End of an era as Southsea antiques dealers closes after 108 years

Alfred Fleming, 74, who is calling time on A. Fleming (Southsea) Ltd in Castle Road, after it has traded for 108 years Picture: Sarah Standing (151966-4464)
Alfred Fleming, 74, who is calling time on A. Fleming (Southsea) Ltd in Castle Road, after it has traded for 108 years Picture: Sarah Standing (151966-4464)
Wolf Alice

Wolf Alice present Visions Of A Life in all its variety

  • Customers have included British and Ethiopian royalty
0
Have your say

ITS customers included Ethiopia’s Emperor and British royalty.

And the expert knowledge on vintage gems made it the go-to place for antiques in Portsmouth.

Alfred Fleming's grandfather who was also called Alfred and started the business

Alfred Fleming's grandfather who was also called Alfred and started the business

But, after 108 years, antiques firm A Fleming is calling it a day.

The business has been a fixture in Castle Road, Southsea, for as long as anyone can remember and has occupied the Clock Tower after the old premises were flattened by a German Luftwaffe bomb in 1941.

Alfred Fleming, 74, his wife Christel and one of their employees, Jayne Collingwood, raised a toast yesterday as they enjoyed their last ‘staff lunch’.

Mr Fleming carried on the family legacy started by his grandfather Alfred Fleming, who founded the business in 1908.

The staff outside A Fleming (Southsea) Ltd on March 23, 2005 when part of the building was sold to Tony Wood Hairdressing

The staff outside A Fleming (Southsea) Ltd on March 23, 2005 when part of the building was sold to Tony Wood Hairdressing

‘There’s mixed feelings,’ said Mr Fleming, who lives on Hayling Island.

‘It’s a family business with three generations. There’s can’t be many family businesses that have survived three generations.

‘We have been in the same road for 108 years and only moved once – 50 yards – when we were bombed out of the original building. Over the years we have had some lovely customers.’

The business has been run by appointment-only from the basement of the Clock Tower since 2005.

It stood as the last outpost of what was once a mini-empire, which had included a string of shops reaching from Portsmouth to Pall Mall in London, and a flourishing worldwide export business.

The shop was once a favourite of King George V’s wife, Mary, who would peruse the store in search of collectables during the 1920s.

One of their customers was the last Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, who had his naval headquarters kitted out with Royal Navy-style furnishings.

At one point there were seven cabinet makers working for the business.

The founder, Alfred Fleming, died in 1932 and the business was carried on by his sons, Jack and Alfred. In the 1960s Jack was joined by his son-in-law John Maclean and the present owner, his nephew Alfred.

‘Certainly it’s the end of an era, but all good things must come to an end,’ said Mr Fleming.

‘We are looking forward to spending more time with the grandchildren.’