WHEN building contractor Tony Phillips was called to Bromley Cross to build an extension, he had no idea he would end up dismantling the workshop of one the world’s most notorious art forgers.

Bolton Council enlisted the help of J Phillips and Sons in March, 2006, to build a rear extension at a house in The Crescent.

The job seemed simple enough, but there was one thing in the way — the neighbour’s rickety shed.

It was only when Mr Phillip’s father read a report in The Bolton News this week — more than three years later — that he realised he had taken down the workshop of Shaun Greenhalgh.

The same workshop is now being recreated as part of an exhibition of fakes at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. “The shed was falling apart,” said Mr Phillips, aged 48, who removed it in July, 2006, five months after the Amarna Princess, bought by Bolton Council for £440,000, was revealed as a fake.

Police had already seized several items and Shaun’s mother, Olive, instructed the contractors to throw away everything inside the shed.

“It was full of artists’ equipment; resins, powders, paints. More so than a normal garden shed. Then we found this kiln and little saw. They were too good to throw into the skip,” said Mr Phillips, who got permission from Mrs Greenhalgh to keep the tools.

He said: “Mrs Greenhalgh was a very nice lady. She was quite keen to see it gone but we didn’t realise all this was going on at the time,” he said.

“That shed really was packed with all sorts of things. If that was his workshop, it is even more impressive, given the conditions he was working in.”

Mr Phillips, who is the contracts director at the Westhoughton firm his father set up in 1963, said he understood why Shaun Greenhalgh had become a folk hero in Bolton.

“He never hurt anybody did he? I just think that it’s fantastic that so-called experts who you put so much faith in can be so easily hoodwinked.”

The Metropolitan Police’s art and antiques unit is building a replica model of the shed and has labelled Greenhalgh “the most diverse art forger known in history”.

Many of his fakes, including the Amarna Princess, Risley Park Lanx, Barbara Hepworth Goose and Thomas Moran paintings will be on display.

More than 100 exhibits will be on display, including forgeries of well-known paintings and sculptures, worth millions.

Greenhalgh, currently serving a four-year jail term, has only spoken publicly to The Bolton News.

In January, he expressed regret for causing embarrassment to Bolton Museum and backed the possible return of the statue to his home town.

The V&A display — the first of its kind in the UK — opens in January.