Salvage Store

Does anyone have one of those little folding metal latches which holds your mailbox door shut and? If so, please let me know. Not being able to shut a cupboard door is like having a hangnail – a small thing but very irksome. The Barbican Estate Office just doesn’t have any spares. You may have your own particular problem.

Fortunately, help is at hand. Some conservation-minded residents have had the excellent idea of setting up the Barbican Salvage Group. The idea is to save original fixtures and fittings, so when residents want to restore or replace features in their flats, they will be able to do so. The problem for residents is that many of the features of their flats are absolutely unique to the Barbican – just like my latch – and they aren’t manufactured any longer, so the only way of getting one is if someone else does up their flat and chucks it out.

It’s a shame no one had this idea a few years ago, when we were all gaily ripping out old Barbican kitchens and bathrooms, and simply throwing everything out as rubbish. That was before English Heritage told us that the rubbish was what we were putting in, and that what we were throwing out was pure gold.

I love the Barbican and its architecture and design, as you can probably tell from this site, but I couldn’t wait to see the back of those horrible white bathroom tiles, which made having a shower feel like sluicing down an abattoir, even if you could get that absurd shower cable to unravel.

And as for the kitchen, the sliding glass doors seemed specifically designed for trapping large quantities of breadcrumbs, and no one will ever convince me that those nasty ill-fitting bits of melamine, with little white plastic sprockets, have any place outside some temporary housing project in a Third World disaster zone.

Compare the appallingly low quality of material and workmanship of the kitchens, with the lovely wood and beautifully engineered quality of the external sliding doors and windows.

Anyway, for those purists looking to restore flats to their original condition, or to replace worn out fixtures and fittings, the Barbican Salvage Group is a useful resource. I expect it is luck of the draw what is available at any time, but they store anything from individual light switches and taps through to wardrobe doors and complete kitchen units.

Another thing I believe the Barbican Salvage group was doing at one point – and this is a really good idea – was to put together a list of items which people clearly need but which they can’t find, and then see if there is enough interest arrange to have them manufactured. This could be anything from the infamous bathroom tiles to door handles.

If you are thinking of renovating your flat, please get in touch with the group so they can collect the stuff you are going to be throwing out.