women’s Refuge Shop and is a must for bargain hunters. It may not have vintage treasures dating back to the 1950’s (although who knows what’s beneath the piles of clothes and boxes in there?!) that you may be seeking but you can still find a few gems if you have the time to look.

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Near to the end of Walcot Street you will find two more shops that will keep vintage lovers busy. The first is Julian House Charity Shop. I’ve deliberately not focused on charity shops here, but only those that specifically are worth a mention because of the treasures they have and Julian House is definitely included in this list. At the back of the shop is their Vintage & Retro section, including menswear. Here in a polyester and rayon static heaven you can find anything from clothing, shoes, annuals and china. Don’t forget the book shop downstairs!

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Only a few doors down from Julian House is another stalwart of Bath’s vintage scene – The Yellow Shop. Open for more than a decade both men and women can dig around to find original and new clothes, shoes and accessories, all with a kitsch and vintage feel. Mainly concentrating from the 1950s onwards, but with a few steam punk items thrown in.

* Broad Street & Milsom Street

There’s been a recent change on Broad Street and one that leads me to add an extra street to my list, but the original shop remains but just rejigged. I’m talking about the Dorothy House Hospice Charity Shop on Broad Street. Always a go to for vintage and retro pieces that were displayed at the back, past the bookshelves, they’ve recently opened up a new specific vintage shop in the city, and thus moved out all the fashion stock. However, they’ve replaced fashion with furnishings and vintage ones to boot. So take a look if you need to revamp and retrofy your pad.

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Walk towards the top of Broad Street and you will find The Black and White Shop. Having been opened only a few years this is a great place to go for vintage and designer pieces for all genders. They have window displays of furnishings, great kitsch pictures on the wall for sale and racks upon racks of wonderful clothes. Vintage can be found near the back, accessories and bags are dotted around, plus shoes are ordered in areas by size. For me, with big feet, I have to follow the trail up stairs, but it also means I get to poke my nose into the men’s room, where again there are great jackets, shoes and much more to be found for the chaps.

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Crossing over Broad Street you head through an archway that leads you to a car park. Don’t worry, you’ve not gone the wrong way, just keep walking ahead and the alleyway you find yourself in will reveal to you one of the wonders of Bath – Vintage to Vogue (if you’re coming from Milsom Street direction, look out for the sign boards outside the alley entrance).

I’ve been going to Vintage to Vogue since I was a teenager. Now owned and run by two vintage savvy lovelies, Imren Eshref and John Lowin, they’ve taken Vintage to Vogue onto another level entirely with their well kept pieces from as early as the 19th Century. Sourcing from all over the world their prices aren’t cheap but the clothes are beautiful. This shop has one of THE best vintage menswear departments I’ve ever seen and certainly takes up as much space as the women’s collections. It’s so well regarded in the vintage scene that the wardrobe department for Downton Abbey bought up their stock of original flapper dresses for last seasons series.

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* Bridge Street

If you’re heading to look at the stunning Pultney Bridge, or perhaps hurrying to catch the match at The Rec, then there’s a new vintage delight to tempt the pounds from your pocket – Coffee House 76. This is in fact a Dorothy House Hospice charity shop, and is where the vintage stock of the Broad Street shop is now housed. Perfectly presented, this store doesn’t feel like a charity shop at all, and talking to the Manager, the aim is to keep it strictly to its spec of being a vintage emporium only. A coffee shop is located upstairs, which if you’ve been following the above trail, you will certainly need to use to have another refuel here!

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* Guildhall Market, High Street

Open during the week and on Saturday’s the Guildhall Market has almost everything under one roof – from books to tools, but for you vintage followers out there, you’ll want to head to Not Cartier’s. It’s where I go for my clip on earrings and has something for every pocket, from 50 pence to 50 pounds. Floor to ceiling sparkling delights – with locked cabinets full of Victoriana and 1920’s celluloid brooches to busts covered in diamante tiaras, necklaces and rings  – this is antique costume jewellery heaven! Blingtastic!

* Queen Street

We sadly have to report the demise of the lovely Scarlet Vintage shop that was along here, but it’s still worth going off piste and taking a walk down this picturesque street as you will find Vintage & Rare Guitars here at number 11. With three floors of string heaven, acoustic to electric, this is the perfect haunt of that budding Brian May or Django wannabee. I love taking a stroll down this street – simply follow the sound of the tunes to find this guitar mecca. There are even rare editions and signed pieces that collectors travel from all over the globe to view. Since I can’t play I think I’ll stick to air guitar and admiring in the shop the skill of those who can on some of the best instruments in the guitar world.

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* Kingsmead Square

I couldn’t talk about vintage clothing without including the newest ladies on the scene – Emma and Sharon Savage who run Grace & Ted Boutique in Kingsmead Square. This mother and daughter duo (NEVER I will hear you cry…they look more like sister’s than mum and daughter) are rocking the second hand scene, winning Best Independent Retailer in the South West of England this year! A designer re-sale shop for men and women, this is where you can pick up vintage Chanel, Prada, Michael Kors and Louis Vuitton, as well as more recent season pieces. However, even though you may not class them as a “vintage” shop per-se, stop and consider their mantra, “Fashion evolves, but style endures”, and stock up on timeless pieces that will over the years become vintage classics.

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If you are a lover of Vintage books then go no further than next door to the hotel! On Manvers Street you’ll find George Bayntun’s – a magical world of book binding, antique prints, second hand books and first editions that any bibliophile would love to get their hands on. From Biggles to Bond, Dickens to Defoe, people travel from all over the world to buy from this family run business. We’ve featured them before in a previous Focus On blog so take a look at the delights.

Keep an eye out too for irregular and regular vintage markets and fairs in and around the city. Every first, third and last Sunday in the month, Green Park Station lays host to the Vintage & Antiques Market where you can find records, fashions and furnishings galore. A regular Saturday occurrence is the Bath Flea Market, situated in the open air car park next to the Hilton Hotel at the bottom of Walcot Street. Here you can find a bargain or two and barter over anything from traditional tools to a gentleman’s trilby.

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Coming up on September 27th 2015 is the return of Lou Lou’s Vintage Fair, which is a nationally run vintage fair but regularly comes to Bath. This time it’s situated in The Pavilion and will be chocca full of vintage sellers from all over the UK. Judy’s Vintage Fair is also another familiar face in the city and runs affordable fairs with goods starting from as little as £5.

You can end your day perhaps donning some of your purchases and hitting the town and the retro nights such as Komedia’s Motorcity, a Motown, Rock & Roll, funk and blues explosion every Saturday night, or live music nights at Chapel Arts Centre or jazz nights at Green Park Brasserie. Whatever you choose to do, go shake your tail feather!

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We hope this has whet your appetite to come and explore the retro delights of our city. The shops may not be able to source anything original from the Roman or Georgian period but you are bound to come away with something you love. Why not make a few days of it and stay at our historic hotel in the heart of the city. With rooms starting from as little as £99 per couple per night B&B, you’ll have more money to spend on those vintage delights!

[Photographs copyright Catherine Pitt, Grace & Ted, Felix Lighting Specialists Ltd, Bath Vintage & Antiques Fair]

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