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We are one of the largest high quality reclamation specialists and suppliers of fine architectural antiques and salvage in the UK. In this section you will find pub bar backs (or bar backfittings), chemist and shop back fittings and various components, such as clocks, columns, pilasters and corbels. In pubs and bars the shelving at the back of the bar was called the bar back or backfitting (or back fitting). These back fittings became very elaborate in the Victorian gin palace era with brilliant cut and etched mirrors, brass columns, often with a pediment or clock. A gin palace is an English name originally for a lavish bar selling gin, later transferred by association to late Victorian pubs designed in a similar style. In the 18th century, gin shops or 'dram shops' were just small shops (often originally chemist's shops as gin originally had medicinal associations) that sold gin mostly to take away, or to drink standing up. As the legislation changed establishments generally became larger; they also had to be licensed and sell ale or wine. In the late 1820s the first 'Gin Palaces' were built, Thompson and Fearon's in Holborn and Weller's in Old Street, London. They were based on the new fashionable shops being built at the time, fitted out at great expense and lit by gas lights. They were thought to be vulgar at the time, although hugely popular. Charles Dickens described them as "perfectly dazzling when contrasted with the darkness and dirt we have just left…" in his Sketches by Boz. The design hugely influenced all aspects of the design of later Victorian pubs, even after gin had declined in importance as a drink; the bar in pubs is based on the shop counter of the gin palace, designed for swift service and ideal for attaching beer pumps; the ornate mirrors and etched glass of the late 19th century. The term has survived for any pub in the late 19th century style; as this was the peak of pub building in Britain the style has become associated with the pub, even though no original gin palaces survive. Well preserved examples of the late 19th century style include The Princess Louise in Holborn and The Philharmonic Dining Rooms in Liverpool.
We usually have a variety of backfittings in our warehouse from English gin palace and French salon styles to grocery, chemist shop and Victorian country inn styles. Some are sold in the condition in which we receive them when salvaged. Others have a lot of time invested in their restoration by our skilled craftsmen. Many of our reclaimed backfittings will be completely restored before appearing in our catalogue so if you have particular requirements it is often worth letting us know so that we can inform you of our current stock or add you to our ‘wants’ list.
Bespoke Bar Backfittings
As well as our range of reclaimed and salvaged bar backs we can design and manufacture modular bar backs from antique mouldings to fit into any size or shape. These modular back fittings are constructed with carcasses made from reclaimed wood and are faced with antique carved wood mouldings, usually in mahogany or oak. Please contact us for further information.