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There’s no pretence to this collector and antiques dealer turned TV star’s passion.
You may recognise him from the Discovery television series Salvage Hunters, but Conwy-based antiques expert Drew Pritchard is no actor.
He has lived and breathed the trade and collection of historic artefacts for more than 25 years.
“My father was a signwriter, and he realised that I had a bit of an eye – he taught me how to look at things,” explains Pritchard.
“The love of antiques kicked in when I was eight or nine, and that obsession has been with me ever since.
“I knew then that I wanted to be an antiques dealer; I started reading about art and antiques voraciously.
“I didn’t really go to school very often, and didn’t really learn anything while I was there. I left school at 15 with no qualifications, but knowing what I was going to do.”
Pritchard’s foot in the door was a job that amounted to little more than lifting a box of lead before training as a stained-glass restorer, entering antiques full-time in ’93.
His specialism is both vague and oddly specific: “I tend to buy anything that looks as if it might belong in the house of a very drunk old army major – the sort of house that’s been passed down for 200 years.”
He does a brisk trade in bread-and-butter items, but some pieces mean more and form a sprawling collection.
One of the most treasured is a toolbox that belonged to Sir Malcolm Campbell, a vast blue crate emblazoned with the record-breaker’s name.
“It’s got that sense of magic about it,” says Pritchard. “You can see where ‘Sir’ was added later, and where there was a stamp or something on it. Underneath is the original blue. It’s a hell of a thing. I paid 20 grand for it, and I think it’s worth… about 20 grand!”
“They’re made by Hazet, which also made the tools,” he explains. “The Hazet Tourist was created for the 356 and I’ve got three – the first cost £80 from a house clearance and had no tools.
“I collect period Volkswagen service signs as well – I’ve got two originals.”
His passion for air-cooled classics began after trading his Capri 1600 L for a ’68 split-window Microbus. His storage facility is so overrun with classics that it’s nicknamed ‘The Garage’.
“In ’68 they really mixed things up between short-wheelbase and long-wheelbase models, so parts are very hard to find. I’ve just managed to get a set of new-old-stock Durant mirrors, two 5.5in Fuchs wheels and an RS driver’s seat, plus a period Prototipo Le Mans steering wheel that Andy Prill found.
“I also have a set of Speedwell magnesium BRM wheels. There aren’t many left in the world and I’ve got a full set. I found them three years ago after 20 years of looking – they’re going on my ’51.”
One of Pritchard’s most prized possessions is more compact: a bimetal Rolex Datejust.
“I bought it when I was 23,” he says, “at my first antiques fair. I’d always wanted one, and the guy next to me was selling watches – he was asking £1500.
“I had a storming fair and made a load of money, and he had an appalling one. He came back to me on the third day and said, ‘Do you still want that Rolex? £700 and it’s yours.’ That was 1993, and I only took it off last year.”
Images: Eleri Griffiths