It is the end of an era for Torbay costume king Lionel Digby - but he’s not putting his feet up just yet
It’s the end of an era for Torquay costume king Lionel Digby.
After 38 years in the costume hire business, the 84-year-old has sold his entire collection to an Oxford based film studio.
It will take three months to move Lionel’s unique collection of thousands of costumes, which is housed over three floors at his warehouse in Market Street, to the new owners’ studio.
Flame Torbay Costume Hire, one of the biggest costume suppliers in the country, had been on the market for several years but Lionel was keen that his collection remained together and in the UK.
New owners Rebellion have renamed the company Rebellion Flame in recognition of Lionel’s life’s work.
And they are recording the move for a documentary.
His extensive collection, which includes the second largest military costume collection in the country running to 10,000 costumes, stretches from Roman and Medieval up to the 1970s.
Lionel explained: “I’d had enquiries over the years to buy bits and pieces but I didn’t want to break it up.”
It all began in 1982 when Lionel’s wife Yvonne was running a fancy dress costume business while he was busy as a music promoter bringing popular bands to the Bay.
He began hiring out some of his military costumes for films, tv series and theatrical productions.
He has bought tock from the likes of the BBC and Royal Opera House when they were clearing out their wardrobe departments.
He also bought a film costume business as well as buying up government military surplus.
The collection, which mostly survived a fire at the warehouse in 2011, also features original accessories and props such as swords and shields.
His business has supplied costumes for, among many others, the Oscar-winning King’s Speech, Goodbye Christopher Robin, The Crown and TV’s Doyle’s War and Downton Abbey.
Lionel was also employed as a costume designer and adviser.
He says he has some ‘irons in the fire’ and has been writing a book about his music career and still has his personal collection of militaria to add to.