Auctions have been around for hundreds of years offering vendors of all different types of goods a fast and simple way to obtain cash for their goods and an opportunity for buyers to pickup a bargain on second hand items.

The word auction derives from the Latin word "auctum", meaning to grow or increase. Traditional English auctions are run by an auctioneer, who starts with an opening offer price, and then proceeds to increase the price at the indication of willing bidders. Once a price is reached and no further bids are received, the auctioneer will close the sale, usually signified by the striking of a hammer, also known as a gavel.

Under the banners of W&H Peacock, Locke & England and Southams we can offer customers a wide variety of auction types and content ranging from machinery to artwork, electronics to furniture and everything in between!

Interested in our history? Then find out more on our about page.

If you are looking to sell, visit our simple walkthrough for Vendors.

Perhaps you are a buyer, then start with the Buyer's guide.


The good Fun

It’s said that when you buy at auction you can run the whole gamut of emotions in less than 30 seconds! There’s the excitement of the hunt and the joy of finding just what you are looking for. The chase and the challenge of the bidding, taking on an audacious adversary who tries to make off with your precious find. But an auction is more than that. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, and the delight and exhilaration of triumphantly carrying home your cherished prize is hard to match. Is it any wonder then that at our auction houses we sell an average of 5,000 lots every week and attract a loyal and growing attendance from across the whole of the UK. Walking into an auction room for the first time can be a daunting experience; you are surrounded by hordes of people who all seem to know more than you. Don’t be put off and don’t think that you’ll be spotted “doing it wrong”.

There are however a few basic rules. Always view the lots before you bid. Remember caveat emptor (buyer beware), the onus is on you to discover if a lot is faulty. When you hear the auctioneer read out the number and description of the lot you want to buy, it’s time to act! Signal your interest by raising your hand and, once the auctioneer knows you’re interested, they’ll look in your direction if the bid goes against you and they’ll keep returning to you until you show that you’ve reached your limit. Be brave, be confident. But decide before you start bidding the maximum amount that you want to pay and make sure you stick to your limit, unlike the gentleman who visited the Bedford auction centre to purchase a bicycle for his daughter and got so carried away that he went home with a pink Cadillac!


The great finds

It’s amazing what our valuers find in the most unlikely places. A while back we were asked to clear a property – a fairly routine instruction for W&H Peacock. We always check lofts and cellars as you never know what to expect. But in the garden stood a woodshed, and hidden amongst the garden paraphernalia was an interesting looking marble head, a mere 9 inches high. When our expert examined the bust it was found to be Roman and dated back to the 1st Century AD. It was put up for auction, sold for £2,600 and we had another very happy customer. We won’t ever forget the chest of drawers which shyly revealed a secret compartment containing several hundred pounds in cash. We uncover some great things during off-site valuations too. There was the penny farthing bicycle, found hidden behind a pile of old boxes and a 1934 Austin 7 discovered in a pigsty.


the growing Future

Auctions are changing with the increased use of the internet. Nowadays a number of our auctions are held ‘live’ with buyers being able to bid online just as though they were sitting in the saleroom, but from the comfort of their home or even the beach! These auctions are accessed via our website, allowing the remote buyer to see an image and description of the lot and hear the auctioneer selling. The variety of goods sold has also increased and as well as selling antiques, collectables, furniture, and other effects we now regularly auction plant and machinery, cars, vans, lorries, catering equipment as well as the whole range of modern domestic appliances and modern IT equipment. In addition we now hold regular specialist auctions including jewellery, sporting guns, 20th century design and collectable toys. So why not drop us a visit or to get a further ‘taste’ of what is on sale this week visit our auction calendar.