Exciting news! The much-loved Antiques Fair and Vintage Market is returning to the National Botanic Garden of Wales after a three year absence.

It’s high time that this popular event is back on the antiques calendar for 2023. The National Botanic Garden of Wales played host to the Antiques and Vintage fair for over 10 years and then the pandemic happened and sadly the fair was postponed. However it’s now returning to the splendour of the Gardens on Saturday and Sunday, January 28 and 29, 2023 with the same quality stands , plus a few new faces.

National Botanic Garden of Wales Antiques Fair and Vintage Market
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Nestling in the Carmarthenshire countryside, on the outskirts of Carmarthen and just 15 minutes away from the end of the M4, the National Botanic Garden of Wales is conveniently situated.

The weekend of antiques is set to be a busy one. Derwen Fairs will be looking back at their past 10 years with pride but also looking forward to the future , with enthusiasm with up to 100 stands on display. The success of the fair has been mainly down to the diversity and quality of the antiques on display .

Fans of classic antiques should make their way to the various Garden venues – including the Great Glasshouse - for displays of Welsh art and pottery, quality jewellery and outstanding militaria collections.

National Botanic Garden of Wales Antiques Fair and Vintage Market
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Step next door to Principality House which is now known as Ty Melyn and discover displays of quality antique furniture, Welsh textiles, and a superb array of books, jewellery and silver.

Tucked away beside the Millennium Courtyard is the large marquee where you will find a large range of furniture, art glass and some vintage delights.

The recently transformed Theatr Botanica will be exhibiting old favourites such as silverware and collection of Moorcroft, Lorna Bailey, Beswick and Doulton, art and treen plus collections of quality Welsh furniture and textiles.

Millennium Courtyard will be filled with a Vintage Market housing smaller marquees displaying vintage toys, clothing, retro and upcycled furniture .

National Botanic Garden of Wales Antiques Fair and Vintage Market
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The fair has had a reputation for showcasing Welsh areas of collecting - including Welsh pottery, Welsh blankets, Welsh art and furniture. There will again be an amazing display of period Welsh oak furniture. From Welsh children's chairs, milking stools to much larger pieces including dressers and linen press cupboards, Richard Bebb’s collection of Welsh artists is impressive and a stand not to be missed.

Welsh pottery has also been keenly collected, especially rare examples of Llanelly pottery.

Alistair and Helen Crawford have built up a reputation of having an impressive stand that showcases rare Llanelly Pottery including the coveted Cockerel plates , that were produced in the Llanelli pottery.

The South Wales Pottery, usually referred to as Llanelly Pottery was a small commercial business, producing utility and decorative objects for a largely local market.

The importance of the South Wales Pottery factory in LLanelli cannot be understated in the history of Welsh ceramics. Beginning production in 1839, and closing in 1922, Llanelly outlasted all other Welsh ceramic companies. At its height, the company employed several hundred people in the West Wales town. Sadly nothing remains of the site and only a blue plaque marks the spot, near the shopping centre, of where once this impressive pottery stood.

A Llanelly Pottery cockerel plate
A Llanelly Pottery cockerel plate (Pic. supplied)

One of the most iconic images in Welsh fine art is the striking Llanelly ‘cockerel plate’. The single blue cockerel surrounded by a continuous sponged floral border, with a unique distinctive style. When you see a collection of cockerel plates grouped together, particularly on a Welsh dresser, the effect is stunning.

National Botanic Garden of Wales Antiques Fair and Vintage Market
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It is widely thought that most, if not all, of these cockerel plates where from the hand of Sarah Jane Roberts, affectionately known as ‘Aunt Sal’.

Aunt Sal worked at the Llanelly potteries for 40 years and she had ceramics in the blood. She was the daughter of a kiln-worker and three of her sisters, Annie, Margaret and Elizabeth, were also employed as pottery decorators at the site. Sal’s grandfather William Roberts, who died in 1845, was one of the many potters from Staffordshire who moved to Llanelly when William Chambers opened the South Wales Pottery business in 1839.

Pottery workers could be exposed to high quantities of lead which was used in glazes and mineral dust making them susceptible to conditions such as lead poisoning and silicosis. Was that responsible for the wasting illnesses that killed Sarah Jane Roberts and her sisters?

William Chambers’ family took residency in Llanelly House or ‘The Great House’ when they inherited the property from Sir John Stepney. William Chambers’ venture at Llanelly pottery produced earthenware every bit as good in quality as that of any of the larger Staffordshire outputs. The mainstay of the production was transfer items As production continued later in the nineteenth century, the pottery began to embrace hand-painted pottery.

Samuel Walter Shufflebotham is the other well-known decorator at Llanelly. He was employed at the pottery from 1908-1915. Shufflebotham’s subject matters were much more varied compared to Aunt Sal. Shufflebotham worked at Bristol and Torquay potteries but it is his Llanelly decoration that collectors look for. For years now the most desirable of all Welsh pottery has been by Samuel Shufflebotham, with signed pieces, which are rare as they were reserved for his family members, commanding huge sums.

However it’s the iconic Cockerel plates that catch the eye and remain as Llanelly Pottery's trademark. You can see that the decoration to each cockerel plate varies, with smudges and mis-centred decoration adding to the appeal. Alistair and Helen will be displaying these attractive plates alongside other rare pieces of pottery at the National Botanic Garden of Wales fair .

The fair will have a rich cross section of antiques and vintage on display, from jewellery, watches, books and silver , including ephemera, militaria and vintage clothes and accessories. There will also be collections of glass and upcycled and pre-loved furniture, plus interior design pieces including French brocante. Visitors will not be disappointed with the selection on offer at this popular fair.

National Botanic Garden of Wales Antiques Fair and Vintage Market
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Militaria will again be heavily represented at the fair with rare medals, ceremonial swords and suits of armour.

The fair opens at 10am and closes at 4.30pm

Admission is £10 for a weekend ticket, allowing you to enjoy two full days at the Antiques fair plus a further five days’ admission to the Garden. The tickets last for seven days, which is very good value. Dogs are now welcome over the Antiques weekend.

For more information contact Derwen Fairs on 07790 293367 or follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

National Botanic Garden of Wales Antiques Fair and Vintage Market
(Pic. supplied)