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Jim Cole, manager of the family run business, D Cole Supplies & Bathroom Specialist in Wotton Under Edge, was once crowned the “King of Colour”. This aptly chosen name tag came about due to his acclaimed success in being able to supply his customers with almost any discontinued sanitary ware in a great range of colours, from Pampas to Avocado, Turquoise to Sky-Blue and Shell Pink to Burgundy, to name but a few. Jim is able to source vintage sanitary ware, some of it going back to the 1950's, from suppliers such as Armitage Shanks, Doulton, Ideal Standard, Twyfords, Qualitas and Spring.
Now in its 21st year of trading, this firm continues to celebrate its success by being one of the very few businesses in the country to have an almost 100% success rate in supplying vintage sanitary ware.
Coloured bathroom suites came into vogue in the decades following the 2nd World War. In the years immediately after the war, people had to pay a 70% luxury tax if they wanted to have their loo in any colour other than white. When the tax was abolished in 1950's the country splashed out on colourful new bathroom suites. But, as we all know from watching the plethora of designer home programmes on television, white has been the preferred choice of interior designers since the 90's.
Jim Cole says “I joined the family business in 1988, then run by my brother, David, who concentrated on supplying paint and hardware. When I joined, I soon realised there was a niche market for discontinued sanitary ware. Nobody else seemed to be supplying it. So I started researching supply sources and gradually over the years I have built up a solid base of contacts. If it's still around, I can usually get any part, big or small, from cistern handles to replacement baths in any colour . We also run two successful websites www.bathroomobsoletes.co.uk and www.dcolesupplies.com. The growth of the internet has meant I have been able to help not only people in the U.K., but I've had customers from as far away as the Maldives”. In today's climate, Jim believes his service is more important then ever. ”Not everybody wants to or can afford to replace an entire bathroom suite just because the wash basin is cracked, which is where I come in. I can track most discontinued stock down within hours and have it delivered to my customers within days”.
This, combined with his almost encyclopaedic knowledge, has made Jim a bit of a legend, not just with his customers, but within the industry itself. Show him a cistern lid or scrap of a broken basin and the chances are he will be able to tell you where it was made, the year of make and the manufacturer and what the chances are of replacing it! In fact, if it wasn't for the slightly off-the-wall topic, there's something almost poetic about what he does: Armitage Shanks and Doulton, Ideal Standard and Twyfords, Qualitas and Spring, 2 part Rotas, close-coupled, low level or siphonic, back-to-wall or wall-hung, one, two or three tap, semi-recessed, under-counter, standard or offset corner!