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June 23, 2007, 05:00 PM

Baltic Exchange sells to Estonia via Salvo Fair and a SalvoWEB ad

By Thornton Kay

Dennis Buggins, early 2006, with Baltic Exchange elements in a Kent barn

Pediment arriving at Salvo Fair Knebworth July 2006

London West, UK - THE Baltic Exchange has been bought via an ad on SalvoWEB for around the asking price of 750,000 from Extreme Architecture of Kent by two Estonian businessmen, Eerik-Niiles Kross and Heiti Haar, and has been shipped to Tallinn where it will be rebuilt as part of a prestige office and housing development.

"This is the largest chunk of architectural salvage to have found a home via the internet," said Thornton Kay, one of the two partners of Salvo Llp, the London and Bath based global information network for demolished buildings. "SalvoWEB was set up in 1994 and is the oldest salvage site on the web. We were there before Yell and eBay, and we still attract more visitors than either - around 14,000 a day - in our sector of the market."

"The 1902 Baltic Exchange in the City of London was where the world's shipping was handled inside a massive marble-clad trading hall with a classical frontage, which was photographed, marked up, carefully dismantled and trucked to warehouses in Reading after the blast from an IRA bomb knocked it off its footings in 1992. The plan was to rebuild it, but during that period the shipping floor became an anachronism, so after a lot of umming and ahhing the insurers were given permission to build what has become Norman Foster's iconic Gherkin on the site."

"Then English Heritage tried to sell the old building intact, but failed, so eventually it was put on the market and bought first by North Wales salvage dealer Derek Davies, who shipped the 50 or more artic loads from Reading to Cheshire. Derek advertised the Baltic Exchange in SalvoNEWS. Restorer and dealer Dennis Buggins, of Extreme Architecture in Kent, bought it from Derek and then moved the whole lot to various farm buildings and barns around Canterbury."

"Every year we hold the world's only architectural salvage fair at Knebworth in July, so last year Dennis booked the biggest stand at the fair and brought some of the Baltic Exchange, including the 40ft long stone pediment carvings. We commissioned performance artist Mark McGowan to highlight our 'Reclamation before Recycling' campaign, and he chose to do this by somersaulting from the Gherkin to Knebworth, which took him an arduous two weeks, arriving at Knebworth during the Salvo Fair."

"Salvo Fair is organised by Ruby Kay, my daughter, with the help of siblings Boz Kay, Beth Kay, Poppy Kay and Lily Kay, and of course me - the ageing Dad. The next one will be held next weekend (Fri 29 Jun trade day, and Sat 30 June and Sun 1 July), and we hope that it will not only encourage people to think about reuse of old building materials, rather than their destruction in landfill, but persuade them come and buy. Five hundred tons of materials will be available for sale on five acres of Knebworth's deer park just off the A1(M) in Hertfordshire. This year there will be a load of interesting stuff including parts of the old Royal Box at Ascot, flagstones from Paternoster Square and Lord Snowdon's London Zoo aviary, a possible Roman stone aqueduct from France, a pillar box from Mortlake, ten brutalist 1960's stone planters from Stevenage town centre, and even some bits of old Serbian smokehouses"

"Eerik-Niiles Kross, the Tallinn businessman and historian who at one time ran Estonia's secret service and represented Estonia at NATO talks, was trawling SalvoWEB on the internet for reclaimed flooring at the time of last year's Salvo Fair, and came across the ad for the Baltic Exchange. He is the son of one of Estonia's most famous authors, Jaan Kross, who was incarcerated as a patriot in 1944 by the Nazi's, before being captured by the Red army in 1946 and spending eight years in a Siberian gulag, only being allowed home when Stalin died."

"I had not realised quite how good the Estonians had become on the web. For example they invented Skype, and they are now the most informed state in Europe on state-wide ddos attacks after Russian government servers tried to bring their entire network down last year. This was after the Estonians moved a prominent Russsian war memorial into a cemetery, upsetting the Russians who live in Estonia."

"I guess that Kross and his partner, Heiti Haal, see the rebuilding of the Baltic Exchange in Tallinn as a kind of bricks-and-mortar political statement, establishing a feature building that not only creates another dimension to the architecture of Tallinn, much of which is Soviet, but also pointedly brings a physical part of the financial culture of the West bang up against the Russian border. The Baltic countries have put on a brave face against intimidation by the Russians for decades."

"Interestingly, the movement of reclaimed materials around Europe has been gathering momentum, in the UK partly due to the stupidity of the government spending hundreds of millions in the past ten years crushing bricks and chipping reusable demolition wood as mulch. The shortage of local materials means that we now import reclaimed flooring and bricks from Estonia, so it is fitting that we should export an architectural icon back to them. Although you could argue that it makes no sense in climate change terms to move materials long distances, moving old bricks 1000 miles by ship expends a fraction of the energy used in making new ones, so it is still beneficial to the environment. The UK salvage trade were world pioneers and are still, despite the difficulties, probably world leaders."

"We use 3,000 million new bricks a year in the UK, and we destroy 3,000 million old ones, and every 12 bricks embodies the energy of a gallon of petrol - so where's the logic of that? The UK salvage trade rescue around 130 million of these bricks, for which they receive no subsidy, while WRAP - the UK government quango - gives millions of pounds a year to help crush reusable old bricks. Ten years ago none were crushed, now probably 2 billion or more are crushed every year. We have written to successive ministers of state, including David Milliband, but without success. The government would be better off tipping the bricks whole into landfill, because then at least they could be mined and reused in 100 years time, and they would not be wasting the huge amount of fossil fuel that it takes to crush them all."

"Derek Davies and Dennis Buggins should be congratulated for their tenacity in taking on the Baltic Exchange project and successfully concluding it. Three times Dennis has nearly sold the Baltic Exchange, for a home in Long Island NY, for a housing and office scheme at Greenwich UK, and to the developers of London's Battersea power station. These two guys succeeded when the combined forces of the City of London, Swiss Re, English Heritage and UK conservation movement failed to achieve its relocation. At one stage it looked as if the fabulous marble would be turned into kitchen work surfaces, and the stone would be landfilled. Now at least the building has been kept intact and will be appreciated. When it is no longer required in Tallinn in a hundred years time, who knows, someone may buy it and bring it back to blighty!"

Thornton Kay
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Come to the Salvo Fair at Knebworth
Sat 30 Jun & Sun 1 Jul 2007
www dot salvo-fair dot com
Trade Day Fri 29 Jun
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NOTE: The text above was sent out as a press release to the UK media

Baltic Exchange tympanum resurfaces in Estonia gallery

Salvo Fair 2015 has a record 1,300 tonnes of salvage

Baltic Exchange lies unreused in Paldiski

Derek Davies' 2003 ad on SalvoWEB, modified in 2006 after Dennis Buggins bought it
Jun 2007 article about Kross and Haal

Story Type:  News

ID: 32590

Date Modified: February 20, 2012, 01:20 PM

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