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Architectural Reclamation, Swansea Established 1970
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Articles of interest

From time to time we are asked to submit articles to our local news paper, here are a few examples from our archives.

Out with the new and in with the old.
There’s no doubt about it, with the influence of T.V. programmes, such as Changing rooms or the Reclaimers, the use or re-use of salvaged building materials and period home fittings and fixtures is on the increase.

More and more people these days are opting for the more traditional look, perhaps sometimes even combined with modern surroundings.
Many people who have bought an older house, that has since been modernised, will want to re-fit older fittings and features to take it back to it’s original look. Having said this, sometimes people are also surprised to find hidden secrets within the house that has been waiting to be discovered. These could be old floorboards or maybe even parquet block flooring underneath carpet; Victorian cast iron fireplaces buried under modern plasterboard walls or sometimes ornate pine panel doors that have been hidden under hardboard panels. The clues are there if you know where to look.
However do not despair if these types of features are missing from your home many original fittings are still available from reclamation and salvage yards, or if not they can normally find them for you.

If the traditional look is not for you, you might still consider using reclaimed materials. It must be said that as many architectural salvaged items are used in modern designs as are in more traditional designs with many people now opting for the bespoke look, combining traditional materials with newer minimalist clean cut designs. There doesn’t seem to be any rules either, who says antique wood looks out of place besides highly polished Stainless Steel? What about a decorative cast iron radiator to heat your conservatory? a traditional roll top bath surrounded by modern tiles in your bathroom or even an old ship's beam placed proudly above your gas fire? the possibilities are as many as your imagination!

Maybe the DIY option is not for you but you would still like to use reclaimed materials. You will discover that many trades and building companies are used to working with salvaged items on a daily basis. Indeed, many craftsmen and businesses alike are still surviving or even thriving today, due to the popularity of reclamation. Everything from specialist carpenters, to re-lay block flooring, to stained glass restorers, which Swansea is renowned for, can be found in your local Yellow pages.
Be sure to get a few quotes for any work to be carried out.

Finally, don’t forget the fact that every reclaimed item has a story to tell, always a good talking point at dinner parties. Doors from ships; Granite kitchen work surfaces from long gone gent’s outfitters and perhaps a lectern more used to holding bibles now supports your recipe book. Who knows? – The possibilities are endless!
- Good hunting.

Les Hopkins (Architectural Reclamation)

From Bank to Bottle.

I was talking to a friend some time ago and he was telling me, having not been to Swansea for some time, his dismay having walked down Wind street in the rain to go to his bank only to discover the cashiers had been replaced by barmaids and the only way of putting money over the counter is to buy a drink!

Some of the biggest customers for reclamation and architectural salvage companies these days are from the licensing trade. With more and more new pubs, hotels and café bars opening everywhere and older pubs being refurbished all makes for a busy time.

But gone are the days of just buying a couple of old pews and re-polishing the brassware behind the bar, as more designers and architects are opting for the bespoke look and combining traditional materials with newer minimalist clean cut design..
There doesn’t seem to be any rules either. Who says antique wood looks out of place beside highly polished stainless steel? Also changing the original use of some materials to fit in with new designs.

A good example of this is the Café Valance in the Mumbles which boasts a bar made from reclaimed church pew panelling with Victorian quarry tiles as the counter top – from Victorian footsteps to coffee cups! But we must not forget the more traditional bar designs as well, a lot of pubs and clubs were modernised in the 70’s and 80’s with fitted seating, padded bar fronts and plastic coated table tops abound. These are now being refurbished and taken back to their former ‘country pub’ appearance.
Again to mention one such pub is the Globe Inn in Loughour. There they have exposed walls to reveal hidden fireplaces removed carpets to find pine floorboards, which then have been waxed. Again the use of pews and chapel chairs stand along side various old tables to give a very traditional look.

Of course lets not forget the fact that every reclaimed item has a story to tell , always a good talking point anywhere. Doors from ships, granite counters from long-gone gents outfitters and perhaps a Lectern more used to holding a bible now supports the booking diary in some restaurant the possibilities are endless.

We supply many new projects in the Swansea area and indeed from London to the USA and I am constantly suprised by some of the uses found by some younger, perhaps more controversial architects and designers. But as I say there are no rules with the re-use of reclaimed items.

So next time you go into a pub or other drinking establishment give a little glance around and see if you can identify a little piece of the past hidden amongst today’s décor.

Les Hopkins (Architectural Reclamation)

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