Reclaiming the past
A passion for history, a keen eye for quality and a desire to help others salvage and repurpose building materials has proved to be the winning formula for one Louth family, writes Kate Chapman.
The Brocklebank Reclaims story began 50 years ago with Dennis Brocklebank, who launched his own demolition business, taking down old farmhouses, farm buildings and other derelict properties.
His son Lee has followed in his footsteps, taking over the family business at the turn of the millennium, and he has stayed true to the old ways of working, by continuing to demolish the buildings by hand.
The family’s motto is ‘Reclaiming our past for your future’ and Lee has expanded on this further by opening a new, separate business, selling antiques and curios – Brocklebank Antiques – which is filled with unique, good quality furniture and artefacts.
Lee is extremely keen on salvaging whatever he can from the old buildings that he takes down – including the chimney pots, roof tiles, bricks, floorboards, windows and even the smaller ironmongery found in the properties such as door handles and hooks.
“We’re finding more and more old barns are now being converted into homes, which is good as they are being preserved and many are being restored using our reclaimed salvage items,” he says.
As churches and chapels are closing, Lee is able to sympathetically remove artefacts from these buildings such as old stone signs, old leaded stained glass windows as well as church pews.
It was while taking down these old buildings that Lee was also being asked to look at antiques from country homes around Lincolnshire. This sparked his idea to open a new venture selling antiques and curiosities, which he opened around seven years ago.
“I wanted to bring something different to Louth. The shop is filled with unique good quality furniture and artefacts,” he explains.
“And by opening the shop, I’ve not only been able to fill it with antiques to sell, but I’ve also added old signs to display from my personal collection, which has all helped to give it a much more authentic look and feel.
“We have been incredibly lucky to have such a beautiful building to work in; it is very complementary to the antiques.
And to ensure it has a warm and welcoming atmosphere, it has fresh flowers and plants from Louth Market to help support local businesses.”
The entrance to the shop features salvage items and a display of Lee’s personal signs. Alongside these, to add to the authentic environment, Lee also has a collection of special items including a Lancaster tyre and Spitfire wheels.
“As you walk through to shop’s first room, there’s a variety of curiosities and ironmongery,” he says. “Our pieces range from drawers full of old handles to door locks. With these being sourced from old buildings, they often do not come as sets, so we also offer a large selection of reproduction ironmongery, which is made in England.
“This means that our customers have a choice and are able to purchase complete sets if they wish to do so.
“The second room in our shop is filled with a variety of furniture and items that date from the 19th century to the mid-century. Within this room, the Victorian furniture is surrounded by paintings and authentic Victorian clothing.
“While upstairs the space is filled with a selection of period items that date back to the 18th century up until the early 20th century.
“These pieces include a rather spectacular Flemish linen cupboard, which is not only graceful but also practical with its ample storage. There’s also a rather unique Oyster veneered set of drawers, from the late 18th century.”
Whilst most items are for sale, Lee does have a selection of artefacts that are displayed as part of a collection of small museum items too – the most striking piece being a wax anatomical sculpture of a lady, laid out in a provocative manner.
“This piece was used as an educational tool, in the 19th century, by the Catholic Church,” Lee explains. “The church would visit schools with the wax sculpture, which is showing a Caesarean section, to warn the children that if they were to get pregnant out of wedlock, then their baby would be taken away. Although this is a graphic piece, it is also a true depiction of historic events.”
Going forward, the family is in the process of expanding the shop area into an adjacent property to create a mini-salvage yard, which will provide a selection of reclamation items for the convenience of customers.
“We pride ourselves on personal customer care, which we are able to provide being a smaller family business,” says Lee. “Although our shop is based in Louth, we have regular customers from across Lincolnshire and Yorkshire.
“We get a wide variety of customers ranging from our elderly regulars, who love coming in to reminisce, to the younger generation who like to purchase older properties and are looking for particular items to restore them back to their original way.
“We’re very excited about our new adventure and expansion and would like to take the opportunity to thank all of our customers, old and new, for regularly supporting small businesses like ours and also supporting local businesses in Louth.”
Brocklebank Reclaims is open Fridays and Saturdays, from 10am to 5pm, and is always looking for old farm buildings and houses to salvage.
To find out more about the Brocklebank Reclaims shop follow its social media pages: instagram.com/brocklebankreclaimslouth facebook.com/brocktheshop/
Photographs: Immy Lyon