I WAS peering through the peephole of the cell door, my fingers running across the inscriptions left by others who had once been on the wrong side of it.

Had it been on its hinges and attached to the walls of a police station, then I too would probably have been in trouble. But this old hardwood door from Christchurch nick was now standing in a reclamation yard in Bournemouth.

It had been superseded by something more contemporary and was now nothing more than a reminder of what happens when you have a brush with the law.

It was one of many quirky items lying in the Ace Reclamation yard in Barrack Road, West Parley, that caught my attention.

In every nook and cranny of this place there lurks a piece of nostalgia, something that can’t fail to capture the imagination or appeal to the eccentric in all of us.

Granted, there are a lot of old bricks, tiles and railway sleepers and some rusty things I couldn’t even identify, but there is also a whole host of other kooky items.

Take, for example, the iconic red telephone box. There are two of these slices of British history lying in this yard.

These old booths are reminders of a time before mobile phones, when there would be a queue to make calls from them and when every village had one.

Now they are relatively scarce and gradually being consigned to the history books – as are a lot of the items here, including the decorative old lamp-posts, bright red post boxes, old benches and Victorian chimney pots.

It’s sad that we don’ t really make everyday things like these to look good any more – we make them to be cheap and, consequently, they turn out rather dull.

However, if you still cling to past designs and hanker for something different in your home and garden, then no doubt such goods will appeal.

As will items like the metal advertising boards for cigarettes, such as Craven A.

They take you back to the days when smoking wasn’t socially stigmatised, when you could light up in a hospital and when claims like “Will not affect your throat” on billboards seemed perfectly accepteable.

Away from advertising signs, road furniture and jail paraphernalia, there is also a range of garden furniture from yesteryear including stone sculptures, sun dials and ornate, swinging benches.

These would look impressive in most back gardens, although you might have to be careful which ones you pick out as there is the odd questionable item loitering with intent.

Inside the reclamation yard’s warehouse there are more interesting old items with a catalogue of stories behind them, including Victorian baths, old school clothes dryers, decorative doors, ornate furnishings and all manner of eccentric knick-knacks.

However, it is the collection of fireplaces that quite literally represents a roaring trade for Ace Reclam-ation at the moment.

It seems that the high price of fuel and difficult economical climate has changed the way many people warm their homes.

“Sales of wood burners have gone up by a hell of a lot and people are opening up their fires again,” explains Peter Randle, managing director of Ace.

“We’re getting a lot of call for chimney pots, fire baskets and fire grates because people think that for the sake of throwing a few logs on a fire they can save themselves a lot in fuel bills.”

Peter believes that as people refrain from moving house during these turbulent times, they are improving what they have with his reclaimed building materials.

“People aren’t moving from their properties. They tend not to spend money on moving but instead seem to be doing extensions – there is a lot of call for reclaimed bricks and floorboards,” he says.

It might be a collector’s playground, a break away from the style norm or a way of avoiding rising fuel prices – whatever it is, it seems other people’s junk has never been so attractive.