HISTORIC A Fleming Antiques is calling it a day - and here are some amazing facts we’ve pulled together about the family-run business.
- On January 10, 1941, 300 German bombers made a concentrated attack on Portsmouth, killing 171 people, injuring 430 and leaving 3,000 homeless.
One of the buildings destroyed in the attack was A. Fleming Antiques in Castle Road, Southsea, run by brothers Jack and Alfred Fleming.
- Jack, who was commissioned into the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, got a signal informing him that his business was in ruins. But rather than ruing his misfortune, he was already thinking of how he could rebuild the business. He sent a message to a colleague to enquire whether the empty clock tower on the corner of Castle Street and Great Southsea Street had also been hit in the raid. Amazingly, with bombs destroying many of the buildings surrounding it, the tall landmark had remained intact. Jack quickly decided the clock tower was the perfect building to relocate his business and acquired the premises.
- Alfred, who served in the RAF as a bomber pilot, was recorded missing on active service in 1942, but when Jack returned the Southsea landmark became the business’s new home and it has remained there ever since.
- 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 with Royal Navy-style furnishings.
- The business had string of shops reaching from Portsmouth to Pall Mall in London, and a flourishing worldwide export business.
- The Clock Tower site was purchased by George Gale of Gales Brewery in 1902, but the first occupier of the clock tower was Ernest Smith, an antique dealer. The architect was Joseph Walmisley and the builder James Cockerill, a contractor of Victoria Road, Southsea.