January 8, 2022 8.00 am

End of the line for Lincoln family business after 200 years

Ian Walter speaks candidly about his family’s firm

A family firm in Lincoln, passed down through generations over the course of two centuries, will come to an end after the current boss retires and his children pursue other careers.

JHWalter has been synonymous with land and property sales since 1790, when John Harrup Walter set up the business in Lincolnshire as an agricultural valuer.

It has since evolved into farm machinery auctions, land sales and then property as an auctioneer, establishing itself as one of Lincoln’s best-known firms.

Once Ian retires, JHWalter’s name will disappear from Lincoln forever. | Photo: Brown&Co JHWalter

It is now run by Ian Walter, who is the seventh generation in his family to run the business. He took over JHWalter following the sudden death of his father, but the business line ends with him due to the career paths of his children.

His son Ben is an accountant and daughter Eliza a jeweller, meaning they have gone in a new direction and will not take on the family business once Ian retires.

The company recently merged with agricultural business consultants Brown&Co in an exciting new venture, but the move will be tinged with sadness as the JHWalter name will eventually be removed from local business.

Ian Walter from JH Walter ran the Imp Auction on the night, which raised over £128k for charity. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Ian Walter said: “I’m kind of sad about it but strangely relieved that someone is not going to be faced with the expectations of taking it on. We only come this way once in life and you should do what you want to do, not have things forced upon you because of the accident of birth.

“I am delighted my son is an accountant and daughter a jeweller, they are doing what they wanted to do, not what was traditionally expected of them. I am very happy with their career choices.”

Ian Walter, Senior Partner at JHWalter. | Photo: Steve Smailes

JHWalter has operated from 1 Mint Lane in Lincoln for 40 years, ever since Ian bought and converted the building to make it the business’ home.

Recently, as part of the merger, some staff have moved over to Brown&Co’s Oakwood Road office, leaving just the residential and property auction teams to continue to work at Mint Lane.

Mr Walter himself fulfilled the family obligation to follow his father into the business, and much sooner than he expected.

“My father Colin Walter died aged 51 and my grandfather, aged 53. My father died on a Friday night and on the Monday morning I was at his desk, aged 23.

“It had been expected I would go into the family business. I did estate management at Reading University and after graduating, a year later my father died. He died suddenly of a heart attack, he smoked 40 cigarettes a day and did no exercise and worked hard with too much stress.

“My grandfather Jack Walter died from lung cancer but he had smoked 90 cigarettes a day.

“It was a case of coming home and joining the business or giving it up forever.

“In a sense my father primed me from an early age, I used to accompany my father on jobs, I attended farm machinery auctions as my father was an auctioneer.

“Auctioneering is in the blood, I come from a long line of auctioneers, my forebears were all auctioneers.”

He was asked how he feels in the knowledge that this is the end for the JHWalter name in Lincoln, to which he replied: “I understand the name will disappear but I hope the DNA of JHWalter will be implanted in Brown&Co, that’s my legacy.”

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