Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Vintage @ Southbank - a flying visit

London's Southbank is probably one of my favourite places in the world, but I decided a while back not to get tickets for the Vintage @ Southbank last weekend. This was primarily because of the price and the fact it failed to sell itself to me in terms of what you got for that money. The trouble is, London has so much on offer for vintage types as it is, so I suppose the festival needed to offer something really special for the price, and I just wasn't convinced. When the reduced price offers started going around a week or so ago, I was far more tempted - but by then I had got myself booked out busy for pretty much the whole weekend.

On seeing that there were quite a few free things going on outside the Royal Festival Hall, I decided to squeeze a visit into the only two free hours I had all weekend - Sunday morning. So I got up early and headed up to Southbank for 11am.

Royal Festival Hall - the bit I didn't go in!

beach huts

Unfortunately I initially wandered off in the wrong direction along the riverside, but this did mean I got to discover some of the groovy new things that have been set up along there recently, including a roof garden and beach area. I also mooched around the beach huts exhibit outside, which was pretty cool, and included a hut full of vintage swimsuits and bizarrely, and to my excitement, a mention of my grandfathers company and something he invented in one of them.

Granddad gets a mention at the bottom

vintage swimsuits through a window in a beach hut

This took up about half an hour or so before I finally found the vintage market place. This was nicely set up but already crowded. It was a rather hot day and not great for browsing due to having fight past people to get to the stalls, so I didn't actually buy anything, but I was pretty impressed with the range of stalls they had attracted, and found several vendors that I took cards of to look into again at a later date.

vintage market place entrance

My favourite was probably 'Hilary's Vintage', who had a great selection of good quality vintage of the styles I like (1940s, 50s and 60s) but sadly she doesn't have an online presence, so all I could get from her was a list of vintage fairs she'll be at soon, so I'll probably try to track her down again at the Clerkenwell Vintage Fair in September.

shop fronts in the market place

I also liked the stall for giving me a bunch of cute postcards on the theme of 'Which Era are you', and signed up for their newsletter.  Hepburn and Leigh ( had some cute retro lingerie, and Miss Libby Rose (, based in Greenwich looks worth a visit to their store for not just their vintage inspired clothes but also their intriguing sewing and craft lessons and haberdashery. I also loved the Horrocks shop with its reproduction 1950s dresses and gorgeous bedlinen.


There was a rather lovely looking tea room set up that I desperately wanted to sample, but didn't really have enough time. Similarly it would have been fun to take advantage of the beauty boutiques, but I was much more focused on getting round everything. I particularly impressed by the vintage funfair set up to entertain the kids.

traditional fun fair

All in all, I found myself disappointed to have to leave as there was plenty more still to look around, and I certainly could have had an entertaining day in the market and along the southbank without needing to venture into the Royal Festival Hall itself.

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