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been replaced by barmaids and the only way of putting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
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
Les Hopkins (Architectural Reclamation)