Thursday, March 22, 2007

Homebuilding & Renovating Show NEC

NEC Birmingham UK 22-25 March 2007 - THIS year's Homebuilding & Renovation Show at the NEC in Birmingham, usually visited by 50,000 ardent DIY builders, reflects the move away from reclaimed, the hijacking of the word for marketing, and more imports of new materials from, especially from China and India.

Baggeridge Brick had a set of display panels of its new bricks, one of which was called 'Reclaimed Shire Sovereign Stock'. "Are these reclaimed bricks," I asked. "Oh no, they are lookalike reclaimed bricks," was the reply. "Then shouldn't they be called 'Reclaimed lookalike Shire Sovereign Stock'," I said. "Everyone knows they are not reclaimed," was the reply. Baggeridge, fourth largest UK brick company, and the largest still in UK ownership, had difficult trading in the past few years. Its brick stocks are up, profits from bricks are down, but profits from landfill are up. A German company now wants to buy it.

Penny Bricks, who still offer reclaimed bricks on their trade literature and business cards, now sell a range of new handmade lookalike bricks. "Do you still sell reclaimed bricks," I asked. "Not really. It's too difficult to get hold of them. These days if we are offered a batch of 2,000 to buy, we just turn them down." Penny Bricks started out as a salvage business but now sells mainly new oak beams, new wood flooring, new bricks, new doors and new 'railway sleepers'. They did at least have a few heavily smoothed and polished reclaimed beam pieces on show.

Midlands Slate & Tile is another formerly salvage company which has moved heavily into new materials, especially new clay tiles (from Turkey?) and at the NEC was showing a new range of natural limestone roof tiles. Rick Doody was in selling mode so I did not get a chance for a chat.

Indigenous is a new imported stone flooring and tile business in Oxfordshire. It had a panel of small stone tiles called 'Reclaimed Jerusalem flagstones'. "Are these tumbled new stone," I asked. "Oh no. These are antique stones dating back to biblical times . . . they could have been walked on by someone biblical," came the reply.

Machell is another ex-salvage business who were selling all new products at the show.

Period Living magazine had an enclave within the show, featuring period craftspeople and products, among which was Peter Weldon offering replica Vietnamese gates with his new built-in underground automatic electric gate closers. They also included a last minute stand by Antique Baths of Ivybridge, with Nick Cowen displaying old baths re-enamelled using their in-house epoxy process. Chris Baylis was there with Castrads, replica Chinese cast iron decorative and column radiators, valves and towel rails. Chris started the salvage business RBS in the early 1990's which he then sold and dabbled in Carribean real estate for a while gave that up and started Castrads last year. "Business has been going very well," he said. Emma Farrington of Period Living has arranged for the magazine to sponsor the talks at this year's Salvo Fair.

Oak frame stands included T J Crump Oakwrights and Border Oak both of whom had erected two storey frames made from French, German and Polish oak, and Carpenter Oak with single storey stand.

Ben Latham of Red Rhino Crushers was showing a mini concrete, stone and brick crusher capable of crushing 2,000 bricks an hour.

Debbie Buggins of the new Self-Build and Renovation Centre in Swindon explained the virtues of having a £2,000 permanent display of reclaimed products at their new centre.

Homebuilding & Renovating Show