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The entire stock, valued at hundreds of thousands of pounds, was saved when members of the public formed a human chain to clear the building after spotting smoke pouring out into the high street just after 1pm, although there was considerable water damage to some of the furniture as a result of the efforts to put out the fire. The blaze is thought to have started in a top floor flat that is not part of the business. Fire crews took several hours to put out the fire and stayed until Sunday morning to make sure it did not restart.

Mr Swaffer told the Antiques Trade Gazette: “We've lost the ceilings in five of our showrooms – but everything over the main shop has been destroyed and will have to be rebuilt. That's the one part of the building I don't own.”

Full restoration is expected to take about 18 months, during which time, Mr Swaffer will continue operating his business from the warehouse, 9am-6pm seven days a week. You can contact him on 01903 882132.