Antiques shop to close after half a century as popular couple retires

A Shropshire couple described as ‘community champions’ are closing their antiques business after more than half a century and retiring to South Wales.

Peter and Lynne Davies are closing White Lion Antiques in Ellesmere after more than half a century. Picture: David Atkinson
Peter and Lynne Davies are closing White Lion Antiques in Ellesmere after more than half a century. Picture: David Atkinson

Scores of well-wishers have paid tribute Peter and Lynne Davies who have played an active role in Ellesmere since moving to the town from Manchester.

Their Market Street shop, White Lion Antiques, is housed in a centuries-old former coaching inn, which has also been their home for many years.

It opened in 1970, when Mr Davies’s mother, Dorothy Wheeldon, moved her business to Ellesmere from Ironbridge.

He and his wife joined her several years later, with Mrs Davies becoming an ‘apprentice,’ while her husband, a former steelworks manager, carried out furniture restoration.

“I’d been interested in antiques since I was a teenager,” said Lynne, “but my mother-in-law taught me so much more about buying and selling, pricing and valuations".

She was a real expert and she was so supportive in passing on her knowledge and expertise to me before she passed away.”

As the business expanded the couple opened a coffee shop within the premises and attracted a regular clientele from a wide area, including international opera star Joan Carlyle.

It operated for several years during the 1990s.

Mr Davies became a founder member of Ellesmere Rotary Club and helped to establish the town’s Probus Club.

He was also involved in charity fundraising through events such as the Ellesmere Regatta.

As a devoted rugby union enthusiast, he continued playing until he was 67 and has long been an active member of Oswestry RFC where he is a vice-president.

For many years he refereed matches at Ellesmere College and, having served in the Royal Navy, he became a naval officer and helped to lead its Combined Cadet Force.

His wife spent 11 years as a North Shropshire district councillor, served as a cabinet member and was a member of Ellesmere Town Council until 2017.

She is a former governor at Welshampton Primary School. For more than 40 years she has been busily involved in fundraising as a committee member with the Ellesmere branch of Save the Children.

With other retailers, she helped to establish the town’s Chamber of Trade, which now operates as the Chamber of Commerce.

Peter and Lynne Davies are closing White Lion Antiques in Ellesmere after more than half a century. Picture: David Atkinson

Now, with Mr Davies approaching 87, the couple are holding a closing down sale before moving to a new home at Llantwit Major on the South Wales coast, so they can be closer to their four children.

“We’ve loved living in Ellesmere and being part of this wonderful community,” said Mrs Davies. "We’re very grateful for the support we’ve had from our customers and for all the kind messages we’ve received since announcing our retirement. Leaving here is going to be an enormous wrench and we’re doing it with heavy hearts, but we feel it’s the right time to begin a new chapter.”

Looking back, she says the antiques trade has changed enormously in recent years.

She said: “Television programmes have certainly helped to generate a lot of interest, but they often give the wrong impression by suggesting that you can buy everything on the cheap just by bartering.”

For several years she shared her knowledge by writing a regular antiques column for a magazine.

One of her best sales involved a Victorian book of lithographic images of the Russian city of St Petersburg which had been valued locally at around £200.

But Mrs Davies was convinced it was worth much more, and after she took it to the top London auction house, Christie’s, the book was sold for more than £9,000.

“That sort of thing doesn’t happen very often,” she said, “but when it does, you get a great feeling.”

Most Read

Most Read

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News