Salvage fitted the bill, especially big – yes, the bigger the better, such as old cast-iron baths.
The swashbuckling derring-do of the architectural salvage trade resonated with Shaw, and in 1988, assisted by his wife Angela, Drummonds of Bramley Architectural Antiques was formed, and Birtley Farm near Guildford was acquired and turned into a reclamation yard. Tim Cooper, a former Walcot Reclamation manager, was persuaded to join up.
A few years later, the company’s annual sales were £1.5m, of which £500,000 was exported, and a 15,000 sq ft oak framed barn had been built to extend the showroom space.
Appreciation of aged sanitaryware resulted in Shaw buying and restoring old cast-iron baths, taps and brassware, which led to his quest to find the best way of renewing the old white porcelain enamel surface of salvaged cast-iron baths. [See full obituary at salvoweb.com for a longer discussion of this process.]
‘Eighth world wonder’
Shaw bought Hindhead Bus Garage, 50,000 sq ft of covered area just off the A3, and spent a fortune on the rebuild, opening it in February 1999 and renaming it the Kirkpatrick Building after his war-hero father who had been killed in action in 1951.
“It’s the eighth wonder of the world”, Midlands salvage dealer Ronnie Wootton told SalvoNEWS after a guided tour of the new premises in February 1999.
The vast heated showrooms held masses of stock and allowed the display of very large items.
For example, a fancy Victorian two-storey curved iron and glass staircase from the old Mappin & Webb building was displayed at the opening. One large showroom was devoted to Drummonds reproductions of cast-iron baths, brass door and window furniture, garden ornament, ironmongery and Victorian conservatories.
In order to finance the Kirkpatrick Building, Shaw had invited several friends to invest as shareholders, including Baron Dolf Sweerts de Landas, a nearby dealer in antique garden ornament. The company then simply became Drummonds Architectural Antiques.
The legendary rivalry between two former salvage dealers, Shaw and Simon Kirby, who were also both authenticity-obsessed traditional new sanitaryware protagonists continued unabated, deadly serious but friendly and gentlemanly, and played out in, among other locales, the various Salvo convivial evenings where members engaged in joshing banter and vituperative insults.
Shaw then started trading as Drummonds Architectural Designs with a range of new brassware and cast-iron baths, which after a few years, blossomed into Drummonds Bathrooms.
The gladiatorial combat between these colossi of the customary comfort room evaporated like a zephyr of steam when Kirby sold Thomas Crapper & Co in 2016.
Drummonds booked stands at Salvo Fair, Decorex, Chelsea Flower Show, displays on Salvo stands at Earl’s Court Ideal Home Show, Olympia Period Home Show, Listed Property Show and at R&R in Washington.
The firm was also featured in home interest titles such as English Home, Homes & Gardens, House & Garden, La Maison, Sleeper, World of Interiors and Architectural Digest. Shaw opened a shop and showrooms in Pimlico, Kings Road, Notting Hill and New York.
In 2008 Shaw, who had booked a large stand at Salvo Fair, discussed some of the stock he wanted to shift and his future plans in a video interview [salvonews.blogspot.com/2008/06/drummond-shaw-interviewed-by-thornton.html].
This included thoughts on the salvage trade, his new businesses, Drummonds Flooring, some of the areas he found less profitable in architectural salvage, and plans for leaving Hindhead.
The subsequent move from Hindhead in 2013 came as the business was significantly stepping up its manufacture of the eponymous range of new bathroom fittings, door furniture, window brassware and wooden flooring.
Trading in architectural antiques and reclaimed building material was reduced. The term ‘architectural antiques’ was dropped from the company name in favour of ‘bathrooms’ to form Drummonds Bathrooms Ltd in which Shaw’s legacy lives on, now managed by Stafford Whitby and James Lentaigne, and the flooring and brassware business now managed by his son-in-law Gregory Payne.
Shaw’s first alleged job as plumber’s mate was followed by six weeks commis waitering at Claridges, management trainee at Sandell Perkins, now Travis Perkins, and then a spell as a City commodity broker. His grandfather’s family business (on his mother’s side) had been Broads Builders Merchants, which was incorporated into Sandell Perkins, followed by Glynwed, which became the Aga group in 2001.
The Shaw family was entitled to wear the Scottish MacDonald tartan, and his maternal grandmother was an Irish belle, so Drummond Shaw was a mix of both Irish and Scottish heritage.
Drummond John Hay Shaw died peacefully at home on June 28 and will be sadly missed by his family and friends. He leaves his sister, Fleur, half-sister Charmian, step-brother David, three daughters, Ella, Scarlett, and Hayley, and four grandchildren. He was married three times. His last wife Rosie nursed him at home in Dorset with the help of his daughters.
Original to the end, Shaw asked Norbert, his loyal carpenter, to make his coffin from reclaimed old flooring, and was due to be driven to the crematorium in his beloved old Volvo by Glasgow Pete.
A memorial gathering is planned in his honour in late August.
From Thornton Kay
A longer version of this obituary, along with personal tributes, is available at salvoweb.com/salvonews/37726-drummond-shaw-1950-2023