Hammer falls on Felixstowe auction

IT WAS a case of going, going . . . gone – not just for the lots on offer, but for the event, too, as the hammer came down on one of Felixstowe's great traditions.

IT WAS a case of going, going . . . gone - not just for the lots on offer, but for the event, too, as the hammer came down on one of Felixstowe's great traditions. Evening Star Felixstowe editor RICHARD CORNWELL went along to Bannister's last auction.

BOXES packed with trinkets and treasures were snapped up in a flurry of waved hands and nodded heads as the eager buyers kept pace with the auctioneers.

Bannister's auction room was again packed, people sidling in to fill the aisles between the tables of lots, each clasping their catalogue, some heading for the warmth of the overhead heaters on a chilly late winter day.

Numbers rattled off the tongues of the auctioneers Richard Bannister and Alan Coy as they spotted bids from all corners of the room.

The pieces of furniture standing around, and boxes of assorted items, each had their own story to tell - the goods and chattels of homes and lives.

It was a kaleidoscope of 600 lots.

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Jewellery, Kelly's directories and books of old Felixstowe, paintings, electrical equipment, clocks, sought-after Bakelite and art deco items, glassware, cutlery, spears and sabres, military items, books, videos, barometers, china, pottery, bicycles, toys, chairs and chests, guns, prints - you would not have been surprised to find the proverbial kitchen sink. There was even a VW Golf GTi car.

But though it was the just like any other sale, there was also a seeping sadness as this was end of an era, the last time they would gather for an auction here.

For Bannister and Co has decided to close the auction room - mainly because of the changes in the way people furnish their homes.

Richard Bannister - the third generation of the family business to auction at the sale room - said the time when young couples setting up their first home came to the sale to furnish it had sadly gone.

And there was evidence of that, too, yesterday as the auctioneers had hard work selling off a Hotpoint washing machine for just a few pounds.

"That's the sort of items that a few years ago would have been snapped up - £5 for a washing machine in working condition that would cost you £250 new. Ideal for someone starting out," said Mr Bannister.

"But now people prefer to buy new. They can go to a furniture warehouse or electrical superstore and get a new TV, sofa, cooker and pay a few pounds a month for so many years.

"It's the way times have changed. From our point of view, and in a strict business sense, the returns for the effort put into running a sale - all the sorting out, getting the items here, cataloguing them, doing the auction - are not always particularly good.

"We decided the time had come to focus on other aspects of our business, surveys and valuations, and probate, where we can still give expert advice and help people find other auction houses."

The auction room in St Andrew's Road is to become a new showroom for Walton High Street business EB Carpets, which is expanding its operations and will use the site for home furnishings.

n Do you have memories of Bannister's auctions at Felixstowe? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

Factfile: Under the hammer

n Bannister's opened its sale rooms in St Andrew's Road, Felixstowe, in 1965.

n Over the past 39 years, around 325 sales have been held.

n More than 170,000 lots have come under the hammer in that time.

n Felixstowe still has a second sale room run by Diamond Mills and Co, but this specialises in fine art and antiques.

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