‘Throwaway society’ to lose antiques shop in Burgess Hill

Damon Lefton has worked full time at British Antique Replicas since his father Norman Lefton, the former owner, died in 2006

Damon Lefton has worked full time at British Antique Replicas since his father Norman Lefton, the former owner, died in 2006


Thanks to a ‘throwaway society’ a furniture shop will close down after 35 years of trading in Burgess Hill.

British Antique Replicas on School Close near Queen Elizabeth Avenue has been run by Damon Lefton, 43, since his father Norman Lefton, who founded the business, died in 2006.

He said: “It’s sad that we’ve finished but we have to move on.”

At its height in the mid 90s the furniture shop had 50 employees, which has now reduced to just six.

Damon’s sister Michelle, who helps run the business, said: “People just don’t want to buy nice furniture anymore, it’s a throwaway society.

“People just want to go to IKEA instead, but that’s life.”

The closure comes at a time when independent businesses have struggled to function in Burgess Hill.

Many have closed as competition grows, making way for chain shops, cafes, and nail bars.

Norman Lefton opened the antiques shop in 1979.

“It’s hard to put into words,” Damon added.

“I’ve been aware of this place since I was a child, but every good thing must come to an end.”

By the mid 1990s demand was so great it became exclusively a shop for replica furniture.

Damon continued: “Like most family businesses everyone was roped in at one stage or another, I was answering the phones when I was about ten.”

Most of the antique replicas are made on site.

Carpenter Colin Backshall, who has worked at the company since 1980, said he is sad it will be closing.

“Colin can pretty much make anything,” the owner explained.

“Some people have specialities, but he can make anything.”

British Antique Replicas has made furniture for well known people in entertainment, sport and finance.

“Ken Dodd came round once and had everybody laughing,” said Colin.

The business has also provided furniture for palaces and embassies from Portugal to Saudi Arabia.

Damon said: “Such is their nature the owners were all quite confidential.

“We’ve sold to some diplomatic offices, even Buckingham Palace a few times but unfortunately we didn’t make enough for them to get a royal warrant.”

Norman Lefton started trading in antiques in the early 1960s.

Later in the same decade he opened a furniture shop in Newhaven before moving to Burgess Hill.

Though customers have been disappointed about the imminent closure of the shop, the owner said they have ‘all been very kind’.

“Everything is 70 per cent off the marked price now until the end of June so people can have a bargain for some English made furniture,” he added.

Damon, who lives near Brighton, is unsure where he will go from here as he is currently tackling the huge task of closing down the business.

The building is full of hundreds of antiques and replicas as their policy was to order in or craft new versions of items rather than sell displayed furniture.

This developed the building into the impressive showroom it is today.

“It certainly is a long winded task,” Damon said.

“I’ve got a few months to sort it out and see where I go from here.”

Plans for the site are yet to be confirmed.




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