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I s s u e Th r e e


!ustic retreat


Wood cabin cool at Firefly

£4.99 I S S U E

9 772397 041003

3 • J U N E




C4’s Restoration Man on reclaimed spaces

Unique sculptures made from junk

Inside the world of Retrouvius

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Reclaimed World is a small family business who take great pride in their dedication to saving English Architectural Treasures. We have created a relaxing environment where buying is a pleasure on our 3 acre reclamation yard, with two showrooms full of unusual treasures and unique items for your home, business or interior design project. Whether it is antiques, vintage collectibles, or quirky items that stand out from the rest, there is something for everyone.

We have managed to reclaim this fabulous 1930’s walnut panelling from and old Ballroom which was originally fitted by craftsmen. We have also salvaged the most wonderful selection of lights also dating back to the 1930’s.

Reclaimed World specialize in hardwood flooring. Recently we have managed to salvage a vast quantity of beautiful English Oak which was destined to be made into whisky barrels. The 100 year old barrel making company had air dried and stored this oak since 1972, making it such a rare find!

Tarporley Road, Little Budworth. Cheshire CW6 9ES Office: 01829 760288 Keith: 07584 046770 Jeff: 07740 762029 Opening Times: Monday to Saturday: 09.00 – 5.00 Sunday: CLOSED – just a click away

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Unique interiors that tell stories In this issue of Reclaim, we meet some remarkable people who are passionate about working with reclaimed materials. From the ingenious designer and maker Paul Firbank, otherwise known as The Rag and Bone Man, who creates bespoke lighting from scrap metal, to Maria Speake and Adam Hills, the owners of salvage emporium and interior design service Retrouvius, these people are driven by a genuine desire to creatively reuse items others would discard. Reclaim applauds and celebrates their passion. They’re not alone in their brilliance. In this, our third issue, the pages are brimming with incredible design talent. You’ll find a fascinating interview with Paul Parry of Bad Dog Designs, who impressed the managing director of Liberty with his stunning steampunk clocks, and with Hayley Saunders of Rust Bucket Workshop whose delightful ‘junk’ sculptures fill us with joy. It’s these unique items that inject story and charm into a home. We’re delighted to have had a fascinating conversation with architect and TV presenter George Clarke, and to have met traditional signwriter Joby Carter of Carters Steam Fair, who is leading a resurgence in the art of signwriting. You’ll find a review of the Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair and an interview with the inspired interior designer who transformed a pigsty into Firefly, the luxury retreat on the cover of the magazine. And if, after dipping into the magazine, you’re in the mood to tackle an upcycling project at home, don’t miss colour expert Annie Sloan’s tips on working with vintage furniture. There’s so much more too. From the finest decorative salvage and brilliantly repurposed vintage crockery, to a glimpse into the world of Europe’s antiques shops and markets with the Antiques Diva, we hope Reclaim magazine will inspire you to create a unique home with intriguing stories to tell. AMY BRATLEY EDITOR 5


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08 RECLAIM EDIT A few of our favourite things 14 A DESIGN FOR LIFE Superb style at Retrouvius 34 THE INTERVIEW George Clarke on reclaimed spaces 48 THE DYING ART OF SIGNWRITING Carters vintage fair signwriter saving the art 64 LIGHTS, CAMERA, RECLAMATION! A-list artefacts at English Salvage 72 FAKING IT Does new copyright law affect you? 106 SIGNS OF LIFE Enamel signs to collect 128 INSPIRING READS Reclaim’s top five books




INTERIORS 38 THE WOODCUTTER’S CABIN Storybook style at Firefly Cottage 54 THE LIGHT BRIGADE In search of historic lighting 74 CAMPAIGN TRAILS Tales of travelling furniture 80 THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED Luxury living in a converted truck 92 BRUSH UP Upcycling projects with Annie Sloan



22 PLATE UP Vintage china redesigned 46 CATCH OF THE DAY Deep sea treasures

DESIGNER AND MAKER 26 ANY OLD IRON The ingenious Rag and Bone Man 58 HITTING THE BIG TIME Steampunk clockmaker Paul Parry 96 INTO THE WOOD Reclaimed decor by Modish Living 100 NUTS AND BOLTS Rust Bucket’s joyful junk art


i n s p i r e d i n t e r i o r s • u n i q u e d e s i g n • s a lva g e t r e n d s • v i n ta g e s t y l e


I s s u e Th r e e


!ustic retreat


Wood cabin cool at Firefly

£4.99 I S S U E

9 772397 041003

3 • J U N E





C4’s Restoration Man on reclaimed spaces

Unique sculptures made from junk

Inside the world of Retrouvius

2 0 1 6

88 FUN AT THE FAIR Inside the Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair 110 DESIGNS OF THE TIME Peer into a post-war apartment 114 TREASURE HUNT Travel Europe with the Antiques Diva 120 BED, BATH AND BEYOND Inspired interior design in Bath

80 SUBSCRIBE TODAY Turn to page 53 for details 7


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Mobo Rocking Horse Light, Shed Boutique

!eclaim has sought out the finest reclaimed and repurposed items for your home. From vintage goods and antique treasures to luxury upcycled designs, here are a few of our favourite finds


Designer and maker Kevin Green, of Shed Boutique, has sourced a 1950s British made Mobo rocking horse and stripped, polished and upcycled it into a unique light. You can get your hands on a horse light at Kevin’s newly opened quirky furniture shop on West Cliff Road in Ramsgate, that he runs with partner Lucy. l £695, shedboutique@

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Leather Patcher Singer Machine, English Salvage The perfect showpiece for a sewing room or studio, this reclaimed original Singer 29K3 vintage leather patcher machine from English Salvage has a stand and bears the Singer Manufacturing Co Ltd logo. l £295,



Once an old paraffin spirit container, dating from the 1950s or 1960s, this reminder of decades past has been upcycled into homeware to light up your life. l £265,


‘Esso Blue’ Lamp, The Old Cinema

Letter ‘T’, On The Square Emporium T is for... tempted by this brilliant letter sign, dating from the 1960s and sourced from an old factory in East Belfast. The sign is 150cm high and 70cm wide, making it an impressive statement piece for your home. l £85, 9


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The Marchena Chair, Galapagos Designs Who wouldn’t make a beeline for this beauty? A vintage 1950s Marchena cocktail chair has been reupholstered in Parris Wakefields’s British-made cotton velvet in ‘Fierce Beauty’. You can rest easy knowing that the company uses environmentally sound internal materials, which degrade naturally at the end of their useful life. l £695,

It’s hard to tear your eyes away from this beautiful shadow box of strange old miniature things. From buttons and tiddlywinks, to marbles and tiny tins, it’s a collection of curiosities. l £590,


Shadow Box, Spencer Swaffer

Vintage Tea Canister Lamps, Original House ©ORIGINAL"HOUSE

Sourced in India, these canisters were used for storing all kinds of things, from nails to spices. The clever chaps at Original House have converted them into table lamps, fully rewired and PAT tested. l From £230,



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Well Heeled Foot Light, Nice Anubis Artist and maker Mel Winning makes functional art works from broken mannequins, giving new life to pieces destined for landfill. Mel creates lighting, tables and clocks, and we particularly love this delightful light. Nice legs! l Price on application,


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Mauro Manetti Pineapple Ice Bucket, The Mint List


You can almost taste the cocktail waiting to be made when you look at this authentic Mauro Manetti Pineapple Ice Bucket by The Vintage Trader. Italian and from the 1970s, this cool piece of kit is highly collectable. l £495, The Vintage Trader at


A head-turner if ever we’ve seen one, this 1930s cast iron horse’s head has original paint layers and is mounted onto a custom made burnished steel base. By Marc Kitchen-Smith at LASSCO Ropewalk. l £950,

Vintage Architects/Artists Plan Drawers, English Salvage Evoking images of studious architects hard at work on their plans, English Salvage notes that this reclaimed vintage pine chest for storing drawings or art would make a great kitchen unit. Or, if you’re an artist - a perfect place for your work. l £975,



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Cabinet, Purple Finch


Got a tired old piece of furniture that needs a makeover? Let MJ at The Purple Finch work her magic with her paintbrush. Specialising in the artistic re-design of unloved furniture, commission her to create something beautiful such as this dreamy cabinet. l Contact MJ at


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(left) The design studio at Retrouvius.

he evangelical spirit of saving things is primary to our love of this business,’ Adam Hills tells me when I meet him and his business partner (and wife) Maria in Retrouvius’ shop on the Harrow Road in London. To merely call this building a shop, however, is underselling it – it’s more like a massive, curated cavern hewn from reclaimed materials with the Retrouvius’ designers and admin staff beavering away in nooks and crannies like characters in a Beatrix Potter book. (Mrs Tiggywinkle in her house built into the side of a hill with a clothesline made of bracken stems perhaps. Adam and Maria would surely approve!) The couple met studying architecture at Glasgow School of Art in the late 1980s and bonded over a love of nosing around tenements earmarked for demolition and skulking around skips. Adam has ancient edifices and artefacts in the blood: ‘My grandmother was a collector of snuff boxes, my great aunt was a museum curator and my father’s an architect so there’s a linear heritage there,’ he says. As for Maria, she remembers childhood days ‘schlepping around English Heritage sites, jumping over crumbling monasteries and visiting Walcot Architectural Salvage in Bath with my mother.’ In Glasgow in the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was certainly plenty of schlepping to be done with lots of grand buildings, reminders of the city’s mercantile past, earmarked for demolition. And, with health and safety not what it is today, sneaking in was relatively easy... ‘We used to drive to various ruined buildings with our friends at weekends. We’d climb through a window and poke around inside and it was wonderful,’ Maria says. ‘We’d spot a dilapidated stable building on the side of a remote loch and imagine what it must have been to live there. Studying architecture is very conceptual – buildings are reduced to line drawings – but we wanted to get out there and feel the bricks and smell the earth.’


Maria and Adam graduated in 1993 and, while their contemporaries travelled to Berlin and Singapore where the majority of the architecture jobs were back then, started Retrouvius as an adventure in architectural salvage in Glasgow. Obviously they needed to earn a living from it but: ‘We didn’t think of it wholly from a business perspective,’ Maria says. ‘It was more about saving these beautiful period elements – doors and fireplaces and escutcheons – and reusing them locally.’ In 1997, Maria and Adam relocated to London and in


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Maria and Adam’s Style Secrets: Adam says: ‘Brown mahogany Victorian furniture is a bargain. It’s deeply unfashionable but that’s about to change. Now it’s unloved and cheap but it’s well made and a finite resource so it will come back in.’ Maria: ‘I’m a big fan of textiles. I’ve always loved tapestries, right from 14th century ones up to the 20th century. They do brilliant things in houses acoustically; they generate unusual colour schemes and have a huge impact. Most of the great artists have produced tapestries and, in comparison to their paintings, they are dirt cheap.’


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(right) Pendant light shades have impact when hung in bunches.

1999 Retrouvius moved to its present home, a dark, dank warehouse that was full of rats and rotting mattresses when Adam first nosed around, illuminating his way with a cigarette lighter. When the shop that fronted the warehouse came up for sale the two buildings were spliced together and now face the world with a crazy-paving style store front of higgledy-piggledy vintage copper light windows. Inside, the showrooms evolve constantly as items are sold. The dark wood stiff backed chairs on which I sit to interview Maria and Adam will go to a new home and be replaced as part of an ever shifting cycle of recycling. That’s Adam’s domain; he’s treasure hunter in chief while Maria now heads up Retrouvius’ design operations and is highly sought after.


‘In a sense Adam and I now do the opposite of each other,’ Maria says. ‘Adam’s on the demolition sites taking things apart and I’m on the building projects putting them back together. To be honest, I wasn’t that brilliant on demolition sites. I was forever removing something and breaking a water pipe. They can be quite overpowering places, like a massive Joseph Beuys art work. The way that a structure can be so quickly crumpled and ruined always felt very violent to me. But the main reason I got into the design side was because of a frustration at how the trade was using reclaimed materials. I worked with various architects and, in the early days, the salvaged materials we used almost went in by stealth. We’d tell the builders and the clients that these huge bits of teak were from such and such a hospital and that nobody would know they were salvage. So we were almost apologising, because architectural salvage wasn’t a trend, back then. But I realised how deeply our clients were drawn to the stories of where these materials had come from. They were drawn to the patina and the history and now, of course, salvage is

fashionable. And while that’s great in many ways, (builders aren’t scared to use it any more for one), my concern is that reclaim’s being treated like an aesthetic veneer that’s trendy and people aren’t getting the real point of it, which is that it’s about reusing materials and cutting down on waste.’ Adam agrees: ‘In Westfield, 70% of the fashion stores, say, use some reclaimed pieces in their decor, be that floorboards or mid-century modern furniture. But in five years time, something else will be fashionable; Perspex or whatever. So, while we don’t want to be too warrior about it, we’ll say to shop owners who buy our salvage: ‘When you have a re-fit let us know so we can buy it back’.’ Adam certainly relishes his role of custodian and curator. ‘The dealer instinct is very strong in me,’ he says, ‘and that isn’t all around making a profit. It can be from a good fluid deal or snatching something from the jaws of destruction. 19

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My ‘ concern is that reclaim’s being treated like an aesthetic veneer that’s trendy and people aren’t getting the real point of it, which is that it’s about reusing materials and cutting down on waste.’ And I like the variety of things I see. From day one, people were telling us we had to specialise but I knew my attention span wouldn’t hold out for that. This afternoon I’m going to a stonemason’s yard where they’re selling off a whole load of granite. Personally I hate granite but that’s not going to stop me salvaging it and selling it on because it shouldn’t go into landfill. Let’s find someone who wants it.’


(above) The Retrouvius warehouse.

With Maria’s ever-growing list of clients that shouldn’t be a problem. The couple’s book Reclaiming Style features homes she’s designed from a Barbican flat to a former factory and a garden cabin. The couple’s own 1973 Modernist flat, which they share with their two young sons, is included – teak floorboards salvaged from an army barracks adorn the kitchen while the shower room is built from fossil limestone which Adam rescued from Heathrow Terminal 2. ‘I move through different property types on my projects,’ Maria says. ‘A design’s a massive commitment and can take a minimum of a year. I don’t want to grow bored, so I’ll do a city flat and then a Medieval priory; urban followed by rural and Victorian after Georgian. I’ve just completed an apartment in Paris where the owner was British so he wanted elements of familiarity and Englishness in the space while retaining its French feel. I like a challenge!’ But, at the heart of what Maria does, whether she’s designing Bella Freud’s new knitwear shop or a floating guesthouse, is the passion for preservation which drew her and Adam together nearly three decades ago. ‘I don’t let clients chuck anything in the skip,’ she laughs. ‘They might tell me they’re bored of the oak floor they laid in the kitchen ten years ago and I’ll tell them okay, that’s fine. But we won’t throw it . We’ll move it somewhere else in their home and reuse it in a different way. Normally I win!’

!Retrouvius, 1016 Harrow Road, Kensal Green, London, NW10 5NS; Stock queries: 0208 960 6060; Design queries: 0208 960 8676 Reclaiming Style by Maria Speake and Adam Hills is published by Ryland Peters and Small, RRP £19.99


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Tricks of the Trade:

A stunning selection of salvage stock including a 1950s wall mirror, (left), £175 + VAT and butterfly display boxes, (below) from £125 + VAT.

Adam says: ‘Don’t rush into a decision. Running round an antiques fair people can get carried away with the spirit, then get their purchases home and they’re not quite right. If you have bought something and it’s wrong, sell it on, even if you make a loss. The problem with salvage comes when people try and cram every idea they’ve ever had into their home and it resembles a junk shop. So clear out any mistakes and don’t worry. Dealers get it wrong occasionally too!’ Maria says: ‘Often people see bare empty walls, panic and hang a painting there but artwork is getting more expensive. Most people can’t afford something amazing, so put a texture there instead. Tiling walls, for example, is brilliant. Don’t be afraid to use lots of tiles, on a big scale for real impact. Or a bit of rusty old metal can be dramatic. Don’t be frightened that’s the thing. Working with salvage I’ve become drawn to quite rich intense materials and colours. All that beige, well, it’s very calming, I suppose, but rich colours can be calming too. Be bold and don’t feel that because something’s been bought as salvage you have to change or restore it in some way. If a material or a piece of furniture looks good as it is, leave it as it is.’ 21

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’I love the way the unique context and frame of each vintage plate inspires my designs. A new excitement and challenge every time - there is nothing else quite like it!’ Debbie Carne, Alijoedesigns



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Plate Up


Vintage china plates left to collect dust have been upcycled by these talented designers and given a new, decorative lease of life

The queen of crockery quirk, Debbie Carne of Alijoedesigns rescues old vintage china plates and transforms them, to serve up a witty, contemporary twist to the classic decorative plate. Leaning towards the surreal, Debbie draws inspiration from a variety of sources including the likes of Savignac, Pop Art, Terry Gilliam and Schwitters, to create whimsical plates that make you smile. Blabbermouth, £55, Making The Cut, £40, Wine On Tap, £50, As Seen On TV, £55, 23


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For homespun happiness on a plate, check out designer Lisa Rushton’s upcycled vintage homeware. Rummaging in charity shops and at car boot sales to find the perfect vintage plates to upcycle, Lisa Rushton of Heart Vintage creates unique and heartwarming wall art. Giving forgotten pieces new life by upcycling them with her own art, messages and personal photos, Lisa also creates bespoke pieces. Flying Birds, £25,

By screenprinting unusual images onto vintage dishware, Dutch designer Esther Derkx gives discarded crockery a thrilling and eye-catching new image. Esther works with all kinds of crockery, from teapots and plates to cups and saucers, developing collections that she sells in shops, online and exhibits in galleries. This month, she’s exhibiting at the huge furniture trade fair, Salone Internazionale Del Mobile, in Milan, which attracts over 300,000 visitors!

Melody Rose designer Melanie Roseveare launched her upcycled crockery collection in 2011, inspired by her love of vintage ceramics. Combining quaint with quirky, Melanie redesigns each piece and refires them in the kiln, which means these beautiful plates are not just decorative, but can be used every day to serve up your favourite dish! Vintage Girl, £36, Vintage Birdcage, £35, Vintage Skull, (Blue), £35, Vintage Skull, (Yellow), £35,

Improved! Pastry Plates, 22 euro (approx £17),



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‘I Discovered scrap yards and BEGAN TO LOOK AT SCRAP IN A DIfferent way. salvage yards became the boxes of lego of my childhood in giant form.’

(right) Paul in his Margate workshop.

Paul, what started you on this road? I started to play with metal 18 years ago, on a welding and engineering course. I then worked as a welder in manufacturing for a short while making shelves, but lost interest as it was too repetitive for my short attention span! Outside of work, I repaired and customised vehicles for years, and after multiple and varied jobs including plastering and tattooing, I returned to my roots in welding in the form of bespoke picture framing, where I was given the freedom to experiment and master different metal finishing techniques and develop new designs. I ran a small team of welders and metal finishers making picture frames for galleries and museums around the world for four years. It was creative and challenging but unfortunately not financially rewarding so I started to create and exhibit artwork and lighting for some shows in London. The lighting sold well so my partner Lizzie and I decided to invest some savings accumulating materials and tools, to set up a small workshop. We worked hard in our spare time to build enough stock and develop an online presence and committed to launch at Tent London 2011. We sold out by the third day and so, with Lizzie’s support, I took the plunge and left the day job to develop The Rag and Bone Man. Why do you focus on using salvage? I have always loved metal for its strength and longevity, without it we would still be in the Stone Age. Using salvage or scrap just seemed to make sense, as we couldn’t afford ‘off the shelf’ materials. I discovered scrap yards and began to look at scrap in a different way. I guess salvage yards became the boxes of Lego of my childhood in giant form. When I thought about it in the right

way I opened my eyes to the endless possibilities. I began to love the history and previous life of the components I was reworking, which made me lust after the rarer and more prestigious pieces. The challenges of joining and reworking the material I find leads me on a continual journey of learning new skills and methods to realise my designs. What salvage do you prefer? We tend to use lots of engine components mainly pre 1970s as it was probably generally more well made, and pieces of aircraft because of the quality of material. We look for materials that have stood the test of time as we can be confident that they will continue to do so in their reimagined form, and function for years to come. Lizzie and I have started to source more rare components. I try to respect and restore the heritage of each piece and prefer to use existing holes for fixing and joining. Lizzie and I have a different eye for shapes and their potential (which often leads to great discussion about the possibility of joining metal!). Working with one of our customers it took us


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(below) Beetle club chair, £3500 (centre) Bespoke wall clock (right) Golf club hangers,£130


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(right) Basket pendant, £320 (below right) Bar stool, from £950


‘i have more ideas than time will allow, but i’m gradually making time to bring some of these to life.’

(far right) Conrod bottle opener, £95 (right) Floor globe light, £1650 31

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‘it’s not every day that you are asked to chop up a 200 seater, end-of-life passenger aircraft.’

over one year to find a matching c.1920s Rolls Royce rocker cover to complete a pair of front of house statement desk lights. We’ve made several large scale chandeliers from c.1940s radial engines and have just received a 1942 prototype de Havilland jet engine into the workshop, which we’ll be using for a chandelier commission for a high profile restaurant in East London.

See Paul in action at theragandboneman.

How do your creations come about? Most of the time a shape or object will suggest its own potential new role. I love working with aluminium fire extinguishers, as I can easily source them, they are well made and – with the correct skills and the right tools and equipment – they can be modified and shaped so that they are unrecognisable in comparison to their original function. It can be frustrating when I find an object that is perfect for its new role but that I know will be near impossible to find again. So, as a result, we recently launched a range of pendant lights called ‘Found to Foundry’ where we celebrate some of our favourite assembled and modified shapes, which are then cast in a British Foundry, that specialises in automotive restorations. Where does all this happen? Our first workshop was in Hackney. We were out of space within the first year but we struggled on until we were able to expand when we moved down to Margate in 2014. When we moved we found ourselves literally shovelling metal into our van; metal was in the garden, hallway and lounge and anywhere I could find to hide it. I can’t believe I got away with it for so long! Our workshop in Margate was ten times the size of our place in London. I have now hoarded enough raw materials to need an even larger space, which we have found up the road in Cliftonville. We are still in London regularly sourcing material and meeting clients and suppliers there. In Margate there’s a fast growing community of ‘creatives’ all bouncing ideas off each other and skill swapping. There are some of the best ‘junk shops’ I have ever been to and we are in good company with some of the most established designers in the UK, who are also well known

for transforming the under-loved and overlooked, such as Rupert Blanchard and Zoe Murphy. Where can we see your work? We stock our gift items in London at the Bike Shed in Shoreditch and regularly exhibit as part of the London Design Festival. We have a retailer in Taipei and Sydney with more to be announced soon, and we also have a lighting contractor and distributor in Manchester. What projects are you particularly proud of? I’m proud of everything that leaves the workshop; if not it won’t be leaving. We have just worked on a BBQ restaurant in Singapore with a set of 15 of our heaviest bar stools and complimentary lighting, and are thrilled to have been involved as a collaborator in the Old Clare Hotel in Sydney with over 100 pieces of work incorporated into the interior. One of my favourite projects was the reclining chair made for the first series of Kevin McCloud’s Man Made Home. We were given a grey TE20 Ferguson to transform, however the components we had bet on were so corroded you could poke your finger through. We had to rethink everything, which ultimately led to a satisfying result. We loved being involved as one of the lead designers on Kevin’s Supersized Salvage for Channel 4. It’s not every day that you are asked to chop up a 200 seater end-of-life passenger aircraft, and we continue to make some of the designs today. We love your lights, will you also do more furniture? We make lots of lights and people always need lighting, but I really love working on larger pieces as it normally involves some collaboration with fellow craftsmen and designers. We have recently launched our first club chair made from classic VW Beetle bonnets. I have more ideas than time will allow but I’m gradually making time to bring some of these to life. Your workshop must be one of your favourite places. If not there, where would we find you? If I’m not at the workshop I’m restoring our Edwardian terrace house in Cliftonville in Margate. Funnily enough we don’t own much furniture and I’m enjoying working with Lizzie on our own interior for the first time to create what we need. ! Get your hands on the goods at


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RECLAIMED SPACES GEORGE CLARKE DISCUSSES ECCENTRIC SHEDS AND THE ULTIMATE RECYCLING PROJECTS ! OLD BUILDINGS ! WITH EMMA CAULTON We’re looking forward to the new series of Channel 4’s Amazing Spaces Shed of the Year. What was the inspiration behind the competition? Before the Cuprinol Shed of the Year competition there was the website set up by Andrew Wilcox (aka Uncle Wilco) in 2001, allowing people to show off what they had in their gardens (a bit like readers wives but classier) and inspiring the rest of us. By 2006 the website was so popular Uncle Wilco came up with the idea of a competition and Shed of the Year and National Shed Week was born. In July 2007 the first winner was announced: a shed converted into a Roman temple. The competition was such a hit Wilco decided to make it an annual event, just to see what the ‘sheddies’ would do next and they haven’t disappointed. What was pretty niche and online soon gathered momentum. Everyone loved it. Then in 2014 Channel 4 picked it up and since then it’s gone global. Why has it captured the public’s imagination? Whether it’s a shed that inspires shock or awe, it’s a way into a world of wonderful eccentric shed builders who help define what’s great about Britain. Every year the number of entries goes up, but we still need everyone to enter their sheds.

How important are recycled and reclaimed elements within shed entries? So important! So many sheds are built with incredibly low budgets. It is such an affordable and accessible series for everyone. Reusing reclaimed elements allows a shed builder to keep the costs of their project as low as possible. But using reclaimed materials is about so much more than saving money. All of the materials used have a past, and often a great story to tell. I think it’s amazing that a humble garden shed can be made from the beautiful old timber of a dismantled timber barn or church. We’ve even had a small shed made from timber that was washed up on a beach when a terrace of beach huts was destroyed in a huge storm. I love the way old materials can be given a new lease of life adding to the beauty of a new building. Which are the stand out sheds for you over the past few years? There are too many. Joel Bird’s Shed (which was the first winner of our TV series) was amazing. He reused so many reclaimed materials I think the entire build cost him only £500! I really loved the Owl House from the last series, which was beautifully built and located by the sea. It provided a

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Shed of the Year 2016 Are you proud of your shed? The deadline for entries for Cuprinol Shed of the Year 2016 is 16 May. There are eight categories. ‘Normal’ has been renamed ‘Unexpected’ as it is the category where what’s on the inside of the shed is the last thing you’d expect to find. ‘Historical’ is now ‘Historic’, ‘Pubs’ is now ‘Pubs and Entertainment’ and ‘Garden Offices’ has been folded into ‘Workshops and Studios’. The remaining categories are: ‘Budget’, ‘Eco’, ‘Summerhouses and Cabins’ and ‘Unique’. Look out for the new series which will be transmitted on Channel 4 in the summer. For more information visit and

stunning retreat for the owner who was in a wheelchair, so elegant design combined with accessibility was essential. The Owl House came a very close second to Walter Micklethwait’s Gin Distillery Shed in Aviemore. Even Walter describes himself as a ‘serial builder of recycled things’ and who wouldn’t want a gin distillery in their garden? How has this competition inspired you and your work? It has made me fall in love with the beauty of craftsmanship even more. I’ve always been passionate about quality and things crafted from materials that stand the test of time. We talk so much about being more sustainable and ecological, which is important, but if we build something beautiful and to a high standard it will last for many generations, possibly even hundreds of years. Surely this is a more sustainable way to build? I find it heartbreaking that we are demolishing thousands of homes and buildings that were built 40 or 50 years ago, and many buildings are fitted out with such low quality materials we know we will be ripping out these interiors in five to ten years time. I’d be ashamed if one of my buildings was demolished in my lifetime. The ultimate reclaimed and recycled pieces are the projects you have followed as Restoration Man – which ones do you particularly remember? How long have you got? The Ice House in Scotland was my first ever day’s filming for the first series of Restoration

Man. The programme had everything: a unique abandoned structure that was never, ever intended to be a home; Laird, a creative and inventive owner, was so passionate about the building he wanted to do all of the work himself. It became a beautiful, sculptural home and was the ultimate labour of love. That project will stick with me forever. Then there was the restoration of Thrum Mill in Rothbury by Dave and Margaret. Dave was the most brilliant grafter and Margaret adored every part of a building that had fallen into ruin. It was a stunning building with a fascinating history brought back to life by a couple who could only have dreamed of ever owning such a home. Then there the Settle Water Tower alongside Settle Railway Station, oh and the restored Thomas Telford Church in the Outer Hebrides which has to be one of the most picturesque landscapes I’ve ever filmed in. I have too many favourites. Every Restoration Man project has a unique building with a unique history, restored by unique people with a passion to save an old abandoned building. What are your personal highlights from the new series? I’m just finishing off another batch of Restoration Man projects that will be transmitted later this year. As long as the Great British Public keep watching the programmes I’ll keep making them because it is an absolute honour and privilege to be involved in saving so many abandoned buildings. Being an architect and builder makes me the luckiest boy


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‘We even had a small shed made from timber that was washed up on a beach when a terrace of beach huts was destroyed in a huge storm.’ in the world, but then being able to share that experience with millions of people around the world is something that is hard to put into words. My favourite project from the current series is the restoration of an old Methodist church in Harrogate. It takes a very special person to give so much to such a huge and ambitious project, and owner Mark Hinchliffe is a true restoration warrior. But then I love the restoration of Whittingham Station too!


Has the approach to restoration projects changed over the years? Are people more or less ambitious, or trying to introduce more eco-friendly elements? Thankfully we are celebrating ‘Restoration’. You have to remember that it wasn’t that long ago that we had very little regard for old buildings and we have lost so much. It was scandalous how many beautiful buildings and beautiful parts of our towns and cities were destroyed to make way for the new, and we have now realised that a lot of the ‘new’ we created is actually horrendous! The way we demolished the beautiful old Euston Station and Euston Arch in London to make way for what I think is one of the most depressing railway stations in Britain is a scandal on a national scale. Our attitudes to old buildings has completely changed in the last 50 years and I’m so relieved about that. People see the cultural and historic value of our old buildings and they are becoming even more ambitious in the scale, size and complexity of what they take on. Thankfully, as technology improves every day, we are able to make these old buildings more energy efficient and sustainable. It’s a great time for beautiful old buildings and they will be around for a lot longer than us!

(top to bottom) The Cabin of the Green Man, owned by Luke Anthony Wesley from Bedford, was a finalist in the 2015 competition. The build included reclaimed timber, reclaimed glass and old pallets. A finalist in the 2015 competition, the roof of the amazing Eco Dome is made from aluminium and is used as a workshop. Crowned as the Cuprinol Shed of the Year 2015, the Inshriach Distillery is a gin distillery in Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands, farm shop and ladies waiting room, transformed into a quirky party venue by owner Walter Micklethwait. Made from recycled materials such as cob and old plywood the Owl House, owned by Tracy Lewis from Hightown, Merseyside, includes round windows made from recycled glass bottles.

Do you incorporate reclaimed/recycled elements into your own projects? How important is this aspect for you personally and for your business? We do! We recently completed the refurbishment and restoration of an old house in west London and thankfully our client shared our passion for beautifully crafted materials and reclaiming architectural elements and reusing them in a modern way. We even went as far as sourcing a section of bar from an old Victorian pub, adapting and reusing it as the kitchen island unit! I love homes that are beautifully crafted, respecting the old, but also bringing in the new in a creative and sensitive way. Reusing, recycling, salvaging and adapting old materials and objects in a new way has been going on for hundreds of years. During the 1980s and 1990s in the architectural world this was often seen as a bit ‘hippy’. Now, if it is crafted and designed in the right way, it is seen as being really cool. How times change. 37

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o envisage a pigsty as a luxury romantic retreat takes a leap of the imagination. But when faced with a corrugated farm building near Mawgan Porth, North Cornwall, Jess Clark let her mind run free. And, as if springing from the pages of a story book, the woodcutter’s cabin came to life. ‘I liked the idea of a stumbled-upon woodman’s cabin - a bit Hansel and Gretel, so that when you walked through the door you’d feel that the woodman had just left,’ says Jess explaining her inspiration. ‘In my mind he was a bearded, muscular woodcutter,’ she laughs. Mellors the gamekeeper from Lady Chatterly’s Lover would perhaps fit the bill. Crucially though, this fantasy woodcutter had made everything in the cabin himself. ‘It had to appear lived in and authentic with an emphasis on reclaimed wood and fittings. I didn’t want it to look like a copycat new build,’ Jess explains. The cabin and the land are owned by Sarah Stanley of Unique Home Stays, a luxury self catering agency, specialising in unique properties and is based just a short walk away from the former pigsty. Jess has worked for the company for 12 years and although her background is not interior design, that eventually became her role, styling fishermens’ cottages in Cornwall. She had completed nine projects before the woodcutter’s cabin – which is called Firefly – but had never been involved with building from scratch before. ‘My biggest worry was, ‘what if it doesn’t turn out as it is in my mind?’’ Jess says. Luckily, Sarah’s partner Andy Davey has a construction company – and a great carpenter – and they understood Jess’s unique vision. Using sketches and moodboards, she built up her ideas for the cabin, only using an architect when it came to making drawings for planning purposes. They used the footprint of the old farm building, so, conscious of the compact space, Jess was keen to make it as open as possible, lighting the cottage with large sky-lights and installing huge barn doors to open up the kitchen and living space on sunny days. 41

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Jess Clark on authentic simplicity 1. The materials need to be well used. Trying to age things artificially never has the same effect. 2. To make a rustic scheme work, keep things tonal throughout. 3. You can still be brave and have fun with accessories – for example the woodcutting tools attached to the kitchen island. I like to make people smile. Firefly sleeps up to two guests Unique Home Stays Tel: 01637 881183


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Firefly has a Hansel and Gretel feel.

‘IT HAD TO APPEAR LIVED IN AND AUTHENTIC, WITH AN EMPHASIS ON RECLAIMED WOOD AND FITTINGS.’ ‘I wanted there to be points of interest wherever you were sitting or lying down, so I positioned myself in all those spots to imagine what would work best,’ says Jess, hence the stargazing skylight above the bath. The project took a year from start to finish, with as much as possible sourced from reclamation yards and online. In pursuit of authenticity, old scaffolding boards were used for the interior wall cladding and floors. They were cut and sealed and give the cabin a warm, rustic feel. ‘I’d seen scaffold boards on building sites and I loved that scruffy, dusty look, with grooves where builders had dropped tools,’ Jess says. She and Andy phoned round Cornish scaffold companies to buy their old boards, but eventually drained them dry. ‘In the end we offered to swap brand new boards for their old ones. They thought we were joking!’


Inspired by the original farm building, the kitchen ceiling is corrugated iron, but the roof itself is slate, so there’s no tinny racket if the rain comes down. The wooden kitchen units were made by the carpenter, who also crafted the huge barn doors. Andy cast the hard wearing concrete worktops on site. To keep an ‘organic’ feeling throughout, the rope lights – an eBay find – were strung up on the broad roof beams. Even

The rustic sitting area at Firefly. 43

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‘THE CHURCH PEW WAS LEFT OVER FROM A CHAPEL CONVERSION AND FITTED PERFECTLY INTO THE SPACE AS A BEDROOM CHAIR.’ the Aga is old, but was reconditioned before it was installed in the cabin. The woodworking tools, artfully tacked on to the wood panels of the kitchen island, were picked up from a hospice shop in Penryn that sells retro bits and pieces. ‘If it’s scruffy and beaten up, we know we can use it!’ Jess says. The table and mismatched chairs came from local reclamation yards. Jess and Sarah often buy from Summercourt Reclamation in Newquay and Shiver Me Timbers near Penzance. To keep the room cosy under foot, a crochet rug from Cornish company, Nordic House was placed by the sofa and the reindeer hide was bought from Toast.


The open fire is the focus of the sitting area in the kitchen. The impressive grate was bought on eBay and the collection of wood and metal containers that line the hearth came from online store Goose Home and Garden. Keeping the rural feel, scythes from a house clearance adorn the wood-clad walls along with antlers from a charity shop in Redruth. The curious cupboard above the fire hides the smart TV. ‘I hate TVs,’ Jess says, ‘so I always try to hide them somehow!’

Shed antlers, mounted with a carved crown on oak shield back.

l A set of 12-point red deer antlers, £395,

l South Kensington Pine Church Chapel Pew Bench, £275 + VAT,

Soft and long-fleeced sheepskin in natural colours, from British sheep. Expect rugs to be uniquely different in colouring and size.

A selection of vintage tools.

l Sheepskin rug, £99,

l Old tools, £30 each,


The headboard in the bedroom is perhaps a world first. It’s actually a turning mat from a construction site that diggers sit on to manoeuvre. ‘When I saw it, it looked like a piece of slate,’ Jess says. ‘So we bolted it to the wall. I think it worked very well!’ Above it, are bull’s horns from the same charity shop in Redruth where the antlers came from. The mesh pendant lights either side of the bed were bought from Nkuku. The church pew was left over from a chapel conversion and fitted perfectly into the space as a bedroom chair – a statement piece without betraying the rustic feel of the cottage. Hanging above the pew is a sepia photograph of men in a canoe, found in Uneeka in Truro. ‘It felt right for the cabin,’ Jess says.


GET THE LOOK Original William Butterfield pews designed when the church was built (St Augustine’s, Queen’s Gate, London), featuring great gothic elements and bookshelf to the back.

Although it looks simple, the cabin is distinctly 21st century, with eco-friendly heating, wifi and even an iPad Air for guests to use.

Off the bedroom is the almost totally handmade bathroom. As well as concreting the floor, Andy also cast the bath and the sink in concrete, which he did on site. It was the first time, he’d ever created a bathroom from a mixer, working to a sketch of Jess’s. Old copper outdoor taps that the plumber had in his van were used for the sink, but the copper shower rose is a new purchase. The fabulous loo is a thing of many parts, coming from various reclamation yards. The carpenter made the seat. Airy in summer and cosy in winter, the cabin is popular all year round and even has a natural outdoor pool. No one can fail to be enchanted by the cabin, stumbling upon it, after the woodcutter has just left... ! Like to stay at Firefly? Race to


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1. These shells, from a private collection, make a handsome display on shelves. l Giant melon shells, ÂŁ55 each,

Catch of the day

These vintage and antique deep sea treasures will bring a spot of seaside splendour to your home


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2. This fine 1970s resin lamp has been fully rewired, so you can plug in and light up your room with a retro seascape. l Resin table lamp from £165, Marc Kitchen-Smith at LASSCO Ropewalk,


3. An Edwardian lamp made from two conch shells. Ayre & Co, who specialise in natural history and taxidermy, note that it’s rewired, fully working and has the original brass switch. l Conch shell lamp, £150, 4. Dating from 1890, this beautiful French decorative shell box is a knock out addition to any dressing table. l Shell box, £780,


5. Vintage shell boxes, great for storing precious little things. l Shell boxes, between £12 and £55,


6. From a private collection, Nikki Page Antiques notes that this clam shell has an unusual ‘corner’ shape and is in exceptional condition. l Giant corner clam shell, £1100, nikkipageantiques. com 7. This stunning shell has been decorated with a silver plated handle and edging. l Nautilus shell, £125,



8. Giant polished Nautilus shells from a private collection. l Giant polished nautilus shells, £55 each,

8 47

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ith just a brush and paint palette, traditional signwriters have quietly decorated our cities and towns for centuries, emblazoning shops, pubs, chemists, vehicles and more, with meticulous and decorative hand painted signs. In generations past, companies employed signwriters to promote their businesses, and the craft flourished as signwriters passed on their knowledge to apprentices or family members. But, the advent of computerised vinyl and acrylic machine cut lettering and signage in the 1980s almost killed off the trade completely, leaving only a handful of working traditional signwriters in the UK. One of those signwriters is Joby Carter, who is part responsible for the visual feast that is Carters Steam Fair, the world’s largest travelling vintage funfair, with rides and sidestalls ranging in date from the late 1800s to the 1960s. If you’ve ever visited the fair, you’ll have experienced the nostalgic delight of rides such as the Steam Gallopers, Swingboats and Chairoplanes, the distinct sound of the steam organ and the heady fragrance of candy floss and hot doughnuts. The fair was started in 1977 by Joby’s parents, John

and Anna Carter, who had bought and restored a set of late 19th century Steam Gallopers, which Joby says he considers a ‘family member’. Though John sadly died in 2000, the family, including Joby and his siblings, Seth and Rosie, run the fair. Continuing in the fairground tradition of hand painting rides in glorious, escapist colours, gold and aluminium leaf to transport customers to a magical place, Joby is passionate about keeping the art of signwriting alive. ‘When I was growing up, I was fascinated by signwriting,’ Joby says. ‘My parents employed professional signwriters at the fair in the late 1970s and 1980s and I absolutely loved what they did. In fact I spent all my time at school drawing signs, when I should have been doing school work.’ In the 1980s, with the arrival of the digital age and vinyl, the call for traditional signwriting quickly faded. Things looked so bleak for the craft that Stan Wilkinson, the main signwriter at Carters at the time, turned away people who approached him for apprenticeships, because he could see that the future of signwriting was clearly in peril. However, Joby’s father, John, still needed someone to help maintain the rides at Carters, and so asked Stan to show Joby the signwriting ropes. 49

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Want to learn to signwrite? If you’d like to book on to Joby’s next signwriting course, running between the 14-18 November 2016, go to carterssteamfair. The five day intensive course covers the basics of fairground art, signwriting, lining, blending, perspective, scrollwork, colour relativity and much more and you have your own painted sign (and newfound skills) to take home with you at the end of the week. The courses are held in Joby’s paintshop at the Carters Steam Fair Yard, in White Waltham near Maidenhead. The courses cost £475 + VAT

‘Stan agreed to teach me because our business still really needed a signwriter,’ Joby said. ‘Stan had been in the trade since the 1950s and had learned from a man called Mr Giles, whose father had taught him and whose own father had worked at Hovis in Basingstoke,’ explains Joby. ‘We’re talking Victorian times, so my skills have a direct lineage to Victorian times. I’m proud of that because I want to signwrite the way they did 100 years ago. It might take longer, but that’s the way I want it to be. It’s not perfect but it’s not supposed to be.’ Every ride is hand painted at Carters, so Joby faithfully researches the period the ride is from, be it the 1800s or the 1950s. During the 19th century for instance, there was a fashion for painting scenes of jungle animals, which at that time, were incredibly exotic and exciting. Some rides owned by Carters Steam Fair from the early 20th century were painted by ‘the Masters’ of fairground art, Hall and Fowle. Billy Hall and Fred Fowle’s striking work is highly regarded, preserved in museums - and is extremely collectable. ‘People pay thousands of pounds for antique signs with paint flaking off and I can appreciate why,’ Joby says. ‘If I can save something, I will, but if it’s a structural piece or there’s a safety issue, then I have to strip it down and replicate it exactly. Some of the artwork was never intended to last this long. When it was painted, it was to be as contemporary as possible; something that intrigued the public and drew them to the ride. Fairground art is pop art, one hundred per cent.’

’I love old fairground art and when you think of the people who have held onto a certain handrail, or of the photos taken, you realise this stuff has been through so much historically.‘


‘I like to make the attraction look like the day it left the factory,’ he says. ‘When I research a ride, I’ll strip it down and try to find out the colours underneath. I don’t make it grander - just keep it as it was. I love old fairground art and when you think of the people who have held onto a certain handrail, or of the photos that have been taken there, you realise that this stuff has been through so much historically.’ As collectors of antique signs will know, the market is buoyant - and equally, reproduction fairground style signs, for hanging up in kitchens and bathrooms, are available in copious high street homeware stores. ‘I’ve done bits for myself and aged them up just for a laugh,’ says Joby. ‘There’s a lot of people buying reproductions these days and I suppose if something’s pleasing on the eye and you like it and value it, then why not buy it?’ Nine years ago, Joby decided to run a course in signwriting, thinking he’d run probably one course a year, just to pass some of his knowledge on to others. Now, he does five courses a year and has witnessed a wider resurgence in the interest in the art form. ‘Facebook and instagram and ‘hashtag signwriting’ have changed the game,’ says Joby. ‘You can really easily see the signwriting work people are doing around the world and this has helped increase interest in the art.’ Joby normally runs a five day course for 15 people and goes ‘back to basics’. The first course he ever did he taught a student, Aaron Stevens, and recognised that he had potential, so offered him an apprenticeship. Aaron’s been working with Carters Steam Fair ever since. ‘He’s one of the finest signwriters in the country,’ says Joby. ‘I do get people asking me to take them on, but to teach them you have to put in hundreds of hours to train them up. Aaron and I are a great team. There’s stuff he does better than me and stuff I do better than him.’

In addition to painting the rides and running courses, Joby is often approached by people who want him to signwrite for them. If it’s an interesting prospect and he can make the time after maintaining, restoring and painting the rides, vintage lorries and living wagons, he’ll take on the job. Recent commissions include signage for the English National Opera and also for the Brits aftershow party. Though he’s exceptionally experienced and talented in the art, Joby will occasionally go back to Stan Wilkinson, now retired and in his 80s, to ask for a hand or for advice. ‘He’s like the oracle and a wonderful man,’ Joby says. ‘He’s been signwriting since 1950, going out there painting to put food on his family’s table. It wasn’t all trendy London bars and restaurants back then, and he’s pretty bemused by this sudden resurgence in signwriting!’ ‘But it’s an exciting time for signwriters now. It’s an art form that’s being kept alive and we are very appreciated. At Carters it’s not only about the paintwork, it’s the whole ethos of it; the art work is warm and inviting and sets us apart from other fairs. And of course there’s the fact that the fair is painted with love. It might sound naff, but it’s the truth.’


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(above) The Gallopers. (left) Atkinson No.18 is used to power and haul the Victory Dive Bomber. (right) Joby Carter signwriting. (below) A Carters organ. 51

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entleys Fairs are offering an exciting opportunity for one winner to have a pitch at a leading annual salvage event, Knebworth Decorative Salvage & Vintage Fair, joining traders from across the UK and Europe to sell their finest quality salvage. The winning trader will have a 20ft x 20ft uncovered pitch, worth £225. The winner can bring along their own marquee for the pitch and can purchase more space if needed. Stock should be reclaim, architectural, industrial salvage, decorative antiques and vintage of the best authentic quality. The fair is held in the grounds of the famous Knebworth House, Knebworth Park, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, SG1 2AX (29 miles



from London). The winner will need to make their own way there and can enjoy a free BBQ on Saturday evening too! For your chance to win a pitch, answer the following simple question and email with the answer, your name, company name and contact number with the subject header ‘Knebworth Fair comp’. The winner will be picked on the 19th May 2016. Knebworth House is in which county? a) Dorset b) Yorkshire c) Hertfordshire Explore Bentleys Fairs at BENTLEYSFAIRS. CO.UK or Tel: 01424 218803 / 07828772475

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31/03/2016 17:14

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This green enamelled factory light with removable convex glass screens, was salvaged from a long established engineering facility in Halifax, c.1950.


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ander into a hip new bar and, chances are, your pricey cocktail will be illuminated by a light fitting that once looked down on a factory floor. Salvaged industrial lighting is not only being chosen by interior designers for bars, restaurants and shops, such as the retro Poppie’s Fish & Chips in Camden, London, (shown here), but is also taking its place in our homes. Lights from defunct factories from Gateshead to Gdansk are being saved from the demolition ball and reclaimed, shining down once more in our kitchens, bathrooms and even bedrooms. So what is the appeal of these functional – and often hefty – fittings? ‘There’s quality in the materials and real thought in the design,’ says Sophie Miller, who founded reclaimed lighting company Skinflint Design with her husband Chris eight years ago. ‘They’re not flimsy, they have solidity. They look like they are there to do a job and to last.’ Sophie studied Fine Art at St Martin’s before becoming a stylist and art director on commercials and BBC dramas. Chris worked in product design which encompassed lighting. So it seemed natural for the two of them to set up their own lighting design consultancy. Skinflint is based in Cornwall where they moved ten years ago after the birth of their first child for a better work/life balance. After working on a six storey house in Primrose Hill, London where the client wanted reclaimed everything, including lighting, throughout, the reclaim side of their business took off. ‘Chris and I had always enjoyed auctions and salvage yards and collected ourselves. We realised that it wasn’t just us who liked these old lights, but lots of people,’ says Sophie. For the Primrose Hill project, which took a year, they built up contacts in the Midlands and the north of England - the industrial heartland where many old factories were based - but since then their scope has widened, taking in former

The interior design company Avocado Sweets came to Skinflint for lighting this retro fish and chip restaurant in Camden in London. It takes customers back to the 1940s and London’s re-birth after the war.

Eastern Bloc countries and they’re now branching out to Russia in search of salvaged lighting. They have provided lighting for residential and commercial projects from Nandos in Aberdeen to a cafe in Kuala Lumpur and regularly ship lights to America and Australia.


So how on earth do they find out about soon-to-bedemolished factories in the former Eastern Bloc? ‘It’s quite complicated!’ says Sophie. ‘There are dealers in each country who work with the demolition people. Otherwise there are language barriers and even cultural differences - how you work in different countries varies. The dealers take us to the places where the lights are. Sometimes the lights are still in situ, but more often they’re stacked up.’ It’s more economic to demolish old factories as quickly as possible, so it takes time working with demolition trades to convince people to get up a ladder and carefully unscrew hundreds of lights. ‘We’re succeeding with it more and more, but you do 55

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‘It‘s not just about having pretty lights, it‘s about having authentic products, so it‘s important to acknowledge the history of a piece otherwise its story will be forgotten.‘ (above) These vintage British street lanterns by GEC were called the ‘Small Oxford’ and date to c.1950. They have a polished aluminium enclosure with original prismatic glass bowl diffuser and internal prismatic refractor.

hear of places with beautiful glassware that have just been bulldozed because it wasn’t financially viable to take it all down,’ Sophie says. Sometimes they strike lucky. In Eindhoven in the Netherlands they came across airfield lights still in their boxes, never used. Not every trip reaps rewards though. Sophie recalls a particularly chilling visit to the former Bodmin Lunatic Asylum: ‘It was such an eerie, weird place to find yourself in. We walked through the old wards with a demolition man who told us there were tunnels between the old Victorian building and the court. We didn’t find any lights we wanted. I’d done some soul searching in the past when we had lights from a former lunatic asylum for sale and a woman emailed me to ask why we’d used that term. But that’s how we described them because that’s where they came from, rather than burying the past.’ Lights are stripped down to their components to be

cleaned, refurbished and completely rewired in line with modern safety standards by Skinflint’s 20 part-time subcontractors. There’s an emphasis on everything being done locally to support the local economy. ‘Every light is different,’ says Sophie. ‘So we run quite a tight schedule of works where things go out to the relevant person. It ties in nicely with the marine industry here in Cornwall. The skills needed are transferable and it tides them


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Sophie Miller’s tips for placing industrial lights:





over during the quiet times of the year.’ Skinflint have a library of original lighting catalogues that they are building up. The provenance of a particular light is what many people find appealing and is something Sophie is passionate about. ‘It’s not just about having pretty lights, it’s about having authentic products, so it’s important to acknowledge the history of a piece, otherwise its story will be forgotten forever. Some people will perhaps just see a blue metal shade that they like. Whereas others value that it’s a 1940s shade that came from Hungary. That can really add something.’ They sold an enamel General Electric Company shade to a descendant of one of the founders of GEC. Another customer bought MOD bomb factory lights salvaged from the south of Wales and liked them so much he hunted down a rare 1942 book entitled ‘Explosives’ which had a picture of the lights in their original setting. Skinflint’s ever-changing stock includes explosive-proof

Imposing industrial pendants These lights can be very large, so you need quite high ceilings. They work well over a kitchen counter top. I also like using them in hallways, so that you can see the impressive metal galleries (the top parts) when you come down the stairs.

Angled factory shades These are angled so light bounces off the wall. Depending on size you could use them to light paintings or place them in a row over a kitchen counter for ambient light. They work equally well in a corner of a room or to light a feature wall.

Machinist lights A pair of these look great either side of a bed, especially the ones with articulated arms that you can adjust. They’re good multi-purpose lights and can be used as task lights or, if you turn them upwards, they reflect light off the wall.

Naval wall lights Try placing these in a hallway or even by a bedside. If you have pendants or other ceiling lights in the kitchen they can be a good way of creating additional light.

Eastern Bloc street lights Again, because they have such a strong industrial design they are ideal in a kitchen. If you repeat them in the room, one over a counter top and one over a table, that looks very good.

1.BOMB FACTORY LIGHT WWII MOD bomb factory light salvaged from a substantial decommissioned military installation in the south of Wales. Circa 1940. £528 2.NAVAL PASSAGEWAY LIGHT Steel and glass naval passageway light by Osaka Tokushu salvaged from decommissioned Japanese cargo ships in India. Circa 1950. £270 3.POWER STATION PENDANT British industrial pendant by Holophane salvaged from Cockenzie power station, East Lothian, Scotland. Circa 1960. £576

4.EXPLOSION PROOF PENDANT Industrial pendant light by Victor, originally designed for use in the mining industry. Substantial enclosure with a raw paint finish, manufacturer detailing and original explosion proof glass. Circa 1950. £528 5.VINTAGE CHEMISTRY BUILDING LIGHT BY HOLOPHANE Prismatic glass and aluminium industrial 1960s lighting salvaged from the School of Chemistry buildings at the University of Birmingham. £432 All lights available at

pendants, dating to 1950, from the mining industry, 1960s globes from a Czechoslovakian school, steel lights from a disused ceramics factory on the Polish border, converted Eagle Star American traffic lights and bulkheads from Wolverhampton railway station. One of their more interesting finds were British helipad lights which they turned into ceiling pendants. ‘They had scratches from where the helicopters landed, which I liked,’ says Sophie. With the more imposing lights costing over £500, it might seem a stretch for a kitchen light. But it’s not just about lighting your worktop while you chop your veg. ‘They are beautiful objects, works of art that are functional too,’ says Sophie who thinks of them as accents or statement pieces in a room. ‘It’s lovely to know that a light is so solid and well-manufactured that it’s still in use after 100 years.’ Refurbished, there no reason why it shouldn’t last another 100 years.

! Skinflint Design Tel: 01326 565 227, 57

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or many people, it’s the dream – to give up the day job and make a living from their passion for making. And it’s a dream Paul Parry of Bad Dog Designs, currently systems manager for a transport company, looks set to achieve. Incredibly he set up his business making captivating steampunk clocks with vintage Nixie tubes (cold cathode display devices) just two years ago, and now he has interest from Liberty in London and Theo Paphitis. Here, Paul tells Jane Common what makes his business tick... So what, exactly, is a Nixie tube, Paul? They are pieces of old, redundant technology – sort of neon lights with numbers inside that were used as display devices in electronic equipment such as voltmeters, frequency counters and even calculators. In Britain we stopped manufacturing them in the early 1970s when the new-fangled LEDs arrived. Now I’m giving them a new lease of life.

How did you arrive at the concept of using them to create clocks? I’ve always fiddled around with electronics and enjoyed exploring how things work. By the age of three I was pulling my toys apart (my parents gave up buying me any!) and when I was nine I had a dozen televisions in my bedroom, all in bits. As an adult I made and sold electronic synthesisers as a hobby. Then I saw some Nixie tubes online and they jogged something in my memory from when I was little. They’re neat, I thought. They’d make nice clocks. So, on eBay, I bought a job lot of Nixie tubes that were used in old RAF frequency counters and rather than remove the tubes and scrap the rest of the equipment, I decided to turn the whole thing into a clock. On April 1st 2014 – that was the date, honestly – I listed it on eBay with a cheeky Buy It Now price of £250. When I switched on the computer a couple of hours later and saw it had sold I was over the moon.


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It snowballed from there. With the money from that first clock I bought some more Nixie tubes and bits and bobs for the casings – everything I use to create my clocks is second hand apart from the brass plaques and modern electronics inside – and now, two years on, I’ve built around 200 and turned our spare bedroom into a workshop. If anyone had told me when I sold that first clock that just two years on I’d be where I am today, well, I wouldn’t have believed them. How did the business grow? Was it word of mouth? Yes, initially I’d make a clock, put it on eBay and wait for it to go but then people started approaching me with commissions. I built the website a couple of months after the business started and formed a proper company around then too. I hope to give up the day job soon. I’m so busy with commissions I reckon it’s imminent. I’ve made bespoke clocks for people’s 80th birthdays and weddings and Christmas. I built one for a chemist that says ‘To the Best Pharmacist in the World’ on the front. This was all completely word of mouth and then, about 18 months ago, Stuff magazine included one of my clocks in a feature on steampunk. They gave it a whole page and things went mad.

(above) One of the Gordon range of clocks.

Why did you call the business Bad Dog Designs? We’re guessing you own a bad dog! Yes, a Golden Retriever called Max. One day, my partner Karen and I went for a long walk to try to think of a name for the business. Max sped off, then this great, black drenched muddy swamp monster thing returned in his place. ‘You’re a bad dog,’ we said and that the name just fitted, somehow. To give Max his due, he does help in the workshop sometimes. How did the possible collaboration with Liberty come about? I got through to Liberty’s Best of British Awards Open Call after seeing a post on Facebook in the #upcycledhour forum. I emailed a picture and description of my clocks across, then, on Christmas Eve, received an email inviting me to the store in January 2016. When Karen and I arrived, there was a massive queue and we were waiting outside in the cold for a few hours, then we made it to the bottom of that lovely wooden staircase, relieved to be in the warm. Finally we reached the fifth floor where we were asked which category we wanted to register in and were shown to a big hall and told we’d have to wait for an hour and a half. I opened my suitcase to check the two clocks I’d brought were okay – it was a cold day and we’d travelled by train. But, when I got one out, a small crowd gathered and the girl who’d signed us came over to look. ‘Wow,’ she said and


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Gemini The Gemini is my favourite – the client told me to make a clock and said: ‘Don’t let budget be a constraint. Just be as creative as you can!’ What a lovely brief to work to. Gemini is made from a 1942 combined volt and amp meter found at a second hand shop, and amongst other things has the directional gyro from a Spitfire in the middle of the clock. On top is a miniature Steam Beam engine that runs while the clock is telling the time. Real steam from the chimney would require heat and flame and be a bit dangerous so a bit of smoke and mirrors was required and I used a miniature humidifier that gives a mist of water resembling steam. The clock also features the graphic design talent of Pete Gardner who drew the brass front panel – Pete is the photographer who took the pictures for Stuff magazine. Gemini took about four months to put together and she now sits in a waiting room in a Singapore dental practice. 61

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Clocks by Paul at Bad Dog Designs

CAPTAIN NEMO The first steampunk clock I made was called Captain Nemo and it took several months, on and off. It was my first artistic design, in that it didn’t look like a piece of electronic equipment, and it sold extremely quickly on eBay.

LITTLE SOLATRON VOLTMETER This originally started off as a ‘not so little’ voltmeter – it was about a foot and a half long so I cut it down to a more acceptable depth to fit on a bedside table. I brought this voltmeter and others as part of a job lot off eBay – the seller was a retired lecturer who’d saved them from the skip when his university modernised their equipment in the 1980s. I made two of these – one went to the USA and the other resides in Hertfordshire.

ORPHEUS The Orpheus clock was an early one made from an old resistance decade box, which already looked suitably steampunk. I polished the brass front plate, removed the controls and fitted four Nixie tubes to display hours and minutes. The wood was sanded down and re-finished and I added a few little touches to the design, like the feet which came from an old mantel clock.


next thing Karen and I were ushered straight through to meet the buyers. My opening line was ‘I hope to show you something you’ve never seen before!’ And I was talking for ten minutes, even though I was only allowed four. But the people seemed impressed, especially one chap who agreed he’d never seen anything like my clocks in his life. It was only later, reading about the event on social media, that I realised that chap was Ed Burstell – the managing director of Liberty. A few days later, I received a personal email from him saying how much he’d enjoyed my clocks and that there might be a possibility in the Men’s dept. But even if it doesn’t come to anything I can always say I made the MD of Liberty go ‘Wow’. I’ve also won a Theo Paphitis Small Business Sunday award. Every Sunday afternoon business owners tweet Theo details of their company and, every Monday at 8am, he picks his six favourites and retweets them to his 496,000 Twitter followers. Every winner is also included in an online directory and invited to an awards ceremony at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham. Where do you buy the bits to make the casings of your clocks, Paul? I scour websites like eBay and Preloved and visit antiques fairs – we went to Norfolk a year ago and filled the boot of the car for £200. I use antique mantel and grandfather clocks, old musical and jewellery boxes, bits of Spitfires, shells from WW1 and cigarette cases. Anything old and interesting, I’ll buy it. For the test and measuring equipment clocks I deal directly with electronics companies and buy a lot of stuff as scrap. The old voltmeters I use aren’t accurate by today’s standards and weigh half a tonne so nobody, apart from me, has much interest in them. But the quality of the workmanship is wonderful. Often they have solid rosewood cases and are beautifully dovetailed. Things just aren’t made that way now. How long will the clocks last? Well, a lot of the tubes date back to 1964 and they’re still working fine so I don’t know – forever? Apparently they are robust enough to survive a nuclear blast. They’re pretty hardy little things and I give a two year guarantee on my clocks. ! See Paul’s clocks at Paul can be found tweeting at @BadDogDesigns_


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Get close to nature. Immerse yourself in a simpler way of living. Unplug from the daily rush. Reconnect as a family. Bring the dog. Walk on the beach. Learn to surf. Gaze at star filled skies. UnpLUG, Reconnect, RevIve • 01271 882004


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Tips from the Trade ‘We’re generally flexible for about 10% on price and I think that’s pretty standard across most yards,’ Rupert says. ‘It depends on what the item is and how easy it is to sell, obviously, but it’s certainly not cheeky for a customer to try and barter around that 10% mark.’


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hen Tim, the photographer, and I arrive at English Salvage, Ameena, the office manager, is in a fluster, walking up and down boulevards of stone garden furniture and past a cul-de-sac housing a What The Butler Saw box and some slightly unnerving mannequins of children. ‘I can’t find the little anchor we had in stock,’ she sighs, peering up an alleyway of dolls’ houses and old medicine bottles. ‘Someone’s ordered it over the Internet and now it’s disappeared.’ Not an uncommon problem, I’d imagine, in a salvage yard that spans three acres of outside space and boasts 12,000 square foot indoors, in converted barns. But Rupert Woods, who, with his wife Pru founded English Salvage back in the early 2000s, comes to the rescue. ‘I have a good visual memory,’ Rupert smiles. ‘I don’t know how but I possess this ability to picture something in situ and pinpoint exactly where it is. We do have location codes on our system but occasionally they’re a bit vague so I’m often called upon to find stuff.’ A pretty handy qualification for a man who runs a reclamation yard, even if Rupert’s CV prior to opening English Salvage in 2003 is a little offbeat. ‘My background is tropical agriculture – after leaving college, I worked in Africa for years,’ he says. ‘But I became fed up of short term contracts and moving around. Our kids were growing older too so Pru and I decided, on the spur of the moment really, to return to England. Opening up a salvage yard just struck us as something we could do. I’d always lived in old houses and appreciated antiques and I was a frequent visitor to reclamation places back in the 1980s when I was doing up a property. So we moved to Herefordshire and found this site. It was empty farm buildings when we happened to drive past and spotted it, but we spoke to the farmer and got planning permission and here we are.’ Here they are indeed. Over the past decade English Salvage has established a reputation as one of the best yards in Britain with a focus on the unusual and beautiful and clients as diverse as English Heritage, Jack Wills, Jamie Oliver’s



From bumper cars to stone frogs, there’s a surprise at every turn at English Salvage. 67

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Our English Salvage Favourites Red rusty bull, £165 Great Danes on plinths, £9260 the pair Set of handmade fireplace tiles (third and fourth from left in the pic), £150 the set English Salvage is at North Road, Leominster, Herefordshire, HR6 0AB Tel: 01568 616205, Opening times are Mondays to Saturdays 9-5pm.




restaurants and all those film companies, of course. Regular drops are made at Pinewood and Shepperton Studios. Initially called Leominster Reclamation, when Rupert and Pru decided to change the name of their business three years ago they had to prove to officials at Companies House that the use of the word ‘English’ was legitimate. ‘Companies House doesn’t approve of people using English or British in the name of their firm unless they can actually show they’re a leader in their field,’ Rupert says. ‘We had to get the guys from Salvo to write to Companies House and explain we were one of the pre-eminent yards to be allowed to use the name English Salvage.’ That’s proof of success, then, so how have Rupert and Pru built up such a thriving business? ‘We embraced the Internet early on,’ Rupert says. ‘Herefordshire isn’t great for passing trade so as soon as the Internet started we put a lot of effort into our site and spent a lot of money on it. Now most of our sales are online. We’re always really clear and honest in our description of our products and we photograph them well. It’s not in our interest to pull the wool over people’s eyes. Items will get sent back and rightly so.’

z The other interesting aspect of English Salvage’s website is that, uniquely in the trade, Rupert reckons, products can be searched for by size. One barn houses upwards of 2000 doors and each one is numbered and tagged so that when an online customer makes an order their quarry can be easily located. Even Rupert with his superb visual memory admits he might struggle to pick out a door when they’re all stacked together like dominoes! Rupert takes me on a tour of the yard, pointing out some of his current favourite inhabitants. There’s a set of medieval doors from Naples which reach to the sky - ‘perfect for a shop or restaurant’ he says; another set of enormous doors that originate from the National Gallery and a searchlight from an ice rink in Birmingham which would have followed wannabe Torville and Deans – and quite possibly even Torville and Dean themselves – around the arena. ‘I buy things because I like them,’ Rupert tells me. ‘I’ve got a bit of a reputation for going off and vacuuming stuff up but buying is the aspect of this job I enjoy most. I travel to


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Salvage Sizzlers – What’s Hot? ‘There is stuff that sells all the time like flooring and doors,’ Rupert says. ‘We’ve recently been exporting a load of flooring to Dubai. Decent garden stuff always goes and ironmongery toddles along. At the moment, wooden fire surrounds are popular with the domestic market and interior designers for restaurants and bars are buying up galvanised containers and old shop cabinets. Personally I’m really into ceramic ware from France – big double basins with bold deco curves – and they sell so that’s good.’

Cast iron garden statue, £1,050. 69

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If you can’t get to the yard, don’t despair. English Salvage offer their entire catalogue online. .




Eastern Europe, Turkey, Egypt and France and when lorries arrive with my purchases Pru’s eyebrows shoot up. She’s far more disciplined than I am but I’m learning.’ What about British auctions? Is all the best booty abroad these days? ‘I used to buy a lot at auctions back in the day when it was the auctioneer and five of us walking round a field looking at stuff,’ Rupert says. ‘But the advent of online bids changed the whole process. I went to one horrendous auction where the other dealers and I were sitting in this horribly cold shed in the middle of winter while other bidders were warm and cosy in their homes, bidding online. The Internet was working really slowly and for us bidders in that freezing shed it was excruciating. It was taking five minutes between lots. So now it’s a rarity for me to stay at an auction. I’ll leave bids and then go home. Actually that’s a good exercise in restraint! I set my maximum price and don’t falter from it. ‘Now I prefer direct approaches, really, and obviously, with the reputation we’ve built up, we receive a lot. I recently went to the Borders to buy some fireplaces from a chap who specialised in them but was retiring and there was a real sense of satisfaction in driving up there, filling the lorry with the fireplaces and returning to the yard with them,’ he says. ‘Sometimes what goes on is criminal though. We recently went to a £10m house on a private estate in North London that the new owners were knocking down. There was all this gorgeous panelling in there and as fast as we could grab it the bulldozers were razing the house to the ground. Awful, but so often with demolition the guys are given such a short space of time to do it that it’s just a matter of bulldozing and flinging everything in a skip. And that’s a problem because if people would rather just throw stuff than sell it to someone who appreciates it one day supplies of all these fantastic old pieces are going to dwindle and run out.’ Still, with the current trend for upcycling and restoration, hopefully that day is still a long way off, and Rupert notices a growing interest in old stuff among young people. ‘A lot of our customers are trendy young folk in London who live in fairly featureless boxes and want to put something with a bit of individuality in their homes,’ he says. ‘Those young customers are great because they’ll keep a passion for salvage going into the future and hopefully protect a lot of antiques for posterity.’


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Reclaim and Relax Make a weekend of a trip to English Salvage and explore historic Herefordshire and Shropshire at the same time, as Jane Common did... Shropshire and Herefordshire are two of my favourite counties; I think it’s the combination of the wonderful old architecture and the beautiful countryside that make them special, so, after meeting Rupert at English Salvage, I decided to take advantage of the yard’s location and explore for a couple of days. Ludlow, a market town just 12 miles from Leominster, is a treat for fans of Jacobean, Tudor and Georgian architecture. Apparently it boasts more listed buildings than any other town in Britain – nearly 500 – and the black and white timbered structures, of which the Feathers Hotel is a prime example, are striking. Herefordshire, too, boasts its fair share of timbered treats, an aspect of the county the tourist board is promoting with its Black and White Village Trail – a 40-mile circular driving route from Leominster to Kington. The village of Weobley, on the trail, has been dubbed England’s prettiest village – practically every

building is black and white timber-framed. And I stayed the night in a hotel which, while not black and white timbered, has a pretty impressive restoration story of its own. Fishmore Hall, a mile out of Ludlow, was a fine Georgian private home when it was built in 1810 but, after a spell as a home for ‘naughty boys’ in the 1980s, it was sold to a property development company and left empty for five years. The vandals moved in and, when current owner Laura Penman first visited in 2006, it was virtually derelict. ‘When we first saw Fishmore it had only been on the market for 24 hours,’ Laura says. ‘The ground floor was boarded up and pitch black and there was a security alarm blaring. But, when we went upstairs and the light came streaming through the windows we could see the potential and we knew we could transform it into something really special. The views alone made it worth it with the towers of Ludlow Castle peeping up behind the trees.’ It certainly was worth it. Fishmore has now been returned to all its stately Georgian grandeur and, amazingly for a big project, Laura says the work was completed on time.

‘The builders, Wedgewood Construction and Joinery in Walsall, did an amazing job getting all of the different trades to work on schedule,’ she says. ‘We opened on time with only snagging to deal with, it was pretty amazing.’ Since the restoration Laura has added an orangery on to the original building which hosts the restaurant. ‘I love that space,’ she says. ‘The original planning permission was granted for what amounted to a plastic lean-to so we changed the plans and built the orangery from brick, render and glass – it’s much more in keeping. It has a huge ceiling lantern that runs all the way along the 12 metre length and it’s so bright and cheerful all year around.’

Fishmore Hall, Fishmore Road, Ludlow, Shropshire, SY8 3DP Tel: 01584 875148, The Feathers Hotel, Bull Ring, Ludlow, Shropshire, SY8 1AA Tel: 01584 875261, The Black and White Village Trail, 71

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(left) The Arco Lamp, now produced under license by Flos, was designed in 1962 by the Castiglioni Brothers and was inspired by overhead street lighting. For more information on Flos go to (right) Replica Arco-style Lamp from Iconic Lights,

change to copyright law means that the period a design is protected for is set to rise to ‘life plus seventy’ – so that’s from the creation of the design until 70 years after the designer’s death. (Previously it lasted for 25 years after creation.) It’s great news if you own an Eames chair as values of the originals are set to rocket, but less good if you’re a fan of reproduction furniture as, when the new legislation comes in, anyone selling – or buying – a piece will be guilty of a criminal offence. The new law due, at time of going to press, to take effect from April 28 2016, means that a business owner who sells replica goods will face fines of up to £50,000 and custodial sentences of up to ten years. Chairs that bear a striking resemblance to Eames’ products, floor lamps similar to the Arco design classic and seats hatched to match the Arne Jacobsen Egg will all soon be on a blacklist. ‘This is real and this is happening,’ says Scott Appleton, managing director of Scott Howard which sells both original and high end reproduction furniture. ‘It will seriously affect my business and it’s already affecting many people in other industries – businesses are going bust right now all because of this law. An Eames chair manufactured by Vitra in Switzerland, the company which holds the license to make them*, will now have more copyright protection under law

than a jet engine. How can that make any sense?’ The new law comes as a result of the coalition government’s decision to repeal Section 52 of the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1998. It was expected to be brought into force in 2020, to give businesses selling reproduction furniture time to sell their stock and adapt, but has been pushed forward to take effect from April 28 2016. After that date, companies have six months to sell their stock. ‘If you’re a consumer and can only afford a reproduction, you need to buy it now because in six months it might not be available,’ Scott Appleton says. ‘In fact, when this law comes in any consumers who buy new reproductions of ‘artistic’ designs will be breaking the law. So get in now. ‘The market is flooded with plastic replica Eames chairs selling on eBay for £5 – however this is the time to buy wellmade, beautifully-finished reproductions as traders are being forced to hold fire sales to get rid of stock. There are a lot of bargains out there.’ Short-term consumer gain, then, but, long-term, with no replica furniture on the market, people will have to fork out for the genuine article if they really want an Eames or a Barcelona chair. And that, say the new law’s supporters, is the whole point – to protect a designer’s intellectual property and ensure their work won’t be ripped off. ‘We need to be more generous in protecting new designs to encourage more investment of time and talent in the British creative industries,’ Sir Terence Conran told Reclaim. ‘It stands to reason this will lead to more manufacturing and more jobs which Britain desperately needs right now. Properly protected design is vital if we want to make the UK a profitable workshop again. As a nation we are bursting with creative talent so let’s use it.’ So proud owners of original, classic furniture can be sure that the egg their living room boasts can’t be copied elsewhere – after all, it must be a bit irritating to pay top dollar for something only to find that the folks next door have got a replica that looks identical for a sixth of the price? Kathy Leith, 39, from London, owns a few Eames pieces and says: ‘It’s a farce that designers in this country aren’t protected in the same way as musicians and artists so I’m pleased this law is coming into force. Cheap, low quality fakes damage the environment and undervalue the craft and skill


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The Knoll Barcelona® chair costs £5232 from the Conran Shop and, with cushions crafted from 148 separate pieces of leather and a chrome stainless steel frame hand buffed to a mirror finish, is one of the most imitated designs ever. The chair was designed in 1929 by Mies van der Rohe, the last director of the Bauhaus before the Nazis closed the school, and has been a classic ever since. The company logo is engraved on the chair’s right leg so buyers can be sure of authenticity. The Conran Shop has stores in London and across the world. For more information log on to

The Eames Lounge Chair® (left in the image), designed in 1956, came into being as a reworking of the classic old English club chair. A true icon in the furniture firmament an Eames chair sits in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In this picture, an original Eames is placed beside a Chinese replica – originals cost £5500 plus VAT and replicas £714 plus VAT from


of the designers creating the original pieces.’ Here, though, the new legislation gets even more complicated. Should a homeowner like Kathy want to exert their bragging rights and put a picture of their Barcelona chair on to Facebook they could fall foul of the law too. Lionel Bently, Professor in Intellectual Property Law at the University of Cambridge, explains: ‘Putting a photo on Facebook of a copyright protected piece could be classed as making a reproduction so, legally, the social media user would need a license from whoever owns the rights to the design to do that. If posts are limited to their close family circle that might be permissible but putting an image on Facebook counts, under law, as making the work available to the public, so as soon as the images can be accessed by friends or colleagues, that’s a problem.’ LATEST: At time of going to press, a letter had been lodged with the Intellectual Property Office outlining the objections of 98 people, including representatives from the British Library and the Publishers Association, to the timeframe in which the law is being implemented. A decision will be made in late March so, while the law won’t change as it’s already on statute, its implementation may be pushed back.

*Vitra holds worldwide distribution rights for the Charles & Ray Eames Organic Chair, La Chaise, Eames Elephant and the Miniatures Collection; distribution rights for all other designs exclusively for Europe and the Middle East. For other regions, contact Herman Miller Inc. More details at 73

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THOMPSON TRUNK BED, C.1830 This campaign bed by T.J. Thompson came from Raynham Hall in Norfolk and had been stored for years, so the condition wasn’t great and it needed restoration. Trunk beds like this are very rare. ‘We’d been looking for one for 15 years,’ says Sean Clarke, of Christopher Clarke Antiques. The Henry Ford Museum in Michigan has one like it, thought to belong to George Washington. This one was bought by a collector.

CAMPAIGN TRAILS FOLDING BOOT JACK MID 19TH CENTURY Campaign makers ensured that even the smallest piece of kit could fold. This clever mahogany boot jack is hinged so that it folds in the middle and has two removable boot pulls. It is unusual to find a boot jack in its complete state. Sold.

CABIN BED, MID 19TH CENTURY A teak Anglo-Indian bed that was a three-in-one for ship passengers, acting as a bed, chest of drawers and sofa. It has two iron rings each end so that it could be tied down in stormy weather and may have had removable retaining boards to stop you falling out during a swell. Price: £3,950.



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CHAIR BED, C.1805 The mahogany chair folds out to become a bed, with screw-in legs to support the frame. The back and sides are hinged to fold flat onto the seat, making it compact for travelling. It has the maker Thomas Butler’s brass plaque fixed to the front of the frame, showing he was based at 13 & 14 Catherine Street, The Strand, London. Price: £4,450.


PORTABLE WHIP CRACK, LATE 19TH CENTURY A soldier based in India would have had several whips and crops and may have used a mahogany rack like this. The Clarkes sold a similar piece to a London store who use it to display ties. Price: £495. 75


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IMPERIAL TABLE BY BUTLER, C.1800 This grand 9ft mahogany table was probably used by an officer to entertain other officers and may well have been set up in a tent. It has two D ends, three leaves and ten removable legs. The Imperial was designed by Gillows, but other makers such as Thomas Butler sold this popular model. This table has Butler’s brass label. Price: £9,800.


ampaign furniture was once so fashionable that during the Napoleonic Wars, Wellington tried to stop his soldiers taking too much of it to battle. Never mind that you were at war, how well your tent was fitted out was a sign of social standing. The quality and inventiveness of campaign furniture, often described as knockdown or travelling, is remarkable: from practical foldup beds and chests of drawers which divide in two, to elegant fold-down sofas and even grand mahogany dining tables that pack away flat. Travelling furniture goes way back - the

What to look for in a campaign chest This late 19th century mahogany chest unusually comes with its original packing cases. Sean Clarke gives pointers on how to spot a good, genuine piece:

Romans had it - but the campaign furniture we know today started in the mid 18th century, with 1800 to 1900 being the golden age. Other countries also produced it, but Britain led the way. It was mainly made for military use, on ship and shore, but in the late 18th and 19th century, the expanding British Empire needed clerks and administrators and, setting sail for the likes of India, they bought travelling furniture for the voyage and beyond. Other buyers were emigrants heading for the Australian gold rush. With months at sea ahead, if they could afford it, they could hire an empty cabin and fill it with

their own travelling furniture. Typically, a cabin fitter would provide a package of a folding iron bed, campaign chest, folding armchair and washstand, which the passenger could sell after the journey. There were makers for all budgets who would fit out 1st, 2nd or 3rd class cabins and, by the mid 19th century in London, many makers were offering similar packages, so prices were competitive. These days, while ‘brown’ Victorian furniture is out of fashion, campaign pieces have an enduring appeal. ‘Design is a key element - a classic look, with nice clean lines that can fit into most interiors,’

Timber: Look at the wood – it should have a pleasing colour and patina. Most chests tend to be mahogany or teak with rarer examples in walnut. Teak was used because it was good for hot, wet climates, which is why it’s chosen for garden furniture. Brasswear: The drawer handles should be of good quality and look used. If they are shiny and blemish free, they have probably been replaced. Feet: As a general rule, from 1850 onwards, English chests had removable, turned wood feet. Often feet are lost along the way, so if they are missing or have been replaced, you shouldn’t dismiss the chest. Colonial chests, made overseas and often in camphor wood, sometimes have fixed feet. Carrying handles: English campaign chests were sold with packing cases to transport them, so generally did not have carrying handles on the sides. There are exceptions – the maker S.W. Silver made chests with flush side handles, and colonial chests are more likely to have them. Often, dealers add handles because they wrongly assume a campaign chest should have them.



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STOOL TRUNK BY EYRE, C.1820 The perfect accessory for weary travellers, this small storage trunk doubled up as a place to perch. Several trunk makers were making these stools at the beginning of the 19th century, selling them to officers for use as camp stools or to coach passengers. The trunks were lined with newspapers that were then printed over with a polka-dot pattern. Byron wrote that while he was in Malta in 1811 he read a poem that was lining an Eyre trunk. Now, nearly 200 years old, this trunk has its original leather and studding. Sold.

ISAAC DAY’S CAVALRY BOX, 19TH CENTURY An early form of a washbag, the top level has razors by William Revitt of Sheffield, tweezers, nail scissors, a knife and a red leather mirror. Sold.

says campaign furniture dealer Sean Clarke. ‘There’s also the wow factor. The inventiveness is very attractive. A piece that does something, a table that folds out of a briefcase, is a great after dinner story.’ Sean and his brother Simon are the only specialist campaign dealers in the world - ‘as far as we are aware!’ They took over their father’s business, Christopher Clarke Antiques in Stow on the Wold in the late 1990s and looking for something to specialise in, decided on campaign furniture. They scoured the auction houses and put the word out to other dealers.

Not everyone can spot campaign pieces though - even antique dealers. ‘Your eye gets tuned in and you know what to look for,’ says Sean. ‘There’s perhaps something slightly unusual about the proportions or there’s a hinge in a place that you wouldn’t expect it. You look underneath the piece to see if there are any bolts and pick up on the clues. A friend who’s a dealer asked to leave a table with us while he went into town, rather than leave it in his car. When he came back we had it in pieces on the floor. He had no idea it was campaign. We bought it!’ For their first major exhibition in 2001, they gathered 100 items - furniture as well as smaller

objects like campaign cutlery - and they could see there was a huge amount of interest. People like furniture with a past, with a story and if a campaign chest could talk, it would have a tale to tell. Who knows where it travelled and who it belonged to? ‘With an owner’s name plate on a piece you can trace it back through their rank and regiment,’ says Sean, who refers to their extensive library of army lists and researches online. ‘It’s a bit like detective work,’ he says. A maker’s label with an address can help to narrow down the date that the piece was bought, as makers often changed addresses, which can

SECRETAIRE CABINET CHEST, LATE 19TH CENTURY This unusual chest splits into two halves and the top section folds down to reveal a leather-topped desk with drawers and pigeon holes. The bottom has five linen press slides and four drawers with flush campaign handles. Dates between 1862 and 1896. Sold. 77


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GEORGE III CAMPAIGN SOFA, C.1800 This elegant sofa may have been shipped out to India or even been bought by a soldier in the Napoleonic Wars. The back and arms are removable for ease of transportation. It has been carefully reupholstered, but would probably have been covered in silk or something more hardwearing. Price: £5,650.

be checked against annual trade directories. ‘It’s fascinating being able to pin it down and say: this soldier must have bought this chest in this five year period,’ Sean says. Knowing who it belonged to and roughly when it was purchased can completely change the perception and the value of a piece of furniture. An ordinary looking travelling trunk may turn out to have been to the Battle of Waterloo. Even if a soldier died in battle, his furniture often returned. ‘It wasn’t uncommon for personal belongings to be sent back home to the family. There were also battlefield auctions where other soldiers could buy the dead man’s possessions with the proceeds

going to his family,’ Sean explains. Nowadays the furniture appeals to collectors with an interest in a particular period of history or buyers who collect pieces by named campaign makers such as Thomas Butler, Morgan & Sanders, Gillows and Chippendale. Quite often though, it’s as simple as having a narrow staircase. The Clarkes sold a campaign sofa to a couple who wanted a Regency sofa, but found the staircase to their flat was too narrow. The arms and back came off, so they could assemble it in the room. Design students and school groups are encouraged to come to the Clarkes’ exhibitions. ‘You can see a child thinking ‘why are we in a

boring old antiques shop’, then you show them a chair that folds up really quickly,’ Sean recounts. ‘When you tell them it’s a chair from a naval ship that had to be moved away as quickly as possible when the canon came out for battle, their faces change. Then, it’s not just a chair, it’s exciting.’ They have rented and sold pieces to filmmakers, notably for Banished, the BBC series about a penal colony in 18th century Australia. In a new Tarzan film, ship furniture will appear in a scene of a boat going up the Congo and it seems fitting that, made to travel, these old soldiers of antique furniture are still on the move. »; Tel: 01451 830476

THE BAVEYSTOCK CHAIR, C.1900 Sold by the Army and Navy store, this folding chair still has its original carpet upholstery. The design was patented in 1886 and was so popular it was still being sold in 1907. Its reclining back and padded arms made such a comfortable travelling chair that Ella Constance Sykes wrote about it in her book Through Persia On A Side Saddle in 1898. Sold.



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JUNE 2016 • ISSUE 3

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ISSN: 2397!0413 79


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House-Box (left) Jake ‘Steampunk’ Churchill (right) ‘Lord’ Dean Crago


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Reclaimed wood and stained glass ooze charm .

‘People are amazed at how cosy and warm the homes are throughout the winter. And you can always keep a kettle bubbling away on the stove.’

hirty years ago, public and media sentiment toward those seeking to live eco-conscious, unconventional or nomadic lifestyles could be described as at best suspicious, at worst downright hostile. The New Age Traveller movement – living in converted vans, buses and trucks – drew howls of outrage from the mainstream press and was engaged in a constant struggle of wills with the authorities. An increasingly fractious relationship reached its nadir with the infamous 1985 Battle of the Beanfield, in which police in riot gear violently apprehended over 500 travellers – the largest mass civil arrest in English legal history. While subsequent government legislation has made such mass vehicular movements rare, changes in public attitudes (neither awareness of ecological issues nor

distaste for consumerism are now regarded as threatening or even particularly leftfield standpoints) combined with technological advances and the rising cost of living have all meant that ‘alternative’ domiciliary set-ups are now appealing to a wider section of society than ever, and are seen as financially sustainable, even prudent. One trend that has gained particular traction in recent years is living ‘off-grid’; that is, independently of all public utilities, and being selfsufficient in power, heating, plumbing, even water. Showing that this approach to living is now not merely viable but potentially supremely comfortable is Dean Crago, who has lived off-grid himself and five years ago set up House-Box, a company that converts mobile or static units – everything from buses to shipping containers to treehouses to, as the name suggest, horseboxes – into luxury, off-grid living spaces. His ambitions were originally more prosaic. ‘My partner Hannah and I just wanted a vehicle for us and the dog to schlep


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around in for the summer, without all our money going out on rent and bills,’ explains Dean, now 31. ‘So about 10 years ago we converted an old school minibus. I’d always been into surfing and it was brilliant to drive around here or in Europe with a mattress in the back, park up by a beach in the morning – often still in my pyjamas – jump out and hit the waves. It was just about that freedom of life on the road.’

He became fascinated with off-grid design and research. More vehicle conversions followed, becoming increasingly ambitious and, as happens as one gets older, gearing more and more towards comfortable living. ‘I wanted the mobility and relaxed, rent free, environmentally responsible lifestyle of a home on wheels, but didn’t see why you should need to sacrifice the luxuries you’d associate with a conventional bricks and mortar house,’ says Dean.

(above) RECLAIM’s publisher’s converted horsebox.


When he eventually converted a horsebox – a 1979 Bedford TK – he knew he was on the right track. ‘Horseboxes are brilliant for conversion into living spaces. They’re a good size, typically from about 6 x 2.5 x 2.5 metres. Unlike many trucks and vans, they are quite rectangular and boxy in their proportions; they don’t slope inward towards the roof, so you get maximum living space to play with, and the area extending over the cab is extra spacious to give room for the 83

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Each conversion is completely individual.

horses – great for putting a bed in. Also, many of the older ones are beautiful wooden vehicles, with real charm and character.’ Dean took his converted horsebox to the 2011 Sunrise offgrid festival. The vehicle drew a lot of positive comments, but it was not just the level of interest that suggested that he could turn it into a business, but the broad range of people who showed enthusiasm. It appealed, unsurprisingly, to traditional traveller types – including those who have evolved out of the New Age scene of the 1980s and early 1990s, touched on above – but also to middle class urbanites; the environmentally conscientious; and those looking for house downsizing or even a cool and ecologically sound holiday home. This inspired him to later that year set up House-Box, which he now runs with business partner Jake Churchill at their workshop near Glastonbury in Somerset. The two had previously worked together running a reggae sound system and organising events, including the Babylon Uprising stage at the Glastonbury festival. They take one-off commissions

rather than churning out lines of stock, meaning each off-grid conversion project they undertake is time consuming but also completely individual.


What has really helped to make it viable has been advances in energy technology. Solar panels and battery systems can now store enough energy, even in the British winter, to power almost everything you might want – lights, speakers, TVs, computers. Due to weight constraints though, it’s impractical to carry enough solar panels and batteries for appliances that require sustained bursts of high heat, such as electric cookers or water boilers. For these items, liquid petroleum gas (LPG) is used. This tends to be very economical though. ‘Even if living in the unit full time,’ says Dean, ‘your LPG outlay will be only £10 or £15 a month and will literally be your only utility bill.’ Water comes through technically finessed rainwaterharvesting. Rain is collected in guttering and funnelled


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‘I wanted the mobility and rent free, environmentally responsible lifestyle of a home on wheels, but didn’t see why YOU should sacrifice the luxuries.’ Feel at home even when you’re on the road.

down through a mesh filter, sediment filter, charcoal and finally a UV filter. The result, says Dean ‘is not only pure, it’s delicious’. There’s almost no wastage. Composting toilets and sanitation systems for instance require little water and are clean, hygienic and environmentally sound. House-Box can install wood-burning stoves for both heating and cooking. ‘People are amazed at how cosy and warm the homes are throughout the winter,’ says Dean. ‘And you can always keep a kettle bubbling away on the stove.’ The diverse types of people who have enquired about conversions has surprised Dean, and is perhaps a sign that the trend is set to become more mainstream. He says that at one end there are, for instance, market stall holders and circus performers – that is, people who need to travel a lot for their job, but would still like to feel like they’re at home even when they’re on the road. But then there are more conventionally settled people looking for an outdoor office space; a playroom for the children; a glamping holiday home; or a guest-room

for the back garden. A big selling point with renewable energy is that after the initial (admittedly not trivial) outlay, bills are minimal. ‘When Hannah and I lived in the horsebox our only outgoings after fuel, road tax and insurance, which we’d have had to pay anyway of course, was the £15 a month on LPG. That’s it. Before then, in a house, our rent, bills, rates and so on had come to around £500 or £600 a month. So it’s a vast saving.’ Indeed it is. Two years ago US investment bank JP Morgan announced, probably to the chagrin of major energy suppliers, that rising costs of mainstream utilities, combined with the increasing affordability of renewable technologies, meant that ‘analysis suggests utility customers may be positioned to eliminate their use of the power grid’. In short, off-grid is potentially becoming cheaper than on-grid. This has ramifications far beyond converted horseboxes: it means that the very business model on which the developed world’s conventional energy supply is built may soon be 85

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(right) Dean in the House-Box workshop.

‘we can put showers and wetrooms in, full kitchens, bookcases, fine metalwork... we relish a challenge and have accepted all kinds of weird and wonderful requests.’

undermined by the simple economics of off-grid living. Something like 100,000 people in this country are now living off-grid, mostly on barges in our canals and waterways, but increasingly in converted static or mobile land spaces. The reference to people living on canal barges is particularly apposite here. Like them, habitees of a converted bus or van have the choice of parking in one place – mooring up, essentially – but with the option, if they so wish, to set off on a whim and see a bit of the world. And like barges, the appeal has spread from 20 or 30 years ago when they attracted a very specific, hardy and committed type of dweller, to a whole new breed of uptakers: hipsters, second-homers, eco-warriors and – more and more often – simply ordinary people looking for a way of living and working in expensive cities like London, while avoiding hefty energy bills and exorbitant rents. Like barges too, you need regular, light maintenance. Nothing too demanding – checking the batteries are okay, filling the wood burner – and Dean says that it puts you in an aware, mindful state of being, tuned into your surrounds: ‘It’s empowering.’

It’s the creative challenge though that drives Dean and Jake, and the desire to show that a converted space can not only be more economical and ecologically sustainable than conventional living, but more beautiful and luxurious too. ‘Everything we do is bespoke, and the possibilities are endless. We’ve been asked about converting double-decker buses, old ambulances, boats, shipping crates, garden sheds… Then the sky’s the limit.


‘We can put in showers and wetrooms, full kitchens, bookcases, fine metalwork… we relish a challenge and have accepted all kinds of weird and wonderful requests – oak staircases, hidden drawers, ramps. One customer needed a heated recessed python-tank! We’re currently helping design and build a live-in trailer for a guy who requires a wheelchair and hoist. We absolutely love what we do. It’s all about attention to detail, about not compromising.’ Dean and Jake work on only one main project at a time, and a conversion can typically take two to four months to


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complete. They don’t provide the vehicles or get involved under the bonnet in the mechanical side of things, preferring to focus on what they are expert in, but are happy to advise on what would or wouldn’t be suitable for conversion. So what might it cost to convert a truck or horsebox? ‘With such an individual service it varies hugely. But a basic conversion into a unique, year-round liveable and fully kitted space could be from £20,000 to £50,000. Bear in mind though

that for a conventional mobile home of similar dimensions, you might be talking four or five times that amount. And the quality, detail and workmanship with a bespoke build from us will be far superior.’ If you’d like to try out off-grid living, contact Dean. Many owners for whom he’s converted use their homes seasonally, and rent them out for glamping excursions in between. Terms like ‘use their homes seasonally’ and ‘glamping excursions’ do remind us that we’re a million miles from battles in beanfields. Living in a van no longer provokes the furious spittle of tabloid journalists or the ire of truncheonwielding coppers. It may not be such a political act as it was 30 years ago. But, in breaking ties with energy companies, boosting autonomy and taking control, it may just be a quietly more subversive one. It’s certainly a more comfortable one. » For more information, go to or contact You can also find House-Box on 87

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(opposite page) Items at The Old Potting Shed stand. (left) Exhibitor Peter Sohier & Co’s stand.




alking around the enormous Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair in London’s Battersea Park I hear a medley of accents and languages. Italian women with fingers adorned in gold and winking diamonds talk quickly into their iPhones and men in their early 20s wearing all black and Rayban sunglasses conspire while admiring an original Andy Warhol and a Banksy hung side by side. Their girlfriends admire a 1960s brass-and-Perspex commode and a Tweed-clad English woman with immaculate hair and a string of pearls around her décolletage admires a pair of stone horses with beady eyes, relics of a 1950s garden, their patina dull and their flanks covered in a thin layer of green. ‘Pieces with moss are very popular’ says a heavily accented voice behind me, ‘and living moss, well...’ The tall Belgian in a navy suit jacket and jeans signals with his hands to somewhere high above me. ‘Well then the prices can go through the roof’.

This man is Peter Sohier who co-owns Peter Sohier & Co with his wife Lucy, an antique furniture and garden store based in Belgium. The couple have been exhibiting at the London fair for five of the 30 years that it has been running, and their stand is the place to go for ornamental garden pieces and home furnishings from the 1800s to 1900s. Peter and Lucy present a well-curated collection of ornamental stoneware, a collection of oyster baskets, a 19th century white wrought iron bench that they bought in the south of France and stripped back, plus some larger ornaments such as two almost identical brass rimmed mirrors and a wall of Martinelli lights from the 1970s that look like melted marshmallows. On a marble topped garden table are a set of heavy cast iron ammunition shells from 1820 that Peter and Lucy are using as candle holders, a genius way of upcycling pieces with a fascinating history. 89

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Top tips Allow two to three hours to fully explore. Retrace your steps to ensure nothing is missed. Ideally come on the first or second day to find the best items. Dealers store extra pieces behind the scenes at the fair so find a dealer you love and revisit their store on more than one day to check what else they have kept back. Ask questions about the piece you’re buying. Book the delivery of your item at the fair exit. Keep the red ticket given to you with a purchase, you’ll need it to exit the building.

‘The French garden stuff is never perfect but our customers like it that way. We call them (the imperfections) love bites.’ Diary dates The Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair is held at Battersea Park, London, SW11 4NJ. For more information and admission prices, Spring 2016: 19th 24th April Autumn 2016: 27th September - 2nd October Winter 2017: 24 - 29 January

‘The French garden stuff is never perfect’, says Lucy as she gestures to a chip in the table. ‘But our customers like it that way, we call them love bites,’ she smiles. The pair started their business in 1999 after meeting in their previous jobs in a fashion store. They were given a few collectables by Peter’s grandmother and started selling those and other key pieces picked up at flea markets in Belgium before being invited to their first fair in the south of France. What started as a shared passion flourished into two full time careers as antiques dealers. Peter and Lucy are just one of 148 stands at the fair, which takes place in London three times a year and sells everything from antique furniture to clock faces the size of Big Ben. Absolutely everything has a story and everyone from Paul Smith to Kit Kemp and Victoria Beckham to everyday browsers and vintage interior aficionados can be found there, searching for that perfect piece of design.

Chatting with stall holders reveals not just the date of that pair of ornamental bird bath you’re coveting but where it was sourced and who owned it prior to the dealer in front of you, and each stall has been laid out like a film set, in a style that will help you to visualise where the piece will look best in your house.


It’s a great place to visit for unusual garden ornaments, and to spot trends for the year ahead. ‘Trends are harder to pin down with antique and vintage collections because of the timelessness of their nature,’ says the fair’s communications consultant Pippa Roberts. ‘This year we have seen a great deal of interest in brass and the more polished art deco pieces but what sells well is more likely to be dictated by the seasons, so in the summer we have more garden ephemera and in the winter more sparkly pieces


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Beautiful items by French Country Living Antiques

Check out these exhibitors Peter and Lucy Sohier, for decorative items, architectural and garden ornaments. Nicholas Gifford-Mead for urns, wrought iron furniture and gates.

(above) A selection of antiques and vintage items on display at Peter Sohier & Co. (below) Eye catching finds at the Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair.

Graham Child of Garden Artefacts for smaller garden accessories, including tools and antique spades and forks. Serendipity has garden arches, benches, stoneware and urns. Martin D Johnson Antiques for garden antiques including statuary, seating and industrial window-mirrors. Gabrielle de Giles has a great eye for antique garden gates, grills and items for interiors.

for the home such as mirrors and glassware.’ From the powder pink velvet sofa I saw priced at £1,600 to the collection of three marble pyramids on Peter and Lucy’s stand that would look perfect on an outdoor table (£240 for the three), there is something for all budgets. The aforementioned moss-covered horses were getting a lot of attention when I passed by and were on for £1,895, but on another stand amongst the Tiffany and Galle glassware there were also some art deco cut-glass champagne flutes for £18 each. ‘Most people who come here are not so concerned with the price of things,’ says Peter. ‘They let their heart make the decisions for them. They will decide right then and there if they want to take something home with them or not.’ As I make my way towards the exit, something catches my eye. A print of a date palm made on an antique press, handpainted in jewel-toned watercolours. It is beautiful beyond measure and it stops me in my tracks and practically calls to me from its protective plastic sheath. Before I know it I’m handing over £50 and leaving the fair with a smirk on my face. Peter was right, I think, that purchase was made with the heart.

Although they specialise in antique painted furniture French Country Living have pieces of garden furniture and often antique statuary, tubs and planters.

frenchcountrylivingantiques. com Jill Palmer Antiques has unusual decorative pieces for the garden. John Bird Antiques has garden pieces, including antique and glass cloches. He’s also a keen plantsman and offers garden design! 91

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Step By Step Project: Neoclassical-style Chair I have a thing about chairs. They’re so inviting and have such distinctive personalities whether you see them perched singly or in a row. Shapely matrons, elegant girls, upright gentlemen, cheeky young chaps, quiet discreet ones, pretty ones, loud ornate ones and short practical ones. I love them all! When I saw this particular chair, I took an immediate shine to it. The seat pad was very saggy and stained but that’s easy to fix, as it’s a drop-in chair seat, so you can take it out and recover it yourself. The chair is for the warehouse at Annie Sloan HQ in Oxford where we all work. We haven’t been there long and are still decorating it around the theme of a vintage industrial warehouse, so I transformed both the frame of this chair and the seat pad by painting both.





love finding pieces of furniture that have maybe seen better days, or just no longer have use for someone, and yet I know with a little bit of love and paint, can be utterly transformed into something new and personal. I’m always on the lookout for pieces of furniture that have been discarded, be it in the local charity shop, a second hand fair or even in a skip. I have been known to stop the car to ‘rescue’ a chair that has obviously been discarded on the side of the road, and this attitude has been passed down to my son, Felix, who also keeps an eye out for abandoned furniture, wherever he is. When buying things from second hand shops I always give it a thorough check to see if there is any damage. If it’s a table or a chair I turn the piece upside down and have a proper look at the bottom, checking for any significant damage to the structure. If there are small cracks that aren’t actually affecting the body of the piece I know that I can cover them up with my paint or a little bit of wood filler. If it is significantly broken in any way, I don’t buy it, however much of a bargain it is. If you are anything like me, I will have high intentions of fixing and mending but life, and all it’s business, as always, finds a way to intervene. Inspired by my stockist LASSCO, I’m now on the lookout for more interesting pieces of architectural salvage. These can be something like industrial fittings, antique frames or beautiful handles, something that belonged in an interesting building or warehouse once upon a time, but now can be repurposed for another use. With anything that I find and I want to paint, it’s just a quick clean to wipe away any dirt or old grease marks and then it’s ready to be painted!

(left) Annie Sloan with various salvage pieces.

STEP ONE I began by turning the chair upside down and painting it with my Arles Chalk Paint™, a deep sort of mustard, as yellow is both a Neoclassical and a warehouse colour, so it covered both style camps. It is best to start it upside down as this stops you missing bits and shortens the time hugely. The old varnish was quite shiny so I found I needed two coats on some of it. STEP TWO Once dry, I applied a thin layer of my Clear Soft Wax to seal and protect the surface. You can apply wax with a lint free cloth or a small pointy brush is great for getting into details. I wiped off the excess wax with some cloth and stood back.

» To buy materials or find out more, go to anniesloan. com 93

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STEP THREE To bring out the elegant shape I worked a little of my Dark Soft Wax into the arms and some of the back and legs. Dark Soft Wax deepens colour and gives it an aged patina. Here I wanted to bring out the delicate texture of the brush marks. People are often quite alarmed when they see me doing this bit as I’m quite generous with the wax and rub it in quite briskly. I sometimes leave it anything up to a few minutes so it almost dries before wiping it down and then cleaning it off with Clear Soft Wax. STEP FOUR Moving on to the seat pad, I plumped for my greyed blue colour, ‘Duck Egg Blue’, which is complementary to Arles Chalk Paint™ as blue and orange are complementary colours. I painted the colour directly onto the fabric by wetting the brush so the paint spread out a little to make a gentle wobbly stripe. I used some masking tape and diluted the paint with 50% water and painted it thinly. I wiped it over with a very lightly damp cloth once it was dry and then it was good to go! So now it sits proudly in the entrance to the warehouse looking elegant and yet industrial cool.


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(left) An old bureau is transformed by Annie Sloan.

Step By Step Project: Silvered Vintage Bureau I came across this great bureau that I couldn’t resist updating. I think it would have been made in the 1930s or 1940s judging by it’s rounded shape, the rectangular front with two drawers and four vertical rectangular handles. With an art deco look in mind I thought of colours and techniques that were prevalent around the time, particularly silvered finishes. STEP ONE I used my Aluminium Leaf as it is much cheaper than silver leaf. I applied my Gold Size (glue) to the surface using a nice, soft bristled brush to avoid creating brush marks. Just a word of warning - wash your brush immediately after you have finished, if the glue dries you probably have to say goodbye to the brush! I applied the Size directly to the wood and, after a few minutes, the Size had changed from a slight purplish tinge to completely clear. This is when I knew it was ready for the leaf to be applied. STEP TWO With one hand, I held the sheet of Leaf and with the other a clean soft brush with which to push the Leaf on and into the wood. I kept working, over lapping and abutting the Leaf slightly. Small gaps will not matter and sort of add to the look. At one point your work will look very messy with bits of leaf everywhere, but don’t worry.

STEP THREE Once you have finished applying the Leaf all over, use Clear Soft Wax and a cotton cloth over the piece. This will help tidy everything, its pushes the Leaf into the crevices of the wood grain and stops the leaf from looking too shiny. Once the Clear Wax is dry applying my Dark Wax over it is when the magic really works! The shiny surface suddenly looks like old silver. STEP FOUR To give the piece real pizazz, I painted the inside of the bureau with my bright red Emperor’s Silk Chalk Paint™. Then to separate the red from the silver I painted the moulded border in my colour ‘Graphite’, along with the handles on the front. The legs were also painted in ‘Graphite’, to help them ‘disappear’ which I think works. I hope I have done this art deco bureau justice, I just love it!

Out now Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint® Workbook, A Practical Guide To Mixing Colour and Making Style Choices, £14.99, is published by Cico Books 95

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Wood into the





ith a passion for design, an appreciation of the quality of reclaimed wood and a devotion to sustainability, Hellen and Chris Barlow started up their company, Modish Living, three years ago. The couple work with talented independent craftsmen to produce beautiful reclaimed wood furniture that’s now not just a passing trend but for many, a life choice. Here, Reclaim finds out more.

Hellen, why use reclaimed wood? We absolutely love the rustic look and finish of reclaimed wood furniture. Every piece of furniture is unique and is made from wood which comes with it’s own story. The wood is full of life and character, and is beautiful with modern interiors such as soft upholsteries. We’ve also found there are more people now searching for good quality furniture that’s both stylish and sustainable and a major reason for us deciding on reclaimed wood was for eco friendly and sustainable reasons. Using reclaimed wood not only reduces waste, but creates less of a demand on cutting down trees.

(opposite) Mary Rose reclaimed boat wood table, from £499 (right) Bench from £299

The history behind reclaimed wood is intriguing. Where is your wood sourced? The wood we use really varies and comes from a whole range of places, having had different uses. We recently had a batch of wood which came out of an old factory that was being demolished to make room for new housing. The wood can be quite rough when we get it, with old rusty nails sticking out and deep markings. Our craftsmen will pull each nail out by hand and work to keep the markings as a feature. It takes real skill and dedication to work with such old wood, as it behaves differently to new wood. Some of the wood used in the Indian ranges, can be quite colourful, such as in the Mary Rose and Riya range. That wood often comes from old Indian houses and in some cases old fishing boats. All the wood used for our furniture tends to vary between 70 to 200 years old. As long as the wood is solid, our craftsmen will always try to work with it and make something beautiful. Do you source the wood yourselves? The craftsmen source their own wood. Roger, a master craftsman based in the New Forest, likes to source wood locally, within a 50 mile radius. He’s always very keen to know the history of wood he’s working with. Darrell, a craftsman in the north, tends to source the thick joists he uses throughout his designs and these might come from anywhere in the UK. Could you tell us about your craftsmen? Roger has been making furniture for over 45 years. He works in a stunning country barn in the heart of the New Forest, with his son and his son-in-law. The three of them work closely together producing truly beautiful pieces of furniture. Rather than plane the wood, they hand sand all their table tops, to allow the natural wood textures to be felt. Whenever you enter their workshop, you can feel their passion for creating something beautiful.


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(left) Upcycled chairs, £220 per pair (below left) Marius sideboard, £485 (below) Mary Rose reclaimed wood sideboard, £675

Darrell works in the northern workshop managing a team of five people. Quality is everything to them! When walking through the workshop, you can really sense the enthusiasm from their team, all enjoying and taking pride in their work. Furniture making has been passed on through generations in this workshop, where Darrell’s father has passed on his traditional skills to him. We hear you work from a cabin in the garden? While setting up the business in April 2013, everything was run from our home kitchen table. The table would regularly be covered in magazines, paperwork and constantly had a computer screen on it. Ten months in, the kitchen table needed to be hijacked back for home use, allowing us to separate work and home life. We decided to convert our garden summer house into a functional bright and insulated office. Now, our head office is run out of the summerhouse, which is surrounded by trees and birds and borders onto a waterfall. It’s an idyllic place to work, calming and energising, and we both love it. Have you always been a fan of salvage? I have a real weakness for salvaging old chairs, and many years ago I found myself training as a furniture upholsterer just so I could bring more chairs back to life. I still do this in my spare time, although I have more chairs than I need around our house now.

Do your business ethics extend into your own home? Absolutely! Most of our furniture will have a story. Our craftsman Roger made our oak dining table for us, using sustainable oak sourced locally. Darrell has made several pieces of reclaimed wood furniture for us, including our bed, which came out of an old mill factory. My gran’s original 1950s chairs have a prominent place in our living room, which I brought back from one of my family trips to Norway. They sit perfectly next our old 1970s record player. I love to mix things up in the home, blending modern with old styles. Both home and office have lots of reclaimed wood furniture! Do you offer a bespoke service? Working with a small number of workshops in the UK, as well as two small family run businesses overseas, we are fortunate to now be offering one of the widest ranges of reclaimed wood furniture in the UK. We usually sell our ranges directly to homeowners, although as we now offer a free bespoke design service, we do occasionally get some interesting projects. Manicomio, a restaurant in Chelsea, commissioned us to build a steel and reclaimed wood table on wheels for their restaurant. Due to the size and weight, it was an interesting project and looks amazing on site. And when you’re not working on Modish Living? I love hot yoga. Not only does it keep me a little in shape, but although strenuous, it’s mentally relaxing. Yoga is about the only thing that gives me real time out. I tend to go three times a week, but would love to find time to do it daily. I also live four minutes walk away from Brighton beach, so when I’m not working or at yoga, you’re likely to find me on the beach with my two dogs, particularly if the sun is out. » Find out more at


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FABULOUS ORIGINAL TRAVEL POSTERS FROM YESTERYEAR ...BRITAIN'S MOST ECLECTIC RANGE OF RAILWAY POSTERS Just like the Flying Scotsman many of our posters have undergone professional restoration and conservation to give them a new lease of life.


With over 250 posters in stock, our posters were produced by British railway companies or their affiliates and London Transport during the 20th Century. Looking for a particular poster? Join our ‘Request List’ and we will notify you as soon as the poster you want becomes available.

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UNIQUE Meet Lyle, one of Hayley’s creations.





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Hayley’s beautiful sketches.

How did Rust Bucket begin? My mum, Georgina Wilding, is a real maker. When I was growing up I used to watch her make beautiful antique reproduction dolls and teddy bears. I was always a bit of a daydreamer, always doing drawings and making up stories, then about five years ago I was studying A-level Art at Stroud College and when I did a module on sculpture, I got a real buzz. I didn’t have money to buy materials like plaster of paris or clay though, and I’ve got no patience, so I went into the shed in my mum and stepdad’s garden and thought: ‘I’m going to make something with bits and pieces.’ Using the parts of an old television that my grandpa had given me, an old bread tin, and a few other bits, I started making a robot-type creature. Then I discovered a bag of glass dolls’ eyes Mum had given me years earlier. When I attached the eyes this little creature began to come to life. I felt so excited! I named the first one Cecil. From then on I loved inventing these characters from rusty, broken objects and watching as they came to life, developing a personality of their own. Do you have metalwork or construction training? I have no formal training at all in that area. I’ve got an A-level in Art and Design but my stepdad taught me everything I know about putting pieces of metal together. I used to ask him how to attach one piece to another and he would show me. Now I know how things go together. It’s something I couldn’t really learn at college because it’s so specific to my needs.

Your workshop is a chicken shed? On the outside it’s a chicken shed in the grounds of my mum and stepdad’s farm. Inside, it’s full of junk and looks like I’ve been burgled! I have a long table in the middle, which is full of junk; tins, metal, dolls’ arms and legs, broken toys, glass eyes and on either side I have work benches and tools. I like my work to be fixed properly and securely so they’re screwed, bolted, and sometimes welded together. I’ve got about thirty little creatures dotted around the workshop ready for an exhibition in May. I always have music playing in the background as I work too. I’ve got a pretty eclectic taste but right now I’m listening to Caravan Palace – a French electro swing band. Where do you source the materials for your creatures? I look everywhere: flea markets, charity shops, car boot sales and my scrap metal man. Even when I’m walking my son, Seth, to school I’ve got my eyes open. Once, on the school run I spotted a set of legs on the ground. They were actually strips of metal from something to do with plumbing I think, but I knew they were the perfect shape and size for the piece I was working on at the time. What kind of objects do you use for your sculptures? Tins, washers, cogs, 1950s plastic dolls’ parts, car parts, bike parts. Anything metal, tin and wood that has an interesting shape, or an age to it. I look at the form and colour and let the materials speak to me. Can you tell us about your creative process? I start with a piece of old metal. I hold it, look at it and then add bits and take bits away. You’ve got to not think too much and become relaxed in the process. During the creation of each creature I look at the proportion. They don’t have human proportions, but they’ve got to look right. When I add eyes and they become alive, that’s when their character starts to stand out. It’s very much led intuitively. I do drawings in between for me to work out how I will put it together and make it stand up, but I don’t make a plan at the beginning. Take the lion I’m making at the moment. I did a doodle of a lion a couple of years ago, so I pulled that out when I started making this lion and it gave me an idea of what I wanted. Most of the time though I don’t know what I’m making until it’s made.

Hayley in her workshop happily creating.

Your creatures have great names, such as Cecil, Journey’s End, Mrs Frog’s Cousin and Ready For An Alien Invasion. How do you decide on names? Sometimes their names just come to me during the making process, other times it’s at the end. I feel like they’re in charge, not the other way round. Like it’s the creature’s little voice talking to me. Sometimes I use the names of characters


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from books or films, whereas others have a title explaining their emotions at the time – like one I did called ‘You Forgot I Was Here.’ It’s to let you know their story and their way of thinking. I’ve never named them after friends or family because they might be offended! When did you make your first sale? I don’t do it as a business. I tried it once, but it didn’t really work. I had a year when I had loads of gallery orders and specific commissions that I was being paid for, but I found it difficult to work like that because I like to be led by the materials I find. It wasn’t as creative as I liked and I was getting more and more disheartened by something that I used to love, so I cancelled all the orders. Now, I make them for the love of making. It’s my passion, my therapy. And if I decide to sell one once it’s made, then I do. But there are some I just can’t let go. I’ve sold all of my early creatures to fund other projects, but I still regret letting Cecil, my first one go, probably partly because he was made with my grandpa’s old TV. I’m not materialistic and Seth and I live in a mobile home in the grounds of my mum and stepdad’s farm in Gloucestershire. We lead a simple life, so we manage financially. What does your son Seth think of your creatures? When I told Seth I was going to be speaking to Reclaim he told me: ‘You need to tell people who inspires you. You need to put me on top of your list because I do!’ And it’s true, he is a great inspiration. Recently he told me I had to make a lion, so I did. He has some strange ideas which is nice, and he often comes into my workshop and grabs an armful of stuff to take back to his bedroom. He’s good at coming up with ideas, and good at getting me to think in a different way.

Where to see and buy Hayley’s exhibition ‘Forged Tales’ is on at The Guildhall, Eastgate Street, Gloucester between May 7th – June 25th, gloucesterguildhall. Some of Hayley’s items are on sale at evergreenartcafe.

Do you exhibit your work? Yes. I’ve exhibited a collaboration project I did, and done a few group exhibitions. But this May I’ve got my first solo exhibition ‘Forged Tales’ at The Guildhall in Gloucester. I’ve been making sculptures for that for a year. If things sell at the exhibition then that’s great, and if they don’t then I’ll bring them home. What about the future? I don’t like living in conventional houses, I prefer little spaces that you can sort of burrow into. So Seth and I are moving from our 1960s mobile home to live on a double-decker bus later in the year. I actually got together with my scrap metal man, Chris Walker, about three years ago. He’s got an old dairy he’s doing up for holiday lettings so we’re going to create my new workshop in an old barn there. Then, it’s all down to what bits and pieces I come across I suppose! ! Follow Hayley’s work at rustbucketworkshop or


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(left) Bruiserbot. (above) Inspired drawings. (below) Lyle, once a Golden Syrup can.


(Clockwise from right) Block Man, Daft Donkey, Claude, Childsplay. 105

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dvertising is not a modern phenomena; signs for brothels, inns and businesses can be found on the buildings of Pompeii and Herculaneum (some are quite shocking even to our modern sensibilities) and long before the age of widespread literacy they were often symbolic, with hanging signs acting as a visual aid for the illiterate; an outsize shoe, a pair of spectacles or a mortar and pestle, each denoting the trade of the establishment it was advertising – some of these, such as the barber’s pole or the pawnbroker’s three golden orbs, are still in use today and their symbolism derives from tangible references such as the bloody bandages left to dry in the wind by medieval barber surgeons and the gold balls in the coat of arms of the famous Medici banking family of Florence. These types of signs are very collectable, particularly amongst vernacular and folk art collectors. However, the advent of mass consumerism called for a different medium of advertising and with the printed word and increased literacy came a move towards more accessible signage. Painted signs and the art of the sign-maker were of course well regarded but a mass produced solution in the form of vitreous enamelling (fusing glass on to iron) became the popular medium for manufacturing signs to fulfil this burgeoning demand. Early developments in the process were made in Germany but were patented in Britain in the 1870s. Being strong, hardwearing and fade resistant its use as a suitable medium for exterior advertising was quickly

realised, with the earliest centres of manufacture being based in Birmingham and Wolverhampton in the 1880s. The move towards steel plate made production faster and methods for stencilling the designs aided increased production. By the early days of the 20th century most corner shops and businesses had permanent enamel signs affixed to their exterior walls (Although they were used internally too). Today, we talk about product placement but it’s nothing new. Signage was strategically placed in locations such as railway stations. Signs became landmarks and the durability of these metal missives is testament to their longevity. Imagine a High Street, circa 1910, bedecked with a plethora of brightly coloured signs (sometimes referred to as street jewellery) advertising all manner of products from newspapers, tobacco, groceries and washing aids to bicycles and motorcars. Today, we can only see these streets represented in sepia and black and white photographs and its quite hard to imagine how the abundance of signs would have looked – it must have been quite a sight! The varied bold imagery often included catchy slogans proclaiming the properties of the goods being sold, such as ‘Spratt’s, Builds up a Dog’, ‘Robin Starch, Does not Stick to the Iron’ or ‘Pheasant Margarine, Churned with Rich Cream’ – although this does not sound terribly appealing by modern standards. The hey-day of the enamel sign is considered to be the 1920s and 30s, however, with the advent of the Second World War iron and steel was needed to support the war effort and

(above) A Milkmaid brand sign with Chromo manufacturers mark, £600-£700. (left) A selection of enamel advertising signs. 107

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(above) A painted wooden advertising sign for an optician in the form of a pair of painted spectacles. Despite being re-painted they achieved £420 at a recent auction. (right) Lisa Lloyd with the BP ‘Winner’ sign.

Where to buy: Chippenham Auctions, Tel: 01249 447478 chippenham What to read: The Art of Street Jewellery by Stuart Baglee, New Cavendish Books, 2006

many signs were melted down during this period. Although production continued throughout the 1950s and 60s the American style of advertising using posters and hoardings, which were cheaper to produce and could be frequently replaced, became more widespread and enamel signs were eventually superseded. So what is it that makes enamel signs enduringly popular, given that many areas of collecting have so regularly fallen in and out of fashion in recent years? Firstly, there is a great nostalgia for signage in general. For some slightly inexplicable reason we have an amazing propensity to bring the outside in. We love the idea of relocating items, displacing them into situations where they don’t belong, perhaps acquiring a slightly surreal aura in the process. Signs fit this remit amazingly well and it’s not at all unusual to see signs in people’s kitchens and the walls of large apartment style warehouses. Collectors are prone to buy within certain genres too, so it’s typical to see motoring enthusiasts with varied selections of tinplate signs advertising everything from oil to tyres. In fact, I was lucky enough to come across one of the rarest and most sought after tinplate motoring signs while working on the Antiques Roadshow at Walmer Castle. The BP ‘Winner’ sign as it is commonly known, epitomises an age of speed and discovery with its stylised racing car crossing the finish line. I valued it at an amazing £15,000-£20,000, which amply illustrates how much serious collectors are prepared to pay for such rarities. For those with smaller budgets there are plenty of alternatives. Richard Edmonds of Chippenham Auctions runs specialist advertising and tinplate sign sales and I discussed the various pros and cons of collecting signs with him. One sage piece of advice was to ask for advice! Despite the seemingly indestructible nature of enamelled metal they do rust and condition is important. Some are cleverly restored or re-painted, others get cut down and there are plenty of reproductions around too, so it’s worth being a little careful. The enamel should bleed over the edge of the plate. If it doesn’t it may be altered (look out for sharp edges). Some are just

plain popular so a typical ‘Nectar Tea’ sign, which comes in two sizes will cost around £250-£350. A Fry’s Chocolate ‘Five Boy’s’ sign, which famously depicts a young boy with several different facial emotions comes with a tale too. Apparently he was the photographer’s son and the image of him crying was perpetrated by tying a rag soaked in photographic chemicals around his neck! Expect to pay £700-£1000! Pictorial signs, such as the large ‘Wincairn’s Nerve Tonic’, tend to be more popular – and regularly make £2,000 – although wording too can make a big difference. The Spratt’s sign for pussies is a case in point and will command a price two or three times that of the dog version. So what advice would I give to new buyers in the field? Buy what you like and the best you can afford. Beware of alterations or restorations. Be careful on the internet, it’s awash with fakes and reproductions. Go to a specialist saleroom and talk to someone who knows their subject. Above all have fun! ! Lisa Lloyd is a miscellaneous specialist on the BBC Antiques Roadshow and runs an antiques business, She was previously Director of Rosebery’s Auctioneers in London for 16 years.


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(above) A Spratts ‘pussy’ sign with a rather suggestive slogan which is possibly instrumental in the high prices these achieve by comparison to the dog versions, £800-£1000. (top left) A Swan Vestas sign with bold typography, £400-£600. (right) A good Wincarnis tonic pictorial enamel sign depicting an Edwardian lady in a motor car. Appealing to both the collector of enamel signs and also collectors of motoring items. Despite some restoration this recently sold for £2,000 at auction. (left) The ‘Ace of Spades’ sign, £800-£1200. (bottom left) The iconic Fry’s Five Boys sign, £700-£1000. (bottom right) A Robin Starch pictorial sign, £400-£600. 109

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alking up the wide concrete staircase of this apartment block in Northern France you’d be forgiven for thinking you were anywhere in the world. But step past the threshold of the Perret Model Apartment in the port town of Le Havre and it’s as if you’ve gone back in time. I’ve come to this small town in Normandy, that many use as a drive-through en route to the rest of France, to view one of world’s best examples of a post-war rehousing project designed by Auguste Perret, an architect known for his expansive catalogue of concrete buildings and his admirable work in helping to re-accommodate around 80,000 Europeans made homeless as a result of the bombings of the Second World War. In northern France 500,000 buildings were destroyed in the 1940s leaving between two and three million people in Normandy, Northern Brittany, Alsace and Loraine homeless. Apartments like this that showcase the designs of the time are rare, and although there are Le Corbusier reconstructions from the 1950s in southern France, these are some of the only

examples that exactly replicate 1940s interiors in post-war government funded apartments, and with some of the best condition relics from the time. So much so that UNESCO recognised the town of Le Havre as a World heritage Site in 2010. I open the door to a wide open plan living room that would have been totally revolutionary in its day as homes were much more segmented prior to this. Light streams in from the large windows, illuminating a portfolio of teak furniture and midcentury designs that look very familiar to me. A collection of Eames style chairs sit facing each other around a low glass topped table, yellow floral patterned curtains frame a petite balcony and a large Split Leaf Philodendron sprouts from a white clay pot between the lounge and study with smaller leafy accruements adorning the glass and oak sideboard in the lounge. René Gabriel, Marcel Gascoin and André Beaudoin were employed to fashion these interiors at the time, and their designs, featuring the first wave of mass produced oak furniture marked a transition in France from art deco to 111

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The interior replicates 1940s government funded apartments.

Info Location: Maison du Patrimoine, 181 Rue de Paris, 76600 Le Havre, France T: + 33 2 35 22 31 22 Tourist websites: lehavretourisme. com To stay in a Perret-designed building try: Styles Le Havre Centre Auguste Perret From £51 per night Oscar Hotel From £36 per night

the more minimalist mid-century styles that would come to mimic Scandinavia design trends later. The furniture they created was functional, cheap to produce and built to cater to a wide range of people and requirements. In the galley kitchen a hanging rope rack is used to store pots and pans overhead to make up for not having a great deal of cupboard space. In fact everything here has been designed to maximise space; the bedrooms, a mint tiled bathroom and the study peel off in a modular way using sliding doors and partitions which open and close depending on the needs of the inhabitants. Perret was quoted as saying that he wanted every resident to have ‘the right to tranquillity, sunlight, air and space,’ whilst he wanted to ensure that his studio produced ‘something contemporary and sustainable’.


The interiors in shades of mint green, yellow, white and red are the perfect foil for this comprehensive and exacting collection of vintage pieces and furniture that makes this

show apartment feel as if you were reliving the life of a 1940s French housewife. Yet at the same time the interiors feel oddly current. Perhaps most impressive is the vast collection of accessories, including books, vases, pots and pans, toothbrushes, clothing, toys and art that have mostly been donated by members of the public or collected from vintage and antiques stores in the north of France. On my way out I notice a superbly intact paper grocery bag from a nearby bakery sitting on the kitchen table next to a teal recipe book for a Turmix soup maker, entitled Les Recettes Turmix. It’s these little details that make the apartment such a treasure and a must visit for anyone with an interest in vintage interiors. Everything here strikes a chord with the home décor fashions of the moment, the consoles, the plant life and the ceramic tiles. And everything has been set up as if the family who lived here in the 1940s had just popped out. I can easily imagine decorating my own home like the Perret Model Apartment. The residents of post-war Le Havre lived in style.


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Contact Heidi 07526166520

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(this and below right) The office of Belgian antiques dealer Axel Vervoordt.

Belgium The tour I personally lead most these days is our Belgian tour; all our best clients tend to visit Belgium. It might not be their only destination but it always appears as part of people’s itineraries and the reason for that is price. Belgium’s the best place for bargains, for sure. So if someone is coming over from the States to stock a

shop and wants some well priced dealer pieces, Frenchstyle and mid-century, let’s say, Belgium’s the place to go. One of my favourite places in Belgium is a fabulous luxury guesthouse in Antwerp named JVR108 that has a gorgeous antique shop just next door!


Antwerp Antiques Centre.


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Treasure Hunt




hile I was brought up in Oklahoma on my parents’ cattle ranch 30 miles from the nearest town my great grandparents were originally from England. I grew up hearing stories of European life and as a child I dreamt about travelling to Europe. When I was five I read a book about Venice – this magical city with roads made of water – and I was enchanted. Later, in school when we were asked to draw a picture of where we’d live when we grew up, I sketched a Venetian palazzo. I’ve always dreamed big. And while I don’t live in a palazzo, I do travel nearly each month in Venice for work. My life’s dream is being fulfilled! My love of antiquing began when, in 1999, my husband and I moved to Paris, where he was transferred with his job. Every weekend I’d hit the Paris flea markets, scouring those seven miles of antique-filled alleyways for kitchenalia

and French furniture. I had a passion for anything Louis XV, and vintage Chanel and Hermes. I became a little obsessed with vintiquing. Antiques are, I believe, the window into the soul of a society: a great way of exploring a nation. They are a way of travelling and exploring other cultures, other places and other times. They show how people lived and give a wonderful insight into a country’s culture.


When I first started shopping the Puce de Paris I would buy things for myself, then, when my friends saw my purchases, they asked me to help them shop. Spending other people’s money was fun and soon my friends were referring me to their friends. One day I woke up and realised I was helping people shop nearly every week of the year. It had become a full-time job, but I wasn’t getting paid! In 2007, I started writing the Antiques Diva blog. I chose the name because the antiquing lifestyle, in Paris especially,

(above) Toma Clark Haines. 115

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‘A ntiques are, I believe, the window into the soul of a society: a great way of exploring a nation. They show how people lived and give an insight into a country’s culture.’ j

Antiques at Mercanteinfiera.


I love being with clients in Tuscany, it’s just so magical. In some parts of the Tuscan countryside, down by Siena for example, the locals consider mid-century pieces second hand. It’s the stuff they got handed down from Grandma that they don’t really want, so there are great prices to be had. And I still love Venice; we shop in private palazzos and that’s an amazing experience! There, the two price system, tourist and local, operates more than anywhere else in the world but, because we’ve two locally based guides we get the local price. Last week I bought three glasses of Prosecco in St Mark’s Square for seven Euros! One of our Diva Agents in Venice, Orseola Barozzi, is the ancestor of the 5th

Doge of Venice. As long as there has been a Venice there has been a Barozzi, and those family connections give us unprecedented access. Glassware in Venice is brilliant, and statues and paintings. I’d say that for high end stuff Venice boasts museum quality pieces at more reasonable prices than other destinations. Honestly, people never believe it’s possible to buy in Venice, but it’s true. But perhaps my favourite place to shop in Italy is Mercanteinfiera – Italy’s largest antiques fair which is held in the spring and autumn in Parma.


is very diva-ish. Whenever I browsed antiques shops a glass of champagne would magically appear. At the time design blogs were in their infancy and, as I was the only person sharing my tips on antiquing in Europe, I developed a large following. I had the idea to turn the blog into a series of books, then readers began emailing asking me to take them on tours. ‘Oh no, I don’t do tours!’ I replied but then I realised I was being an idiot. People were offering to pay me money to do something I was already doing for free. Initially I set up the tour company on a really small scale - it was just me. Then, after five years in Paris, my husband was transferred to Amsterdam and The Antiques Diva & Co was officially born with tours along the Holland-Belgium-France route. In 2008 my husband was transferred to Berlin and in the exact same month we moved The Antiques Diva & Co was mentioned in a couple of US publications. Afterwards, when I opened my email inbox, there were so many requests for tours that I screamed. Logistically it just wasn’t possible to do them all by myself. I needed help. So I asked a friend who has a Masters in Fine Art to help me give tours on a temporary basis, until the demand died down. Well, that was six years ago and we now have 21 tour guides in eight countries. We’re the largest antiquing tour company in Europe and, in November last year, the Paris Flea Market’s Paul Bert Serpette named us their only official approved guide. For an American-owned business to be acknowledged in France is a real accolade and I felt my life had come full circle since those early shopping days in Paris.


All my tours are à la carte - the client tells me what they’re looking for and how much they want to spend and I’ll tell them how many days we’ll need to find the pieces. Then


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Antiques dealer Daniel Larsson’s beautiful items.


Swedish is always high on the list of requests from clients and I work with an antiques dealer named Daniel Larsson there. He has one of my favourite shops in the world, in Helsingborg, and takes our clients to the very places where he stocks his own store. That’s amazing access. On a personal level, I love Swedish style. I had a house fire three years ago and, afterwards, with an empty apartment to furnish, I took our Sweden tour and our England tour – Sweden because I knew I could go there and get exactly what I needed in a short space of time and England because – I’m convinced the best of France has actually already ended up in Britain.



Swedish antiques are in high demand. 117

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It’s not a country people think of going antiquing in but the Dutch have fabulous industrial antiques warehouses in the countryside. There’s a wealth of treasures as they were a seafaring nation so brought back things from around the world. The Dutch don’t really like over the top pieces, it’s not their aesthetic, so if you like rococo there are phenomenal prices as there’s no local demand. I once snapped up a gilt console in Holland for 400 Euro that would have cost 2000 in Paris. One of my favourite shops in Amsterdam is Anouk Beerents, which specialises in gorgeous gilt antique French mirrors.



The uk

In England my local Diva Agent is Gail McLeod, the editor of Antiques News & Fairs and cofounder of the Antiques Young Guns. She knows everyone in the trade. My favourite place in England for antiquing is the Cotswolds and my absolute love is Lorfords in Tetbury, where the best antique dealers in the UK sell from two former RAF air hangars. Spencer Swaffer Antiques in Arundel, West Sussex, (left and above), is another one of my favourite destinations. A beautiful shop.

! ! ! !


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‘I chose the name because the antiquing lifestyle, especially in paris, is very diva-ish. whenever I browsed antiques shops, a glass of champagne would magically appear.’

I’ll come up with an itinerary for them so they can book flights and hotels. Clients who work in the antiques and design trade come to me with budgets of $30,000 to $100,000 USD but at the same time we cater to tourists too and have clients with $200 in their pockets looking for bric-a-brac and bargains. Regardless of a client’s budget, we never forget the diva lifestyle – we want clients to experience European life. That means a lovely long lunch in Italy or France or a private dinner hosted in an antique dealer’s home in Belgium. My favourite item I’ve ever bought on a tour was the entire ceiling from a neo-Gothic cathedral in Maastricht that cost 16,000 Euros. My client was a woman from America and when she told me what she was after, well, I was dubious. ‘We probably won’t find a whole cathedral ceiling,’ I told her because it’s important to manage people’s expectations. So when we did we both nearly expired with the excitement of it. On the same trip the client bought a wooden panelled Louis 15th period room to move wholesale to Ohio. In the States and Australia, where the majority of homes are new build, there are no pre-existing original features to work around so people can, quite literally, transplant rooms from Europe to make their new houses feel old!


Even though we have so many local guides now, most of them antiques dealers themselves or people in the trade, I still love leading tours. I tend to go out two weeks of every month, often with VIP clients, but also if someone’s looking for something unusual as that’s a learning experience for me too. My favourite clients are new antique dealers learning their trade. Our next goal is expanding into South America, so we are lining up tours for Argentina and Uruguay. Argentina is fabulous for antiques and Montevideo in Uruguay is a gorgeous city and has a lot of good pieces. Many people immigrated to South America in the 30s and 40s, bringing their furniture with them, so there are European pieces along with the indigenous stuff. It makes for an interesting mix. In my job the science is in knowing not only where to go but there’s a bit of psychology too in understanding the client and working out what’s going to fit for them. The great thing is that I hardly ever shop for myself any more, with seven containers at sea at any one time, I’m shopping vicariously through my clients. But when asked what I personally collect, my answer is simple. People! I know interesting people all around the world and my job is connecting them so they can form mutually beneficial relationships.



Paris is a treasure chest for antiques.

Toma’s Antiquing Advice l Figure out what the locals don’t want. There’ll be great prices on it. l Always ask for a discount. Simply say: ‘Is that your best price?’ l If it’s easily packable, so a tourist can buy it and take it home in their suitcase, the price will be higher. The bigger the item, like that cathedral ceiling, the better the price as the market for it will be more limited. l When shopping abroad ask the vendor to ship the item for you. l Antiquing is easier if you have a visual image in mind of what you’re after. I always ask clients to show me a Pinterest board of things they love or a page from a magazine perhaps. l Shop with a local to get the local price, then bargain hard and negotiate. That’s what Antiques Diva offers clients; they’re pre-qualified in a vendor’s eyes because they’re with us. Sellers don’t jack us around and offer tourist prices as they know we, and our clients, mean business.

The Antiques Diva & Co offers private tours with prices ranging from 440E a day upwards to 700E. Email info@ or go to for more information or to book. 119

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Once in Patrick’s great grandfather’s tile factory in east London, the table was moved to his grandfather’s house after the factory was bombed in the war.


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hecking into Berdoulat and Breakfast in the centre of Bath you might have stepped into a period drama. Everything in this 18th century house is so perfect that you expect to see a demure young lady embroidering on the Hepplewhite sofa while a visiting Captain Poldark comes striding across the wooden boards. It’s not a chichi replica-of-the-period kind of place. Rather it is pared back luxury. Furniture has been either lightly restored, or not all. By letting the age and the history speak for itself, using a careful mix of salvaged pieces and sympathetic cabinetry, the result is somehow more authentic and stylish - an elegant old dame, rather than a botoxed imitation. It’s perhaps no surprise that the owner Patrick Williams has a bit of form when it comes to the 18th century. An architect, who specialises in period properties, 5 Pierrepont Place was right up his street. He and his wife Neri, a photographer, had been looking for their dream B&B for years - a ‘doer upper’ that he could refurbish using his expertise. The idea was to combine their talents. Neri, originally from Istanbul, is a born hostess and great with people and food. A house big enough for them to live in, with a small number of guest rooms, was the goal. Three years ago, they found the dream, on a quiet Bath cobbled street and more central than they could ever have hoped for. ‘M&S is so close, we call it the larder’ says Patrick, who is originally from Winchester. Extraordinarily it was the first time that the house had changed hands in over 200 years. It was built in 1748 by John Wood the Elder, the architect of Bath’s famous Royal Circus, Royal Crescent and Queen Square.

(above) No. 5 Pierrepont Place, Bath. 121

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In 1809 The Freemasons of Bath bought the house along with the next door Theatre Royal for £25. They turned the theatre into the Freemasons Hall (it remains so today) and 5 Pierrepont Place was rented out for the next two centuries. As a result there had been very little love – and minimal money spent – over the years. ‘It was in an appalling state when we bought it,’ Patrick says. The upper floors had been student digs and the ground and lower ground floor were the offices of Racial Equality in North East Somerset. Still, behind the photocopy machines and the ‘hideous 1980s kitchens’ Patrick could see the Wood’s house peeking through. ‘The kitchens were bolted on to the original panelled walls,’ he says. ‘We had bad days where we’d lift up a floor and find rotten beams, then good days when we’d come across a mint condition hob grate from the 1740s.’ The prognosis was that ‘the lot’ needing doing from a new roof to a new sewer – and all the rest in between. It had never had central heating and needed complete rewiring. There were asbestos partition walls and layer upon


layer of ‘sweaty lino’. ‘The whole place hadn’t breathed for years,’ says Patrick. The project took 18 months, with Patrick bravely living on site while Neri and their baby daughter stayed at his sister’s. ‘I lived here throughout a fierce winter, with glass missing from the windows and relying on candlelight at night,’ Patrick recounts, adding that he later discovered that he’d been dicing with death – the room he had been sleeping in was only being held up by the coving in the room below. Somehow he continued working for clients at the same time, but on his own project ran out of money seven times. ‘We didn’t want to cut any corners,’ he explains. ‘We wanted to present a B&B interior that was well done.’ The French connection When planning their new venture they wanted the opposite of the ‘typical nasty British B&B’ with plastic kettles and instant coffee sachets. Instead their inspiration was France where the chambres d’hôte are homely, yet stylish, giving you privacy although they are part of a home. Patrick’s parents were both French teachers who were ‘obsessed with France’. They bought a dilapidated 18th century farmhouse in south west France before Patrick was born and spent the long school holidays there, gradually restoring it, as a family, over the next 25 years. ‘I woke up to the sound of a cement mixer outside my bedroom window as a child. That was my alarm clock!’ Patrick laughs. ‘But it was where I got the bug for old buildings.’ The farmhouse – which the family sold six years ago – was called Berdoulat, and holds such affection that Patrick used


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(left) The circular bath came from UK AA in Cannock Wood, Staffs.

the name for his architectural practice and for the B&B. Bath’s Berdoulat is dotted with memories of France. The large dining table, which started life in the boardroom of his great grandfather’s tile factory in east London, moved to his grandfather’s house after the factory was bombed in the war and subsequently became the family dining table in France. The grandfather clock in the dining room came from his friend’s brocante, Un Coin Du Passé in Castéra-Verduzan, near to the farmhouse. It has a 1680 mechanism with a later case, and the face is inscribed with its place of origin, Condom - the French town that always raises a smile. Also from the shop are the monte-et-baisse (adjustable height) lights above the dining room table. The Common Parts The house is arranged so that the family have their private rooms on the top three floors, with a communal kitchen and dining area on the ground floor, the library on the first floor, and the two guest rooms, the Linley and Elder Suites, in the basement.

Kitchen In the kitchen, a local cabinet maker made the units, in keeping with the Georgian panelling. The vast kitchen island which has an elm wood top was by a cabinet maker in York, Marcus Jacka. Patrick aged the elm himself, treating it with Van Dyck crystals – ground-up walnut husks. ‘It makes it look 300 years old!’ he says. With such ancient looking wood, the sink could hardly be shiny and new, so an old Belfast sink was bought from English Salvage in Leominster. It’s on this island that Neri creates her full English – and full Turkish – breakfasts for guests. Cutlery and crockery are cleverly organised, with French wooden wine boxes used to store mugs and cooking utensils. The vast kitchen dresser came from eBay – a favourite hunting ground – and was bought to put aside before they even purchased the house. ‘I knew that the kitchen would be large, so we would need a big piece,’ says Patrick. ‘And I’ve always had a dream of a cupboard full of goody jars!’ It wasn’t the only prescient purchase. Before work started 123

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‘I LIVED HERE THROUGHOUT A FIERCE WINTER, WITH GLASS MISSING FROM THE WINDOWS AND RELYING ON CANDLELIGHT.’ (above left) The elegant Hepplewhite sofa in the library was bought online and left as it was. (above right) The wax seal.

Patrick asked reclaim dealers to put aside architrave and pilasters of the period knowing he would put them to good use. Library The elegant Hepplewhite sofa in the library was bought online and left as was, rather than being reupholstered. Behind, the bookcases are a combination of salvaged architrave and the rest made to match. The bust of Wellington came from grateful clients in Wellington Row in London. It sits on an old hat stand, found on the street outside a shop in Peckham, south London. As for the piano? ‘It’s beyond an instrument!’ says Patrick. ‘We bought it online as a piece of furniture.’ The rush chairs are another eBay find. ‘I bought one thing and when I went to collect, the lady happened to have umpteen chairs. I find it hard to resist chairs!’ Guest rooms The impressive circular bath in the Linley Suite came from UK AA, an architectural antiques supplier based in Cannock Wood, Staffs and cost £1,600. But it needed some ingenuity to get the plumbing right – eventually sorted with parts from a classic car. Patrick explains: ‘I was having trouble hooking up the overflow, so I went to my garage with two bits of pipe and asked their advice. They said they had a radiator hose from a Triumph Spitfire out back. That did the trick!’ The pan and cistern of the loo came from different eBay sellers. ‘A lot of the sanitaryware I bought for next to nothing on eBay,’ Patrick says. ‘I quite like driving round the country to pick up a random loo panel, visiting new places and chatting

to people. It’s very sociable.’ The four poster bed is another such purchase. Someone had commissioned it in 1991, at a cost of £10,000, for a flat in a former royal hunting lodge. Patrick paid £350 for it, then stripped it down and painted it. The Virgin Mary in the bathroom came from Church Antiques in Walton on Thames. Patrick came across the bookbinding press in the garden of a house in London. The house was for sale, but he came away with the press instead. Restored and polished it, it’s used as a table in the Elder Suite. The velum trail One of the benefits of the Freemasons owning the house for so long was the fascinating paper trail, or rather ‘velum trail.’ One document detailing the spec and location of the house, now hanging framed in the entrance hall, even has the architect John Wood the Elder’s wax seal. It states that the windows were to be painted white and the front door in brown. Patrick and Neri sought to find something as sympathetic as possible, opting for Farrow and Ball’s Charleston Gray for the door which opens onto the moody hall in Fired Earth’s Tempest. After a 200 year hiatus, the house is finally somewhere John Wood the Elder might feel at home. Although he might be surprised by the full Turkish breakfast.

» Book at, Tel: 01225 334798. Prices from £165 a night. » Berdoulat Interior Design is at


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Spectacular sheds Turf out those spidery flowerpots and half-empty tins of creosote and create a beautiful living space in your own back garden, with a little inspiration from these books BY ANDREINA CORDANI

STAr CHOICE Microshelters is a comprehensive look at the art of the shed, shack and van from American superfan Derek ‘Deek’ Diedricksen and his passion and good humour comes through in every line. The first part of the book is dedicated to inspiration – amazing TARDIS style hideaways, including one where the front opens up like a bread bin, and tree houses for kids and grown-ups. In the second part, Diedricksen talks tools and materials, including how to build your dream hut on a tiny budget, and in part three he offers actual, tangible plans and designs from the shed building community. This is a fun, entertaining and practical book for dreamers who want to make things happen. l (£12.99, Storey)

For a practical guide to outdoor makeovers you can’t beat Shed Decor by Sally Coulthard. The first part is divided into different styles from ‘The Recycled Shed’ to ‘The Plain and Simple Shed’ and each chapter has different case studies covering architectural tips as well as interiors ideas. The focus is very much on salvage and the use of traditional materials. The second part is more practical covering different options for walls, flooring, heating and power. If you have a sad little shack in your garden just waiting for a new look, this is your best jump-off point. l (£20, Jacqui Small)

Sheds are often seen as a bit of a male bolthole but in A Woman’s Huts And Hideaways, author Gill Heriz focuses on 40 outdoor buildings designed and often restored or hand built by some very creative women. There’s bound to be something in here you haven’t seen before, including a lean-to covered in American licence plates and a wooden hut on stilts tiled with old LPs which buckle in the heat but keep everything underneath it dry. But it’s also not idealised or over-styled. The huts made from recycled materials are rustic, and there’s even a few of those umbrella-style folding chairs in evidence. A refreshing and realistic take on outdoor spaces. l (£19.99, CICO)


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In My Cool Shed author Jane Field-Lewis takes you on a tour of inspiring small buildings from around the world, from cool 21st century architects’ boltholes to the historic huts where writers such as Virginia Woolf and George Bernard Shaw completed their masterpieces. It examines the myriad uses we find for our small spaces, shares the fascinating story behind each one and adds some style notes to crib from too. Highlights include a log cabin with a modern twist (the logs are arranged sideways on, so you can see the rings) and what’s possibly the world’s smallest music venue. l (£14.99, Pavilion)

If you’re looking for shed porn, Homes from Home by Vinny Lee is packed with pictures to drool over, and ideas to inspire. From crazy sci-fi woodland pods to caves, thatched African style huts and Hobbit holes, every chapter is an adventure. There’s a section on huts and hideaways, focusing on low impact buildings tucked away in gardens, fields and woodlands made from a variety of materials. Then there’s a section on homes to go, which covers rolling structures like caravans and shepherd huts plus yurts, housboats and even a psychedelic barge. There are flashes of inspiration throughout and plenty of insight into construction. l (£30, Jacqui Small) 129

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Places to buy

Your guide to every stockist and retailer featured...

A Alijoedesigns Annie Sloan Anouk Beerents Antiques Antiques Diva Arc Reclamation Ayre & Co B Bad Dog Designs Bath Decorative Antiques Fair Berdoulat B&B 01225 334798 C Campaign Furniture 01451 830476  Carters Steam Fair Chippenham Auctions 01249 447478 Church Antiques 01932 252736 CICO Books 020 7025 2200 Conran Shop

D Daniel Larsson Antiques Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair E English Salvage

L LASSCO Brunswick House, 202 7394 2100 Ropewalk, 020 7394 8061 Three Pigeons, 01844 277188 Lorfords M

F Flos French Country Living Antiques G Gabrielle de Giles Galapagos Designs Garden Artefacts H Hand Of Glory Antiques Heart Vintage House-Box I Iconic Lights Improved! J Jill Palmer Antiques John Bird Antiques

Martin D Johnson Antiques Melody Rose Mercanteinfiera Modish Living N Nice Anubis Nicholas Gifford-Mead Nikki Page Antiques O On The Square Emporium Original House

S Scott Howard Serendipity Antiques Shed Boutique 07517 831 477 Skin Flint Design Spencer Swaffer T Toast The Mint List The Old Cinema The Purple Finch The Rag and Bone Man 07733 365 774 U UK Architectural Antiques Ltd Unique Home Stays

P Peter Sohier R Retrouvius Rust Bucket Workshop



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