It was freezing on Sunday but in true vintage gal style I wrapped up warm and headed off to my favourite flea market down at the Royal Bath & West Showground. It was the second one of the year but, very much unlike me, I missed the one in January. It was so good to go back after the long winter break and check out all the lovely odds and sods everyone was selling.
If you’ve never been to the Shepton Mallet one before, it is HUGE!! There are hundreds of stalls inside and out, with the furniture and bigger items throughout the massive area outside and smaller, more precious items on the two floors of the extensive main building. We never get around the entire thing and it annoys me every time that we may have missed out on the one thing I was looking for.
This time I was on the hunt for several things, mainly for lounge, such as a 1930s coffee table, a 1930s glass ceiling lamp shade and an Art Deco mirror. However, as usual these alluded me but I did end up spending a fortune, basically the money I’d saved for Camden and hadn’t spent!
The first thing I stumbled across was this beautiful vintage style lace parasol. It was shoved amongst lots of old 1970s and 80s umbrellas looking very unloved. I pulled it out and as I opened it I realised that it had never been used, it was absolutely pristine thanks to the original plastic cover still on it. Tentatively I asked the stall holder how much it was, expecting him to say about £30, however as he started looking around for his wife it became obvious he clearly had no clue. As she didn’t materialise he just said, “is 4 quid okay?”. Uh, yeah, thank you very much!
Just around the corner from this stall was a very well dressed man looking suspiciously like a 1930s enthusiast. As we neared his stall I quickly realised he was mostly selling items in Bakelite such as a beautiful lamp, a couple of radios, clocks and odd knick knacks. That was when I spotted two black Bakelite GPO phones sat proudly in front of the trestle table.
Now I’ve been searching for one of these for a while now, knowing I wanted one in the lounge to replace my incredibly modern one. There wasn’t a price on either so I approached the stall holder and asked him what they were, holding my breath in case they were well out of my price range. I’ve seen a lot of them on eBay and the average cost is about £120, so I knew this would be the maximum I would go to. “One is £75 and the other is £65 because it has a strange connector on it.” Ahhh, are you kidding me?
I started checking over the £75 one for cracks, knocks and any missing bits but saw none, so was suspicious it wasn’t fully converted for modern lines. After a quick chat with the guy he said it was fine and that he’d tested it himself. I was very tempted. Then he asked us if we’d been to his museum and, after receiving blank stares, he revealed that he owns and runs the Bakelite museum in Williton, Somerset! What this guys doesn’t know about Bakelite isn’t worth knowing. However, I did walk away from the phone at this point because it was really early in the day and we’d barely made a dent in the rest of the stalls. I said I’d be back at the end of the day if I still had money left.
After doing one section of the outside area the sun disappeared and the bitter cold wind started whipping around us so we decided to go inside. We looked around a small part of the downstairs area before heading upstairs to the restaurant because our tummies were rumbling. After refueling with an enormous roast dinner we hit the upstairs stall where I spotted one of my favourite regular stall holders who sells lots of vintage fabrics, haberdashery bits and pieces, and a good selection of vintage clothes.
I instantly picked up several pieces of fabric I really like but ended up settling for these two, both £5 each. The spotty one is a white and navy silk with a beautiful sheen on it and is about 2 metres long, although it is quite narrow. There’s probably just enough to make a long sleeved blouse and I’m thinking about sleeves like this. The other piece I believe is rayon crepe in navy, white and green and is a much smaller piece, probably just enough for a shell top with flutter sleeves.
Then I spotted this stunning 1930s kick pleat skirt on her rails for £28. I immediately fell in love but pretty much convinced myself it wasn’t going to fit. Not wanting to traipse all the way back to the restaurant toilets to change I slipped it on over my trousers. It did up and it seemed to fit but I couldn’t find a mirror! Why sell clothes and not have a mirror?!!! Two ladies stopped and said it looked really lovely and my mum was gushing over it, so I decided to bite the bullet and just buy it (she reduced the three things so they were £32 all together). I’ve never done that before. Ever!
Anyway, once I got home and could see it properly I knew I’d made the right choice. It fits really well and the only thing I have to do it is take out this rather odd pleat just underneath the waistband at the centre back. It adds far too much fabric around the derriere and hips for me. Having looked closely at it, I know it’s handmade and it’s definitely original 1930s, there’s no denying it with the techniques they’ve used. I also have a very strong suspicion that it’s feedsack fabric but having never seen genuine feedsack in real life I’m not 100% sure. If anyone knows a way I can confirm this I’d be very grateful.
After wandering around the rest of the inside we realised people were beginning to pack up and I started to panic. The Bakelite telephone had been calling to me the whole way round and in my head I’d decided it was mine. We made a dash back outside and to my horror most of the stalls were gone. I panicked as we came around the corner and I kept repeating “he’s going to be there, he’s going to be there”! Thankfully, to my huge relief, he still was. He’d decided to wait until the end just in case he got another sale. And he did. Mine!
I’m so chuffed with it. I plugged it in the minute I got home and it works perfectly. I adore the beautiful ringing of the bells inside and it even crackles a little bit every now and again. How authentic is that?! I love the fact that it has the Call Exchange button on it and a pull out drawer at the bottom for your important phone numbers to go. I’m going to get a new phone number display done by a guy I discovered on eBay with my own details on it, however, I do love that it has an Oxford number on it now as that’s only up the road from me.
This particular telephone is the 312 model from 1956 which usually goes for between £220 to £290 depending on condition and features. I got myself a bargain! I know it’s not authentically 1930s but quite frankly the 200 series phones from that period are way out of my league price wise so I’m completely happy with what I’ve got.
Have you ever been to Sheptom Mallet flea market before? Or is there another one I’m missing out on elsewhere?