Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Moreton In Marsh, Gloucestershire, UK
Take a stroll around Cox's Yard and you will find a warehouse divided by huge pieces of timber room panelling and screen dividers. Through reclaimed doorways you will see racks of reclaimed doors, antique bathroom gear, grand fireplaces, old butchers blocks, fireplace tiles, stoves, roll top baths, benches and radiators, all of which are the genuine article. As well as items left untouched and sold-as-seen, there are many examples, integral to the business, of items being recrafted into new products.
Peter Watson the boss of Cox's Yard has been part of recraft phenomenon for at least eight years, when they began making doors to order. The name 'Recraft' was suggested by Salvo to help define the growing number of new items being made from reclaimed materials. Peter explains, "It must be partly down to the trade adding value to a product and thus getting a better return. Beams are a classic. A dealer can get a much higher price for a finished beam than one straight off a job. It is also, especially in the case of doors, the inability to supply exactly what the customers wants. For example modern builders use door lining sizes standardised at 78ins by 30ins or 78ins by 33"ins and thus demand is highest for these sizes which in real life can't be met from our supplies of reclaimed doors." Reclamation yards have found a way to compete with new products from DIY stores but the recraft products have the same integrity as reclaimed items, being made of good quality slow-grown timber and with all the same green credentials.
Another reason for recraft is that people are used to buying off the shelf, and not having to play around with the item once they have it at home. Peter says "Our customers are short of time. This country is so consumer driven and over taxed that folks are working harder then ever just to stand still. They can also be badly advised by builders. And sometimes unable to see what the end result of a bit of sawing, sanding, filling and painting will be."
Although there are some things that do not get the recraft treatment, it seems everything gets a bit of tlc when it arrives at Cox's yard. "Reclaimed pine floorboards are best sold as is and represent the largest proportion of untouched timber sales", says Peter. "They are best laid as found and then sanded. Even then we tend to trim the ends of splits and of course they are denailed. Elm and oak, being so scarce, can be left untouched although we like to trim the wormier bits of elm. Clients buying Georgian six panel doors always get asked if they are repainting because if they are, it is better to supply doors in the paint rather than caustic dipped. We have dealt in modified beams, but joists tend to go out unadulterated."
At Salvo Fair this year Cox's Yard from Gloucestershire will be demonstrating one aspect of the recraft side of the business, turning old oak carriage boards from French freight trains into solid timber doors, built to size, and with all the craftsmanship, strength and character of a good old-fashioned reclaimed door.
Above: Peter Watson with a recrafted door and an old carriage board at Cox's Yard. The doors are made by Sooty, who will be demonstrating his traditional techniques at Salvo Fair on Cox's stand. The carriage boards are normally oak and from the south of France. The doors are made to any size. Frames can also be made to order. Peter Watson says, "We don't offer perfection. We offer splits, knots, and character." The timber is heavily sanded, filled, and oiled. Any style of hinges, locks and handles can be fitted.
Above: Sooty has also been recrafting some old oak tongue and groove, that has been hanging around the yard for seven years, into panelling. The six foot long sections will have a dado rail added to finish them.
Above: Old pew seats fashioned into benches.
Above: A reclaimed doorway to the racks of reclaimed doors.
Above: A warehouse divided by room panelling.
Above: A sneaky glimpse of the new tearoom, which should be open for the summer, made to show customers how to reuse windows and a spiral staircase.
Cox's Architectural Salvage Yard