Re-use -
A Solution
For Modern

Church Street
Lower Weedon


Issue 123 August 2000 Page 146
Surreal Salvage
Gone are the days of huge baths squashed into tiny rooms, says Neville Griffiths. Virtual viewing allows you to find exactly what you're looking for fast.
If you'd told me a few years ago that in the near future I would become computerised and that images of me would be seen dancing on screens across the world, I'd have called you mad. What is possible now is quite amazing - especially to people like me whose roots are strongly linked to the past. It seems as though the exciting technology of the future I imagined as a child watching the Thunderbirds has arrived.

I, like many others, am just opening up to the endless possibilities of surfing the net for salvage (yes, I'm even learning the trendy words) and I can see it is a way forward for many of you who are renovating or looking for a missing object. I realised the consultation potential of the Internet whilst being interviewed on a BBC radio programme. I was asked to 'visit' a DJ's home via his website and offer salvage advice on his tiled fireplace. I noticed it was missing its grate, firebars and its hood. So, by then asking for accurate measurements, I will be able to supply him with specific images of replacement parts.

A virtual viewing helps to determine the age, style and general feel of the property. And - as time management is not one of my best attributes - this fast, visual communication is definitely a bonus. It can also give you the visual proof that you're getting what you put a deposit on. I've seen reserved items later switched for poorer quality alternatives but, if you have e-mail images stored on your computer, there's no dispute.

It's also a useful tool for getting a picture of what it will look like in your home. The image can be superimposed onto a picture of your room so you can get a feel for proportion. I've often seen freestanding baths squashed into tiny bathrooms because the buyer just couldn't get to grips with what would look right in their bathroom. - People are sending images of items they have for sale, images of what they're missing and requesting items you haven't even heard of. I was talking to one smaller dealer called Sylvia who has a website and is being run ragged at the moment. She is surrounded by e-mails and wondering how she is going to deal with them all One request was for a seed fiddle for a museum in Florida, another from Japan for ironwork, a theatre company in this country asked for a cuckoo clock without a spring but a hole in the back instead, so they could put the cuckoo on a stick and poke it out when they wanted to!

Already the Internet is an integral part of business for many in the salvage trade. For others it's a taster - a way of finding out about auctions, sourcing yards etc. Then if (like me) you are part of the 'touch it, taste it, feel it' brigade, you'll visit and enjoy as many salvage yards as possible.

One important area it has opened up is international trade. One dealer I know has just e-mailed an image of a huge terracotta lion's head from an old hotel to 30 salvage dealers in America. It is an object which may have been crushed by demolition but now has more chance of being saved. The technology of the present is helping to preserve the past for the future.

We had some fun trying to choose a domain name. I was going to call my site, but unbelievably someone's already registered it! So it's plain old

But if you do get fed up with the 'whizz whizz whizz' of modern technology and you want a material sedative to ease you into the future, then a nice piece of stone or slate or the smell of wood will bring you back to reality. Obviously, there is no substitute for the real thing - stumbling across something or buying an object you didn't know you were looking for can be a thrilling and satisfying way to spend the day.

A more imaginative approach for the purist and the romantic