Ian Walter: Gift of the gavel

Well-known Lincoln auctioneer Ian Walter has just boosted his already impressive CV – after bringing down the gavel on his most unusual job yet!

In addition to his wealth of experience in land and property matters, the senior partner at JHWalter is now also recognised as the man who auctioned the 25 colourful sculptures which formed the hugely popular Lincoln Barons’ Charter Trail this summer.

Bidders in the packed “saleroom”, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, went wild for the statues and left Ian extremely proud to have raised a staggering £167,000 for the national food bank charity The Trussell Trust.

The trail was one of the highlights of the 800th Anniversary Year of Magna Carta, but 2015 is also a milestone year for JHWalter, as it has seen the firm celebrate 225 years in business.

This feature interview was first published in issue 52 of the Lincolnshire Business weekly magazine, now available to read at www.lincsbusiness.co. Subscribe to the email newsletter to receive the latest edition in your inbox this Friday.


Ian joined the firm in 1978 when he was 23. He went into the office on a Monday morning after his father Colin had died on the previous Friday, aged 51.

The Barons’ Auction marked the latest charity sale conducted by the firm – Ian also auctioned 12 lots at the Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Dinner in Lincoln Cathedral this year, raising £30,000, and stonemasons’ sculptures created during the European Stone Festival, which took place on the Cathedral’s East Lawn in 2013 and raised £50,000.

He uses his most treasured gavel on such occasions and during the firm’s County Property Auctions.

“It was made especially for me and given as a gift by someone who had seen me conducting an auction. I was completely taken aback, but obviously delighted, although I’ve never seen that man again to this day!” said Ian.

So do you actually get a different kind of buzz auctioning Barons to when you are standing in a farmyard in the pouring rain selling tractors, combines or ploughs or rallying rival bidders to shell out good money for an unusual house or prime farm land?


Ian Walter, Senior Partner at JHWalter was born to be an auctioneer. Photo: Steve Smailes

Ian Walter, Senior Partner at JHWalter was born to be an auctioneer. Photo: Steve Smailes

Born for it

“I was born into a family of auctioneers and I am a seventh generation member of our family to be an auctioneer. We have been conducting sales in Lincolnshire since the 1790s, but I’ve certainly never sold anything like the Barons before. It was a unique experience,” said Ian.

“The sale certainly benefited from very good exposure. Many people were automatically sent catalogues and it was great to see the Lincoln Barons raise £167,000, when a concurrent auction of 25 other Barons in Salisbury raised £58,000.

“Before we started, I had no sense at all that they would go for up to £11,000. What I really expected was that the auction would make about £50,000 at the end of the day.

“There was a really good vibe and a fantastic atmosphere in the room as the auction got underway. Naturally, you try to make this sort of event fun. Charity auctions are all about engaging with people and it’s vital to establish an immediate rapport with potential bidders,” said Ian.

“There were a lot of friendly faces in the audience, but also many people I didn’t know. One genuine bidder particularly captured my attention because he kept bidding generously for several barons. I was rooting for him to clinch the last Baron, but he was unfortunately outbid.”

JHWalter sees itself as a key player in the local community. Ian conducts the charity auctions for free and sees them as a way of giving something back.

The full cover interview with Ian Walter is available to read in full here. For the latest dispatch of business news from across Lincolnshire delivered in your inbox every Friday, subscribe to the Lincolnshire Business magazine.