Our antiques expert, Allan Blackburn,recalls a time when a metaphorical phrase became reality...
Usually in my column, each week I feature an item, antique or collectable but this week I have to use my column to recognise a significant anniversary for us here at GB Antiques Centre.
In 2003 on May Bank Holiday Monday, a bull rampaged through our china department.
Two months later on 18th July this event was immortalized in sculpture.
A life size, fibre glass bull was placed above the entrance of GB Antiques and 15 years to the day later, he still stands proudly there, looking down at all our visitors coming through the doors!
I’m sure some of our readers will remember the story, as it made headline news the world over. With initial coverage in the local papers, the story went global and was even featured in news reports in America.
Some would say it was a public relations dream. Owning a china shop and having a bull run through it, is the stuff of media dreams, but the reality was very, very different.
The bull escaped from the nearby auction mart and entered the antiques centre via a loading bay. He ran amock through the centre, stampeding down the aisles causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.
He was eventually barricaded into a safe area with a pair of church organs. With everyone’s safety in mind, sadly, a decision was finally made to call police marksmen to shoot it.
As international media began to pick up the story, security camera footage plotting the bull’s course was screened across the world.
I appeared on BBC News 24, CNN and Sky News. I was also interviewed on South American, Canadian and European radio and television stations.
There was an incredible amount of interest in the “China Shop Bull” (as he was later to be know). Hundreds of visitors had seen the story and I wanted to have a lasting reminder.
It was a sad day for the bull, but we benefited with a huge increase in visitor numbers during the following months.
Since then, the bull has been used in all our marketing, represented as illustrations on our adverts or with photos of the sculpture.
We’re now known as the antiques centre that’s the “Home of the China Shop Bull” and even now all these years later, some of our American visitors actually enquire at the reception, before they come in, if they are in the right place!