Inside the home of Salvage Hunter Drew Pritchard

We step inside the former Conwy home of star of Salvage Hunters, Drew Pritchard

The car on the wall is from an old fairground dodgem ride. The boxes with long handles are chapel collection boxes. Image: Grant Scott.
The personal collection of antiques in the former home of Drew Pritchard, the star of the TV show Salvage Hunters, is as intriguing and varied as you’d expect, ranging from reclaimed ecclesiastical items to Mick Jagger’s lavatory…
Take a look inside Salvage Hunters Drew Pritchard's home
Image: Grant Scott

On 23rd June 1995, Drew Pritchard, the star of the Discovery and Quest’s Salvage Hunters, moved into a Methodist chapel in the Conwy countryside in north Wales. He was then just 25 years old and it was the first property he’d ever owned. ‘Oh, it was a total mess,’ he says. ‘Completely derelict. There was no water, no drains, no planning permission. A friend told me I’d be better off pulling it down and starting all over again.’

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But he wasn’t to be put off. ‘It’s the highest church in the valley and was built in 1812. I was determined to turn it into a home even though I had no money at all. My bath, for instance (a Victorian claw-footed affair) came from a friend who was using it as a planter in his garden. I bought it for 80 quid.’

The car on the wall is from an old fairground dodgem ride. The boxes with long handles are chapel collection boxes. Image: Grant Scott.
The car on the wall is from an old fairground dodgem ride. The boxes with long handles are chapel collection boxes. Image: Grant Scott
A limited-edition Elvis poster by the British artist JJ Adams is contrasted with an 18th-century wrought-iron neo-Gothic fireguard in the home of Drew Pritchard. Image: Grant Scott.
A limited-edition Elvis poster by the British artist JJ Adams is contrasted with an 18th-century wrought-iron neo-Gothic fireguard. Image: Grant Scott
Drew Pritchard Exclusively for Barker and Stonehouse - Foxley in Chamonix Highland Green, £1,550 (1)

Over twenty years later – with the chapel now completely renovated and every corner crammed with lovely things – and the man the press calls the ‘junkyard genius’ has now sold this property and moved elsewhere. ‘I’m not sentimental,’ he explains. ‘It’s a mistake to be sentimental in my business. You end up hanging on to things you should be selling, with the result that you make no money at all.’

Pritchard’s Conwy chapel was filled with all manner of extraordinary antiques, including a lavatory that once belonged to Mick Jagger (Pritchard bought it from his plumber). A beautiful late-Victorian painted screen with a large flamingo on it (discovered in the kitchen of a house he was clearing, where it was stuck between cooker and fridge to protect the latter from spitting fat). But above all, a vast amount of reclaimed ecclesiastical pieces: crosses, statues, pews, kneelers, even an altar. ‘In the last 20 years, I’ve cleared more than 500 religious buildings. I own so many kneelers, I hardly know what to do with them. When my kids were small, they would use them to climb up to the dining table,’ he laughs.

The cistern of this lavatory is Edwardian and the seat is Georgian. It once belonged to Mick Jagger. Image: Grant Scott
The cistern of this lavatory is Edwardian and the seat is Georgian. It once belonged to Mick Jagger. Image: Grant Scott
Pritchard's dining room features reclaimed church pews. The red cubes are embroidered kneelers, also from St George’s Llandudno. Image: Grant Scott
Pritchard’s dining room features reclaimed church pews. The red cubes are embroidered kneelers from St George’s Llandudno. Image: Grant Scott
The picture on the wall is a new copy of an old poster advertising the Blue Train, which runs between Pretoria and Cape Town in South Africa. Below it sits an English Regency painted sidechair while Matchbox and Dinky cars are displayed on shelves, along with a Fisher Price pull-along child’s beagle. Image: Grant Scott
The picture on the wall is a new copy of an old poster advertising the Blue Train, which runs between Pretoria and Cape Town in South Africa. Below it sits an English Regency painted sidechair while Matchbox and Dinky cars are displayed on shelves, along with a Fisher Price pull-along child’s beagle. Image: Grant Scott

Pritchard grew up in Glan Conwy. His father was a sign writer. ‘The family would go away in our VW camper van and, from the age of eight, my parents would take us around museums. It was my father who taught me how to look at things. Even as a young child I couldn’t understand why people would buy new things. I used to think, “Are you mad? Why not buy something old?”’

He left school as soon as possible and was apprenticed as a stained-glass restorer. It was this trade that led him, eventually, to the antiques business. He began working for himself at 23. His clients now include Ralph Lauren and the chef Marco Pierre White. He also sells via his website and North Wales antiques showroom. Among the recent arrivals are a 19th-century pawn brokers sign, exquisite antique plaster masks and a magnificent mahogany breakfront bookcase, plus his recent collection of heritage-inspired sofas and armchairs designed in collaboration with Barker and Stonehouse.

Either side of the window are copies of terracotta masks of Greek figures. Below the window sits an 18th-century oak church pew. Image: Grant Scott
Either side of the window are copies of terracotta masks of Greek figures. Below the window sits an 18th-century oak church pew. Image: Grant Scott
A collection of 19th-century church candlesticks and an 18th-century cork architectural model are displayed on top of an alter in Drew’s living room. Image: Grant Scott
A collection of 19th-century church candlesticks and an 18th-century cork architectural model are displayed on top of an alter in Drew’s living room. Image: Grant Scott
The board by the window details the good deeds performed by the rich of the parish. it comes from The Lizard, Cornwall and dates to the 18th century. Image: Grant Scott
The board by the window details the good deeds performed by the rich of the parish. it comes from The Lizard, Cornwall and dates to the 18th century. Image: Grant Scott
A portrait of antiques dealer and Salvage Hunters host, Drew Pritchard

How does he know what he likes? It’s a gut thing. ‘It’s hard to explain. I just have to have something. It’s a Christmas-morning feeling. I have an imaginary house in my head and when I see things, I put them in it. I’m not an antiques dealer so I’m not interested in an object’s age; it could be 16th century or 21st century. I’m not interested in its value either; it could be worth £50 or £50,000. All I care about is how it looks. The patina of something or how tatty it is, that’s all part of what I’m looking for. When it’s right, it’s right and you do get better at knowing that over the years.’

He gets what he calls an ‘artistic kick’ out of odd juxtapositions, the placing of unlikely objects next to one another. So what would he most like to own in all the world? ‘I collect old cars, so it has to be a type 35 Bugatti.’ For a practical man, he sounds almost dreamy at the thought…

The copy of a late-1950s Vespa was bought at Newark International Antiques & Collectors Fair 16 years ago. Next to it is a stained-glass church window, c1850–60. Image: Grant Scott
The copy of a late-1950s Vespa was bought at Newark International Antiques & Collectors Fair 16 years ago. Next to it is a stained-glass church window, c1850–60. Image: Grant Scott
The tub was rescued from a friend’s garden. The mirror came from Drew’s parents’ garage, where it was used to help reverse their car accurately. Image: Grant Scott
The tub was rescued from a friend’s garden. The mirror came from Drew’s parents’ garage, where it was used to help reverse their car accurately. Image: Grant Scott
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Words: Rachel Cooke