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Cold War collection sold for £80,000


A large collection of aviation and militaria items, including the cockpit of a Canberra TT.18, raised around £80,000 when it went under the hammer on a Worcestershire farm recently.

Bidders from around the world were attracted to the auction at Rowley Farm, Holt Heath, near Worcester as John Hancocks, 85, and his wife Pat, 83, said goodbye to his beloved collection, which he had amassed over 30 years. The auction was conducted by Shrewsbury-based fine art auctioneers Halls.

It was a fascination with militaria and aeroplanes, which began as a child in Birmingham during the Second World War when the city was targeted by German bombers, that fuelled John’s amazing private collection, which he kept in the barns on his former dairy farm. As the collection had been viewed by invitation only, few people were aware of its existence until the auction.

John assembled thousands of items including his pride and joy, the Canberra TT.18 cockpit, which was in remarkable condition complete with flying log books. The cockpit was purchased in the auction for £8,600 by the trustees of the Avro Heritage Museum at Woodford, and will now take pride of place in the museum.

Top selling lot was a Rolls-Royce Griffon Mark 58 V12 engine from an Avro Shackleton surveillance aircraft, which sold for £14,500 to Julian and Roy Millington from Millington Racing Engines, Bridgnorth, who now plan to restore it to working condition.

Two Rolls Royce Pegasus 103 engines from a Harrier GR.3 – one complete and the other in 2,200 carefully listed pieces, sold for £2,400 and £700 respectively while an Alvis Leonides 127 engine made £1,300, a Rolls-Royce Viper engine made £950 and a Rolls-Royce Derwent sold for £800.

Other leading prices were £2,000 for a Harrier ejection seat, £1,550 for a World War Two paratroopers bicycle, £1,650 for an Avro Vulcan ejector seat, £1,200 for a Hawker P.1127 ejection seat, £1,100 for a World War Two aerial supply/weapons container, £1,050 each for a Canberra ejector seat and a mannequin wearing the 1944-’46 Airborne Division uniform.

Adorning one of the walls, from the time when cattle were still being milked there, was a 1939 Watts fixed-pitch two blade propeller from an early Hurricane, which sold for £1,550. John once joked with a dairy inspector that the propeller was there for ventilation.

Another building housed a collection of ‘home front antiques’, comprising kitchen and household items used during wartime, including an original radio and a Morrison table shelter, which John vividly remembers using during air raids. Over the past 20 years, John and Pat welcomed a variety of clubs to view the collection and raised £4,000 for the West Midlands Air Ambulance in donations. They are now in the process of selling their farm to enjoy their retirement in a neighbouring village.

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