TV antiques specialist ‘devastated’ after blaze destroys irreplaceable antiques at Arts and Crafts Eco Project near Halesworth
- Credit: Nick Butcher
An antiques specialist and television personality says he is “more determined than ever” to complete his eco-friendly arts centre after a fire destroyed the old sawmill that was to be its showroom.
Tony Geering, who is a regular guest on ITV’s Dickinson Real Deal, said he was “devastated” to learn of the blaze that today ripped through part of the Arts and Crafts Eco Project he is working on in Holton, near Halesworth.
Suffolk police are investigating the fire, which was reported at about 6.50am, destroying the 60ft x 40ft barn in Sandy Lane along with its contents and Mr Geering’s Renault box van.
Roger Barnes, landlord at the Lord Nelson Inn, which overlooks the site, described being woken by the noise of the fire, which “sounded like guns going off” as 30ft flames shot through the barn roof.
Mr Geering, who also owns The Dome Art and Antique Centre in Southwold and has co-presented five episodes of Kirstie’s Home Made Home with Kirstie Allsopp on Channel 4, said he lost “quite a lot” of personal items in the fire and was not insured.
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“There were some lovely antiques, some important artwork, and it’s all gone for ever,” he said.
“It’s a massive loss for me.”
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Mr Geering would not disclose the value of the antiques but said they included some important furniture by William Morris, who was a associated with the British Arts and Crafts movement and Charles Robert Ashbee, who was also a prime mover in the scene.
The sawmill was to form a key part of the Arts and Crafts Eco Project that he was creating on the site with his brother Jeff Geering. It is described as “an experiment in architecture, art and design, creating a working community for artists and craftsmen”.
Using renewable energy, and by growing organic produce on the site, it aims to offer a centre for “sustainable living, working in harmony with the environment to achieve a zero carbon footprint”. Mr Geering was also keen to use the project to help deprived youngsters.
A 34.6kW solar panel system has already been installed on the site but work had only just begun on the sawmill, which was to be the showrooms, workshops and warehouse for the project.
“All of that works been undone now but it’s not going to deter us,” Mr Geering said.
“If anything it’s made us more determined than ever.”
Any witnesses should contact Pc Andrew Phillips at Halesworth Police Station on 101 quoting reference BE/15/349, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Visit www.acecoproject.co.uk for more information about the project