Step away from Exeter’s main high street and you will stumble across Francis Kay Vintage in the thriving independent destination that is McCoy’s Arcade. The go to spot for fully restored vintage typewriters, cameras, Hi-Fi’s and more, visit this Aladdin’s cave to step back in time to an era where technology was built to last.
For this week’s #FinditinExeter we caught up with Chris, the owner of this emporium, to chat all things vintage technology.
Francis Kay was Chris’s Grandfather, hailing from the make do and mend era he taught Chris everything he now knows. Alongside the required skills, he also passed down the mindset and passion that you always try and fix something that’s broken – the golden rule being you never throw something away. This is Francis Kay Vintage’s ethos. Here, Chris can restore pretty much any item of vintage technology, preventing any of his product going to landfill. His product also comes with either a 3-month or 12-month guarantee, but in his entire time of selling an item it has never needed to come back!
Francis Kay Vintage is a vintage technology specialist and restorer: the business both acquires items itself to restore and sell on, and sees people bring in their own items to be restored.
Though he’s always been a tinkerer, Chris has not always done this as a career. Originally from Wolverhampton, after studying Civil and Mechanical Engineering at a polytechnic, for 26 years he moved around the country as a pub and nightclub manager. When it was time for a change of lifestyle, Chris relocated to Devon, bought a few pieces of vintage technology from Ebay to restore, and the business grew from there. He has now been in his shop for 2 ½ years and his product is in such demand that he is now looking for an employee who can also restore vintage technology alongside him.
Chris muses how many of his products are bought by the younger generation who are excitedly discovering the items for the very first time and realising they are far more authentic, environmentally friendly and pleasing than modern technology. Be it a film camera, radio, record player or typewriter from decades ago, each of these soulful items come with an unwritten story of their lifetime.
Chris’s favourite item he has dealt with is an original radio receiver from a WWII Lancaster Bomber, which he rebuilds so people can now listen to Radio 1 on a radio that 80 years ago was 20,00ft up in the air fighting for its country.
Whether you are old or young, detach yourself from the modern world for a moment and pop in and say hello to Chris at Francis Kay Vintage. You will discover countless objects that were both made and restored with pride.
Francis Kay Vintage can be found in McCoy’s Arcade on Fore Street. The workshop and shop are open Monday – Friday 10:30am – 5pm, and Saturday 10:30am – 6pm.