Once only the domain of those in the trade, nowadays with the surge in popularity of restoration, property owners are using them as a source of materials when doing up their houses.
One of the best resources for a preliminary online rummage around architectural salvage yards in Britain is the SALVO site (www.salvoweb.com). It has a directory of both antique and reclamation yards around the countryside and is a good place to start. From that point on it depends on timing and distance to suit individual needs.
Guide to buying at salvage yards
Size does matter
‘Measure, measure, measure,’ should be the mantra. Oversized pieces can overwhelm rooms so look at the scale of what you are buy in relation to the room in which it is intended. If you are buying an original Victorian bath check that your floor can take the weight and that you have enough hot water to fill it.
When buying marble, avoid pieces that have been painted as marble is porous and the stains are hard to get out.
Watch out for stolen items
Find out where the piece came from. Sadly, there’s a lot of stolen property out there. Make sure the dealer has signed the Salvo code, which promises not to sell stolen items
If the house dates from the 18th century, it might not be very easy to find entirely authentic pieces so sometimes it will be necessary to turn to reproductions.
Be prepared to haggle. The weakness of the dollar against the pound means you face less competition from rich Americans. Do not be shy about making a much lower offer.
Some sites to look at:
Recommended is the Drummonds site on the A3 near Hindhead, Surrey (01428 609 444) which is a great spot to pick up a host of reclaimed articles from country houses.
London Architectural Salvage and Supply Company (Lassco: 020-7749 9944 or www.lassco.co.uk, whose main site is a converted Victorian church in East London.
Drew Pritchard Ltd in Wales who specialise in stained glass and architectural antiques. Tel 01492-874 004 or www.drewpritchard.co.uk
For salvaged Victorian roll top baths or water closets, try Mongers in Norfolk. Tel 01953 851868 or www.mongersofhingham.co.uk