Image above: Leigh Osborne at the new Chiswick Auctions premises in Barley Mow Passage
Chiswick Auctions is returning to its origins in the heart of Chiswick. The auction house, owned by Leigh Osborne, is now one of the biggest auction houses in London outside the big three (Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Bonhams) and has outgrown its current premises in Bollo Lane.
Leigh has been on the lookout for premises in central Chiswick for several years now, having grown the auction house from a hammer of £1 million (income from sales) when he bought it to that of £15 million now (he bought a half share in 2013 and took over sole ownership in 2019).
Though he is too diplomatic to say so in as many words, the premises on the industrial estate in south Acton do not quite convey the image to which he aspires. Not the kind of place you would imagine lots changing hands for upwards of £50,000. An Aladdin’s cave of the weird and wonderful, the rare and the beautiful once you step inside, from the outside the old premises look like the kind of place where ’80s TV wide boy Arthur Daley would have felt right at home.
Image above: Leigh Osborne at the gallery where the photographic preview is being shown
The new premises are much more fitting. Chiswick Auctions has taken over a large part of the Barley Mow office complex in Barley Mow Passage, giving them 3,000 square foot of space including the ground floor gallery (where the cafe used to be) offering the perfect viewing space.
It has huge glass windows, creating a light and airy space. It is opposite Voysey House in the attractive and much-filmed alley way, next door to Betty restaurant / bar. It offers sufficient storage and office space for 17 of the 20 specialist departments to move there. It is also a stone’s throw away from the building next to the Post Office where the auction house first started 30 years ago.
“We can be better than an industrial estate in Acton” Leigh tells The Chiswick Calendar. “It’s time to come back to Chiswick where we came from.
“We want to become part of the local community – to engage with local people more than we did in Acton. We plan to put on regular events every two weeks or so.”
“Excited” has become an grossly over-used social media adjective, but here is it apposite. Leigh is like a dog with two tails at the prospect of showing off his new auction rooms.
He is hoping to get more people through the door at the new auction house and perhaps younger people who have had no previous experience of auctions. He also says they will be able to offer better a customer experience there.
Having proved they can sell, what they really need is more items to sell.
Images: Lot 6, a Daguerrotype in the photography auction c 1850s; Lot 206, David Bailey instructing a model, 1960s; photograph by Terry O’Neill
19th and 20th Century photographs, 24 May
Their first event in the new premises is an exhibition of 19th and 20th century photographs, prior to auction, ranging from Daguerrotypes, work by Fox Talbot and his contemporaries, including photographs from paper negatives, to work by celebrity and fashion photographers Terry O’Neill, Guy Bourdin and David Bailey.
The exhibition of the work being sold was being hung by the auction house’s photography specialist Austin Farahar as we spoke. The new premises is now open, Monday – Friday from 10am – 4pm, Saturdays 11am – 4pm and we are invited to wander in and take a look round. Although the preview is at the Barley Mow centre until Saturday 21 May, the photography auction itself will take place on Tuesday 24 May at 11.30am at Colville Road, W3 8BL.
The last auction at the old premises will be on 19 July and then the auction house will take a break from sales over the summer while they complete the move and Leigh gets married to his long term partner Graham.
Once they hit September the place will be a whirlwind of activity, with 50 sales booked in already between September and Christmas.
While the specialist auctions will take place at the new premises in Barley Mow Passage from September, the Interiors auctions – the monthly auctions of everything from furniture to jewellery and toys – will continue to be held in Acton, in a 4,000 square foot warehouse behind the old premises in Bollo Lane in Roslin Square, W3.
The old Chiswick Auctions premises is being demolished to make way for a 30 storey block of flats but Chiswick Auctions will be “coming home” says Leigh,
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