Liberty, London’s renowned department store, is parting with three floors’ worth of 1920s woodwork from the original shop with the help of architectural salvage firm Salvo.
It is a huge array of pieces including two grand staircases that once connected the basement showrooms to the ground floor in six flights each, as well as a panelled entrance hall and column casings. The timber is believed to be mahogany, oak, softwood supports and French walnut.
Most of the collection is stored in around 400 packages in a secure store near London Gatwick, and requires four 18-tonne curtain sided trucks to transport. Last month some of the elements were on display in Liberty’s furniture department, and though viewing in situ is possible up to a point, it is impossible to examine the whole offering in detail.
Salvo, which guides the price at £40,000, reminds potential buyers that the attraction goes beyond the minutiae of the craftsmanship. Part of the appeal is historic. Even when Liberty was first being constructed in 1924 the wood was old.
Designed by Edwin T Hall and his son, the woodwork was formed using 24,000 cubic feet of timbers from two historic battle ships: HMS Impregnable and HMS Hindustan.
As well as its historical importance it offers a recycling opportunity. The segments carry Salvo’s ‘Truly Reclaimed’ label, which the business uses to signpost materials recovered through responsible sourcing. According to a study by the firm, reuse of the pieces in an architectural project could equate to a carbon emission saving of around 26 tonnes.
Sara Morel, CEO of Salvo, says: “The emergence of the ‘reclaimed look’ as a design trend has driven faked alternatives. Beyond misleading people with pretend eco-friendliness, the issue is the environmental cost, not simply of the new, but the additional cost of making the new look antique and reclaimed.”