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September 30, 2011, 05:36 PM

Masco Walcot - What a way to go!

By Peter Watson

Gloucestershire, UK - Masco Walcot Architectural salvage and Statuary sale
Minchinhampton,Saturday , 24th September 2011.

Steve Tomlin and Debbie Kedge's Masco site has always been the finest example of a quintessentialy English salvage yard blending ample supplies of base reclaimed building materials with some of the most spectacular architectural pieces to be seen anywhere. It has been a pleasure to visit with a guaranteed warm,energetic welcome combined with boundless enthusiasm for the industry. The closure of the yard will be a blow to all.

As was to be expected, the clearance auction was quite an event. Widely advertised and publicised, the whole world and his dog turned up. Private buyers, developers and the trade were all heavily represented. Dealers from Wales, Northern Ireland, Cumbria, East Anglia ,the Midlands and locally were to be seen with bulging pockets, ready to spend. Recession? What recession?

Two auctions ran consecutively.Building materials in the main showroom and architectural pieces in a marquee. The sense of occasion was intensified with a champagne reception and rousing words of introduction spoken from the heart by Steve himself. The moment Glen Snelgar, ace auctioneer from Wellers, sold the first lot the race was on.Stone troughs were immediately selling for well above top estimate, a 32" dia. granite round trough fetching 600 against a top estimate of 120 . This was repeated throughout the sale much to the dismay of the trade, who hoping to pick up some bargains, looked on in dismay, slightly shell shocked.

Extraordinary prices were reached in the battle for internal Cotswold stone flags which fetched 280 per sq yard , plus vat and buyers premium that equates to 440 per sq metre. Forest of Dean flagstones weren't far behind. The Lloyds of London marble cladding was fetching up to 1,000 pallet against top estimate of 120. and there were 50 pallets of the stuff! Steve could be seen smiling. In the other sale room pallets of Ashlar limestone were fetching 220 (est 120).

Of the "big ticket" items the Dorchester Hotel staircase sold for 12,500 (top est 8000) after fierce bidding in the room. The Ollerton Foundry gazebo went for 5,500 (est. 1500), the Charterhouse Entrance fetched a mid estimate 12,500 . One of the few failures was the Portland Stone Rotunda which was bought in at 25,000. Low to mid estimate prices were to be seen on a lot of the doors and fireplaces. Other attention grabbers: a cast iron statue of Mercury 2100 (est 600), Monet style bridge 5,000 (est 2500), carved statue of a shepherd boy 1,600 (est 500) and on and on.

Wellers worked the room, commission bids, the phones and the internet hard and built up quite a banter with the audience, for that is what it was. Pure theatre. Just after 6.00pm as darkness descended on the marquee, the sale was moved into main showroom. With a typical Masco flourish, the wine was broken out to keep the still substantial crowd happy. At this point fair mention should be made of the catering facilities. The bacon butty from the catering wagon is accepted auction fair. Not at Masco.Oh no. Venison and Wild Boar hot dogs! Pheasant and partridge burgers! Now that is style. As were the loos. Veneered panelling, piped music and a choice of hand lotions. Oh yes.

The auction finished at 8.30 pm., with many still in the room all in good humour for it had been an exciting and entertaining day with a total not far short of 1m. The trade went away still with slightly diminished bulging pockets but cheered by the fact that there is still some life in the market place. Let's hope the enthusiasm is contagious .

Speaking after the sale, Tomlin commented " I was overwhelmed by the way it went and delighted and surprised to see so many familiar faces turning out. Where were they when we needed them the over the last two barren years?" A point on which much of the trade would concur. "I intend to devote myself to campaigning for better recognition of the reclamation trade both from local and national bodies and to lecturing on environmental sustainability with the aim of re-using more reclaimed building materials and sending less to the crusher and land fill." Debbie hopes to continue in architectural salvage.

So, a mammoth task completed and an era ended in a blaze of glory. What a way to go!

Cox's Yard

Story Type:  Auction Report

ID: 61976

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