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Salvage Hunter bags Irish bargains

FeaturesBy Roisin Gorman
Drew Pritchard in Belfast
Drew Pritchard in Belfast

Salvage hunter Drew Pritchard has discovered a batch of bargains in Northern Ireland.

 

The Quest TV presenter found so many gems on his first visit to Belfast, Armagh and Derry he’s already planning to come back.

Antiques expert Drew has a cult following for his no-nonsense style of negotiation and his nose for a vintage find, regularly pull in up to 3 million viewers on Salvage Hunters.

He travels thousands of miles every year sniffing out hidden gems, but he’d never been to Northern Ireland until he came with the camera crew for the first time.

“I went to On the Square in Belfast and filled half the van there. I took the stuff home, restored it and sold it all back to another dealer in Belfast,” says the expert.

“In Armagh I found a wonderful 18th century armchair. Ireland has a long tradition of making exceptional furniture and anything that’s 18th or 19th century and from Ireland is very good quality.

“I went to Ireland because I knew there were a lot of dealers. We’d already had a call from a stately home, so I talked to the TV people and they agreed.”

The 44 year old was also rounding up 20th century bargains, which helped guarantee his return.

“There was a lot of modernist stuff too and it was all good. Everything was a goer.

“I’m already planning the next trip with another dealer.”

Drew says it’s taken years of expertise to learn what sells and what doesn’t.

He also has to stay on top of shifting tastes in a market which can change in a few months.

“Things used to go in and out of fashion every few years; now it’s every couple of months.

“At the minute it tends to be good quality 60s and 70s furniture from Europe, Dutch lighting, and old school country house worn stuff, like boho chic.

“For me to buy something I have to fall in love with it a bit.”

He learned his craft with his father, an artist and sign writer, who brought him around art galleries and taught him how to spot quality.

“I’ve been doing this since I was 11 or 12 so I’ve got plenty of experience but my father taught me a lot.

“I was dragged around Europe as a child as he showed me how to look at something correctly and how to notice things that are wrong,” says Drew.

But the downside of his Salvage Hunters following is that everyone wants him to look at their cast offs.

“I don’t know how the girls in the office deal with it. Every day there are people on the phone who have got a mangle, or a cast iron bath or an old gate. The best ones ring up and say they live in Norfolk and they’ve got a chair for sale so could I pop by.”

With a nose for the unusual he says his strangest find was a walking stick made from the vertebrae of a shark.

His clients include Hollywood stars and royalty as well as London store, Liberty’s, and his expertise has helped him unearth gems like a William Morris collection of stained glass which was worth over £100,000.

That wasn’t his most profitable discovery – a religious artefact early in Drew’s career proved to be his best money spinner.

“The profit from that bought me my first premises.

“I couldn’t possibly tell you how much that was but I haven’t found anything like that since,” says Drew.

Salvage Hunters is on Quest every Wednesday at 9pm. The Northern Ireland edition will be shown on November 18.

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