Spendthrift goes to Bath
Six reasons to visit the Georgian Spa Town
Saturday 23 November 1996
Tel: 01225 484215
This is Kaffe Fassett's first solo showroom, and it's filled with more than just the tapestries and knitting kits with which he made his name -though of course there are plenty of both. The shop also stocks Kaffe's new ceramic designs: tea sets, which appear to be covered with collages of old rose wallpaper and wrapping paper, come in three patterns with prices from pounds 10.95 for a mug to pounds 59.95 for a teapot. Recent works on canvas and a number of multicoloured rag-rugs and mirrors - whose frames are decorated with hundreds of buttons - cover the walls. The antique china from which Kaffe draws inspiration is scattered around the shop and most pieces are for sale. Keep your eyes peeled for the extraordinary miniature vegetable tea-sets.
Bath Saturday Antiques Market, Walcot Street Car Park.
On Friday evenings the old South Western Electricity Building at the bottom of Walcot street begins its metamorphosis from car park to bustling flea market. From dawn to dusk on Saturday the cavernous depot is a magnet for locals, tourists and bargain hunters. It is a fantastic place to lose yourself for a couple of hours. Although billed as an antiques market many stalls stock nothing of the sort. There are racks of multi-coloured tie-dye clothes, contemporary bric-a-brac and a couple of stalls selling reproduction furniture. The main yard at the front is usually a sea of old pine tables and dressers, across which wafts the smell of fried onions from the burger stand at the front. This may not sound too appetising but on a cold damp day it can be strangely comforting. On a recent visit I managed to buy a wonderful set of six glasses (c.1920) for pounds 18. The label said pounds 23, and I wasn't even given a chance to start bartering - the discount was offered the minute I showed interest. For bookworms there are tressel tables groaning with musty old volumes and for musos lots of fantastic old vinyl.
Walcot Reclamation, 108 Walcot Street, Bath BA1 5BG
Tel: 01225 444404
To anyone with a penchant for battered buildings or who dreams of revamping a ruin, a trip to Walcot Reclamation is a must. The view from the yard gates is stunning: vast terracotta pots and stacks of wrought iron gates. A large signpost points you in the direction of old baths, fire surrounds, doors and window frames. Business started in 1977 when owner Rick Napp was asked by Bath City Council to clear an old builder's yard. Mr Napp realised that he'd stumbled on a business, and instead of destroying the remains he started selling it and buying more in. The company operates from two sites in the city. Walcot road is where you get your household add-ons - fireplaces, window frames, doors, gates, iron radiators and old fashioned baths - and the depot down by the river houses reclaimed bricks, york stone slabs and roof-tiling. Prices are competitive and as well as the reclaimed stock there are also several workshops belonging to local craftsmen who will rustle up fireplaces and kitchen units to order.
Tridias, 124 Walcot Street, Bath, BA1 5BG. Tel: 01225 314730
There are branches of this fantastic toy emporium in other cities but Bath is where it began and this is the best place for the un-initiated to get their first taste of Tridias. In past years the company laid on story-tellers and face painting to keep children occupied while their parents shopped for Christmas presents in peace. But last year this initiative drew such huge crowds that it was in danger of having the reverse effect. The shop offers a clever mix of traditional toys, which will appeal to children and parents in equal measure, and a good range of the latest mass-produced offerings, as long as Tridias believes they're good value and well made. There are lots of train sets; a Medieval Playcastle-cum- dolls-house, pounds 120, complete with throne and arms room; farmyard sets from pounds 30; a fortress with draw bridge, pounds 39; six-packs of knights in armour, pounds 2.95, and loads of games, craft kits and soft toys. There's a mail order catalogue if you can't get to Bath.
Susannah, 142-144 Walcot Street, Bath BA1 5BL. Tel: 01225 445069
Sue Holley has always loved textiles and her shop began life as a personal collection. This grew into a market stall and then a small shop in her village. Locals thought the idea of a shop dedicated to worn-out fabrics a little eccentric and business was slow. Five years ago she moved the enterprise to Bath and it's flourishing. Sue describes her set-up as "not elegant, but pretty and very chintzy". It is a shrine to Twenties and Thirties fabrics. Although she specialises in textiles - most of them soft faded, florals - Sue also sells a few small pieces of antique furniture. Original floral feather-filled quilts (c.1940) are about pounds 30-pounds 75 and pretty handstitched turn of the century quilts are from pounds 150-250. Sue scours the country in search of suitable bundles of fabric, but says stock is becoming harder to find. Some pieces will be made into cushions or may end up lining the old baskets she also collects. These start at pounds 39.50 and the price rises according to the size and age of the basket and the quality of the fabric.
Mary Rose Young, 6 London Street (the top of Walcot Street) Tel: 01225 445899.
For those of you already familiar with Mary Rose Young's exuberant ceramics her shop is exactly as you would imagine: breezy green walls clash happily with orange shelves, and every surface is crammed with rose encrusted cups, bowls decorated with flapping crows and tea sets covered with multicoloured stripes. Mary Rose started making her ceramics thirteen years ago in an old coal shed, and sold her works from a barrow in Bristol. These days her biggest markets are America and Europe and the barrow has been replaced by a large studio and a team of assistants. Having conquered the rest of the world a Mary Rose Young shop on home turf was the logical next step. Additions to her signature rose bud designs include a new range of candelabras and a whole collection of "jewel" encrusted dishes, jars, mugs and vases. Prices are from pounds 15-pounds 800 and for pounds 375 you can jazz up your bathroom with a Mary Rose Young lavatory.
And while you're there... you might like to visit The Pump Rooms or No1 Royal Crescent (a National Trust property), take a Jane Austin City Tour (Tel: 01225 465417). Then again you'll probably have too much shopping to lug around. Luckily, Bath is bristling with tea shops and cafes, so you can relax in true spa town style and take tea while watching the world go by.
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