15-08-27-2205NE02A Richard Winterton auction.jpg
The Richard Winterton auction complex at Fradley.

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While they are keeping their historic town centre base in Lichfield, a 18,500 sq ft site just to the north-east in Fradley will provide five of those salerooms.

The out-of-town base is a familiar one - Richard Winterton originally constructed three salerooms there for livestock and fine art but had to give the site up when the HS2 high-speed rail line was planned to plough straight through it.

Now, however, the HS2 route has shifted 1km away and when Richard Winterton were offered the premises back, they jumped at the chance.

It all means the auction house, run since 1997 by Richard and his wife Jan, can also expand their calendar from monthly three-day auctions to weekly sales. While the Fradley complex can be used for all sorts of activities, the 7000 sq ft Lichfield town centre (Cross Keys) base will be dedicated to specialist sales and daily valuations.

The additional salerooms will mean that alongside extra specialist sales, Winterton can still reap the rewards of house clearances and dedicate greater space to goods such as electrical, televisions, fridge-freezers and three-piece suites.

For Richard and Jan, Fradley is a familiar location. They constructed salerooms there years ago but had left the site.

"We originally built them - and then HS2, the high-speed rail line, was coming right through the middle of it. It was going to be bulldozed but the train track route has moved 1000m away," said Richard. "The premises are now empty, but we were offered it back. It took us 30 seconds to say 'yes please'.

"We're taking a lot more space on - it's a huge building."

Fradley was built in 1987, as a livestock and fine art auction venue, but has been empty for some time.

Lots of work needs to be done, but Winterton hopes it will be up and running by November once construction is complete and wifi properly installed.

He added: "When we left there were three salerooms, which was only part of the building. Now we are taking on the whole of the front of the building and making another two saleroom/viewing rooms. We are also planning to convert the old livestock selling ring into an auction room next year.

"We are also installing large kitchens up there so we have started work to make this into up-to-date catering with a conference room.

"We were looking to expand but nothing even remotely suitable until Fradley was offered to us again."

Destination Site

Along the same train of thought as Tennants' recent Garden Rooms extension, he wants Fradley to be a 'destination' with 'open-house viewing' attracting more regular visitors who can pop in for a coffee, cake and a peek at what's on offer.

Right now, the auction house hold a monthly three-day sale but those five extra salerooms give scope to change the calendar. The three-day selections will be absorbed into a wider range of weekly sales.

"We will keep this Lichfield saleroom in the centre of town for quarterly specialist sales because it's perfect for that," Winterton adds.

He says they are very keen on the vintage, jewellery and handbags markets, with maybe three or four sales a year, while also building on solid specialist fields such as coins, banknotes and militaria.

Competitive Region

All this expansion underlines the auction battleground the Midlands has become, and competition for consignments is likely to be hot.

With an eye on this, another part of the Richard Winterton project involves valuations.

They plan to open the Lichfield site daily for these and "expand the network of valuation centres to encompass further venues across Staffordshire, Derbyshire and the West Midlands".

The Winterton family name has been involved in the auction world since 1864 and Richard says he is determined to keep their presence in Lichfield.

The next generation is learning the ropes - son Tom, 23, is involved, in furniture and house clearances. When the Fradley site opens, his role could increase substantially.