Sal­vage HE­ROES

Period Living - - Renovation - Words Karen Bray | Pho­to­graphs Christo­pher Drake

Hus­band and wife team Louise and Sam Coster from Mon­gers Ar­chi­tec­tural Sal­vage are ded­i­cated to restor­ing re­claimed items, with a par­tic­u­lar pas­sion for san­i­tary­ware, help­ing to pre­serve our past and en­vi­ro­ment

Hing­ham is a beau­ti­ful Ge­or­gian town, about 13 miles south of Nor­wich. In the 18th cen­tury, the town was known as ‘lit­tle Lon­don’ be­cause of the grand houses that were built around the mar­ket­place by the up­per classes. Many of them re­main, but on the south side of the square, the houses are much older and date back to me­dieval times. In one of these tim­ber-frame build­ings you will find Mon­gers Ar­chi­tec­tural Sal­vage.

Es­tab­lished in 1997 by Sam Coster and his late wife Trudie, Mon­gers is now run by Sam and wife Louise. The com­pany name is based on their sur­name, which de­rives from Coster­mon­gers, who were mar­ket traders in Vic­to­rian Lon­don – ‘coster’ is a mod­i­fi­ca­tion of a type of ap­ple and the term ‘monger’ means a trader or seller.

Over the past 21 years the busi­ness has ex­panded to in­clude a yard, a gar­den and over 2,000 square feet of show­room space, but as with most busi­ness ven­tures the own­ers started out do­ing some­thing en­tirely dif­fer­ent. ‘Sam was orig­i­nally a the­atre de­signer,’ ex­plains Louise.

‘He then went on to run an ar­chi­tec­tural sal­vage yard in west Lon­don. We met when we were neigh­bours in Cam­den 25 years ago, so I’ve known the busi­ness from the be­gin­ning. I worked as a fash­ion buyer and al­ways loved ren­o­vat­ing old prop­er­ties. I moved to Hing­ham about four years ago when we got mar­ried.’

Louise and Sam be­lieve that recla­ma­tion, re­use and up­cyling are im­por­tant el­e­ments in the fight ➤

to pre­serve our en­vi­ron­ment, and source a range of re­claimed items that can be ren­o­vated in or­der to give them a fu­ture pur­pose. ‘We are com­mit­ted to pro­mot­ing proper restora­tion so that pieces are suitable for modern liv­ing,’ says Louise. ‘Old ra­di­a­tors, bath­rooms and brass­ware can be great as­sets to houses to­day. By reusing these items we are not only keep­ing them from land­fill but also sav­ing the re­sources re­quired to make and trans­port new repli­cas. So many re­claimed goods were made to last and with a lit­tle restora­tion can be reused for gen­er­a­tions to come. We owe it to our an­ces­tors who in­vested their skills, pas­sion and, in some cases, their lives to pro­duc­ing these at­trac­tive, in­ter­est­ing and func­tional pieces.’

The yard stocks a wide va­ri­ety of re­claimed and sal­vaged items as well as an­tique and re­claimed bath­rooms. ‘We’ve got baths of all sizes, a few hun­dred basins from the 1860s up to the 1950s, as well as ra­di­a­tors that we re­store to or­der, many fire­places, doors and a good se­lec­tion of door fur­ni­ture, both an­tique and re­pro­duc­tion. Out­side we have a gar­den full of gar­den an­tiques and a yard with large and in­ter­est­ing ar­chi­tec­tural fea­tures, as well as floor tiles in­clud­ing Nor­folk pam­ments. We also have a barn full of floor­boards, of which sam­ples are dis­played in the shop.’

Although still a con­ven­tional ar­chi­tec­tural sal­vage yard at heart, Mon­gers, like many yards, has found an ex­per­tise and pas­sion for one par­tic­u­lar as­pect of the busi­ness. ‘We have been lucky over the years to have a found some good re­stor­ers for our baths and san­i­tary­ware and, where a lot of yards have found the restora­tion of san­i­tary­ware chal­leng­ing, we now have the ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise to take on most projects from canopy baths to hum­ble basin taps, and the re­sults can be spec­tac­u­lar,’ ex­plains Louise. ‘We travel the length and breadth of the coun­try to source the very best stock. It could be a pair of baths from a cas­tle in Scot­land to a set of uri­nals from a Vic­to­rian cricket pavil­ion in Lit­tle­hamp­ton. We also find ex­cit­ing things on the con­ti­nent, as well as lo­cally – dou­ble-ended French baths and dou­ble basins are par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar.’

Over the years Mon­gers has built up a great deal of ex­pe­ri­ence and the nec­es­sary parts to en­able the team to ren­o­vate most items; how­ever, the restora­tion process can be painstak­ing, as Louise ex­plains: ‘First, we care­fully re­move all brass­ware, taps, waste fit­tings, etc. These are then stripped down and sent for re-plat­ing or pol­ish­ing, the chi­naware is cleaned in a mild acid and any chips are re­paired. Our baths are re­fin­ished in an epoxy high-build coat­ing af­ter be­ing thor­oughly cleaned, filled and etched. We have fa­cil­i­ties to re­make miss­ing and bro­ken parts, con­vert items to stan­dard modern plumb­ing sizes and re­pair cracks in basins. In fact, there are not many items we can­not find a way to make us­able again.’

‘It is im­por­tant when try­ing to re­store an­tique items that it is un­der­taken by a highly skilled per­son,’ adds Louise. ‘We have seen so many beau­ti­ful pieces ru­ined by heavy-handed work­men. There are, as with most things, times when items are not worth restor­ing, such as toi­let pans that are heav­ily crazed so that they will not stay wa­ter­tight, or cracked basins where the ➤

Above: The show­room and ad­join­ing yard are si­t­u­ated in a part of Hing­ham that dates back to me­dieval timesRight: Blue and white trans­fer printed Vitri­fyde wash­down closet, from £1,250

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.