Army surplus store opens in Haltwhistle

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IT may be a rank outsider – but there’s no disguising the latest fashion trend to hit South Tynedale.

Military clothing, boots and even protective headwear are being sold from a shop in Haltwhistle town centre which once specialised in equipment for DIY home improvement projects.

Standing to attention is Alistair Burrowes, who has transformed the former ‘Bits ‘N’ Pieces’ store in the Market Place into a traditional army store.

Centre of Britain Army Surplus is a new base for the Haydon Bridge man, who has built up a fascinating collection of army gear from around the world.

It includes a vast array of surplus items not only from the British Army, but from military organisations in America, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Sweden, Croatia, Holland, Russia, Germany, Finland, the Czech and Solvak Republics.

And there’s plenty in store for enthusiasts of vintage gear, with many items dating back decades.

Alistair said: “I’m enjoying it. We’ve been open for a few weeks now and there has been a lot of interest from people. We get people in with military connections. They relate to a lot of the things we have here, and they tell us their stories.”

Alistair, who has a keen interest in both military and local history, has built up his collection of clothing and memorabilia over several years.

He started obtaining surplus gear for friends and family, and eventually set up an online business, which he continues to run alongside the shop.

He explained: “We just outgrew our storage unit and decided it was time to open a shop where people could actually come in and see what we’ve got.”

Wandering around the spacious store, there’s plenty to browse at. From Czech parka-style jackets to Hungarian camouflage, cold weather hats and helmets, to vintage woolly jumpers from the 1950s.

There are flags, badges, bags and document cases, and Alistair, who runs the business with the support of his family, said there’s always something new or different in store.

For more information, visit the Centre of Britain Army Surplus page on Facebook.

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