Curious Trends


LASSCO's architectural salvage emporium at Brunswick House

In the 18th century, London’s Brunswick House was set in five and a half acres of parkland with its own jetty. Now it overlooks five lanes of traffic and is overshadowed by the ever-expanding St George’s Wharf development. The building is home to LASSCO (London Architectural Salvage and Supplies Ltd) and houses its salvage yard/shop, as well as the Brunswick Café -a bar and restaurant that has recently opened for lunch and dinner, to rave reviews

Brunwick House was built in 1758 and was originally called Belmont House. It was renamed after the Duke of Brunswick in 1811. He later died in battle. In 1863, the London and South Western railway opened a railway men’s club on the premises, installing a bar in the ‘concert room.’ At one stage the building became a lending library. During the Second World War, an army unit was stationed at Brunswick House to protect the railway and goods yards. In the 1970s, there redevelopment of the area became a tussle between British Rail and the GLC, who wanted to demolish Brunswick House and relocate its tenants to Camberwell Grove. British Railways Board eventually sold the property to developers in 2002, whereupon it was taken over by squatters. It was later purchased by LASSCO in an unrestored state and, though sympathetically refurbished in parts, the bare bones of the original building are untouched.

LASSCO was set up by Adrian Amos, who originally used a horse and cart to collect and reclaim architectural fittings. Formerly run from St Michael’s Church in Shoreditch, LASSCO also has branches just outside Oxford and at Ropewalk near Tower Bridge. The firm employs what are known as ‘runners’ with inside knowledge and the skills to remove items from building sites – who are “the heart and soul of the business”. They include the characterfully named Jimmy Fingers, who has lost numerous digits in the course of his work – and Frank the Plank. The company is a member of SALVO, which has a voluntary code of conduct, ensuring that nothing is taken without permission.

Items have been salvaged from prestigious institutions such as the Royal Academy of Arts, the Royal College of Art, and the Victoria and Albert Museum – even Kensington Palace. There are old lamps from Smithfield, accessories from secretive Masonic clubs in St James’s, medical curiosities from Harley Street and unique specimens of natural history.

A living and working curiosity shop, the building also has its own restoration workshop, where everything from chandeliers and fireplaces to stained glass windows and road signs are refurbished for recycling.

The shop is ideal for anyone renovating a period home, offering as it does a wide selection of door furniture, antique bathroom fittings, vintage radiators, tiles, floorboards and signage.

For those who like to shop curiously, it’s also full of retro memorabilia, posters and quirky curiosties.

And the building is also home to a very curious cat.


By Toby Ash on 20/11/2011 10:12:00

I love Lassco too! The building is so atmospheric and there are always lots of incredible things there. Just wish I had a big enough house to put them all in!

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