TV antiques expert seeks help rebuilding fire-ravaged Arts and Crafts Eco Project near Halesworth

Aftermath of a barn fire in Holton.

Aftermath of a barn fire in Holton. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A television antiques expert has appealed for help rebuilding his eco-friendly arts centre in Suffolk after a major blaze destroyed the historic sawmill that was to be its showroom and workshops.

Tony Geering, who is a regular guest on Dickinson real Deal, has spent the past five years working on plans for the Arts and Crafts Eco Project in Holton, near Halesworth.

Inspired by the ideals of William Morris and John Ruskin who began “The Arts and Crafts Movement” more than a century ago, the project aims to “work organically with the land and harmonise with the environment”.

Mr Geering describes it as “an experiment in architecture, art and design” which aims to create a working community for artists and craftsmen “using cutting edge renewable energies, incorporating sustainable materials and all things green”. It is also intended to help disadvantaged young people.

Planning permission was granted in 2011 and parts of the scheme had already been delivered, including a 34.6kW solar panel system, however work had only recently started on the old sawmills on the site when it was devastated by fire last week.

Mr Geering, who also owns The Dome Art and Antique Centre in Southwold, said the fire had destroyed many of his own personal collectible antiques, as well as tools and materials for the construction, and “so much history” contained in the building itself. “I cannot even start to think what important antiques and works of art from The Arts and Crafts Movement I have personally lost which I had in storage in one of the units there,” he added.

To get the project back on track, Mr Geering has appealed for anyone with leftover building materials, including lengths of wood and wooden beams, to donate them to the project, along with tools.

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He is also seeking volunteer tradesmen, particularly those who have worked with traditional materials, and is offering full training in return for their assistance.

The project includes a variety of sustainable building practices, using renewable energy, rainwater harvesting and “eco toilets”.

“Our ultimate goal is to be completely off grid and become a college teaching arts and crafts and all things green,” he added.

To offer help, call Mr Geering on 07966 371676, or email

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