It is with great sadness that we have to announce the passing of the market’s founder, Rodney Bolwell.
For many years a significant figure in London’s coin and stamp collecting world, Rodney started his first market in 1974 under the arches on Villiers Street. He quickly became known as a man with integrity and someone who could be counted on to act in the best interest of everyone involved as, for instance, when he charged traders nothing at all for the first three months to help get things off the ground. This certainly seemed to work and word spread quickly – at its peak, there were 150 stallholders there every week. The Charing Cross Collectors Market became a mainstay of the coin and stamp trade across the whole of the South of England and it was not uncommon for dealers from Europe and the United States to arrive at Heathrow on a Saturday and head straight there.
While he would go on to set up other offshoots in Hays Galleria and Tower Bridge, the trading forum at Charing Cross was always closest to his heart. Unfortunately, in the mid eighties, new development forced Rodney to move the operation. His bid for a place in the nearby shopping arcade was thwarted by an – ultimately baseless – counter bid and, well, that seemed to be that. Fortunately, the station master at London Bridge railway was sympathetic and his help was key to the market’s continuation on the station concourse in 1989. Yet he never gave up hope of returning to its original home in Charing Cross and in 1991 he began negotiating with the new managers of the Villiers Street site, Greycoat Accountants. Citing the Royal Charter enacted by Charles II that there had to be a market in the vicinity, he successfully argued that this was a legal entitlement and by April he, and his loyal band of traders, was back.
And they’re still very much there.
Through rain and shine, the good and the bad, Rodney’s collectors market has survived. Now under the forward looking stewardship of his daughter, Bridget, the ranks of the coin and stamp dealers have been supplemented by traders in militaria, postcards, autographs, ephemera and antiques. It continues to be a place where deals are struck, old acquaintances renewed and the passion for collecting ignited. There is no better tribute to him. RIP