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Revealed: antiques shop’s secret history

Memories of John and Yoko, and Michael X, as family business on the Holloway Road celebrates 40 years of trading

19 February, 2021 — By Helen Chapman

David Binder: ‘Forty years ago you could park the car outside on a Saturday with a settee on the roof and an armchair either side to attract people coming in’

AN antiques shop that is celebrating 40 years in Holloway Road has a collection worthy of museum status – but its owner says there’s even more to it than meets the eye.

If the walls of D & A Binder could speak, they would tell a story dating back to the 1970s when the building was home to civil rights activist Michael de Freitas – better known as Michael X.

A self-proclaimed revolutionary, Michael received donations from well-known figures such as Mohammed Ali and John Lennon to fund his vision of a community centre known as the Black House. It came to an end when Michael was hanged after being found guilty of murder in Trinidad in 1975.

Shop owner David Binder, 66, said John Lennon and Yoko Ono took a photo with Michael for a publicity stunt behind the building after their “bed-in” protest for peace in 1969.

Mr Binder outside the Holloway Road shop

Mr Binder, 66, who previously ran a shop in Marylebone before ­moving to 101 Holloway Road in 1980, said: “Michael X was involved in the Black House but he killed a woman, apparently in the flats above here. Maybe there’s a body in our garden somewhere, who knows? He did a runner but they caught him and they hung him.”

The family shop is run by Mr Binder and his son Josh, 34.

David said: “Forty years ago you could park the car outside on a Saturday with a settee on the roof and an armchair either side to attract people coming in. It was a big shop in a nice area and it suited me. We have doctors, architects and solicitors coming in and looking for stuff.”

D & A Binder also have a manufacturers in Norfolk where they make pieces with reclaimed materials. In the past they have done business with big brands such as Hackett and Ralph Lauren.

The shop buys Victorian antiques and items from the 1930s to 1960s.

Over the years they have sold shop fittings, counters and shirt cabinets to France, Japan and German – their biggest customers are in Italy.

But Mr Binder said 2021 spells uncertainty for the shop due to Brexit, adding: “We are a little bit worried because we haven’t done any business with the EU since January 1. In effect it will be like selling to America. It might cost an extra 5 per cent but we will have to swallow it.

“But if I’m honest, I’m scared. We have important business in the EU.

“We are probably the best people to come to for what we do. We are the market leaders in the shop-fitting business.”

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