The hangar was used by the famous aircraft manufacturer Avro in the First World War and is believed to be just over 100 years old. It got away for a low-estimate hammer price of £100,000 in the May 17-18 auction held in Cirencester.
Auctioneer Henry Meadows said: “It came from an aviation historian who is a longstanding customer of ours. He bought it quite a few years ago and then it was removed and taken down to Oxfordshire and it has been in containers ready to go.”
The 67ft (20.1m) wide x 44ft (13.2m) deep x 18ft (5.4m) high hangar was bought by an agent bidding on behalf of a client, possibly for a project, although no further details are known.
It is not listed but of immense aviation historic significance. The structure is thought to have come across from the US during 1917 when the US entered the First World War.
That same year the hangar was constructed at a government air park which was set up at Alexandra Park five miles south-east of Manchester.
Avro the pioneer
Alliott Verdon Roe, the earliest of Britain’s aeronautical designer, constructor, pilot and aircraft factory pioneers, built some of his machines during 1908 and onwards on the ground floor of his brother's mill in Manchester. AV Roe and Company was established on January 1, 1910, by Alliott and his brother Humphrey Verdon Roe.
Before the First World War he had successfully developed the Avro 504, which went on to have a production run of over 10,000 machines throughout 1914-18 and up until the early 1930s.
During the conflict, the British government set up ‘Aircraft Acceptance Parks’ (AAPs) throughout the country. One such AAP was this facility established at Alexandra Park during 1917. It was used primarily by Avro to ship in sub-structures, build up Avro 504s, flight test and formally hand over the finished product to the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service (joined together as the Royal Air Force in 1918).
With the ending of the war Avro remained at Alexander Park constructing and repairing aircraft and starting embryo commercial flying activities until 1924.
It is known that Roe took three Bessaneau hangars and much more from Alexandra Park. Those three hangars - one of which immediately collapsed - plus this green steel hangar were erected at the newly established Woodford airfield in Cheshire during 1924.
The latter remained on site until taken down by contractors the vendor employed in 2017.
Another stand-out lot at Dominic Winter was an 18th century Turkish miquelet long gun, which sold for £18,000 against an estimate of £2000-3000. ‘Miquelet’ refers to the firing mechanism, an early but sturdy form of the flintlock popular throughout the Ottoman Empire from the 17th into the early 20th centuries. It marks an important stage in firearms technology.
Such miquelet long guns at auction have made maybe half as much at auction for even the best pieces, so why did this onesell for what may be a record price for the type?
For a start, the 5ft 2in (1.58m) long overall gun was beautifully decorated, with the barrel featuring gold damascene work and the ivory stock heavily embellished with ‘jewels’ and micromosaic work. This ensured crossover appeal from both militaria and fine works of art collectors – and the significantly, given the impending tough trade restrictions, the ivory content certainly did not deter the high bids.
Also, this gun of museum quality (a similar one resides in the Metropolitan Museum of Art) was fresh to the market, having been consigned from a deceased estate where it had been for 30-50 years – the source contributed several Indo-Persian lots to the sale.
The Turkish origin had “a huge part to play’, added Meadows, but when it came to the crunch it is all about classic auction competition. “I can only imagine down to two parties who really wanted it -what a successful auction is really about." The underbidder in the room fought it out against a London phone bidder, with the latter victorious at a hefty price.
An early 19th century four-barrel flintlock pistol by Isaac Riviere, London, sold for £5000 (estimate £1200-1500) at the Dominic Winter auction. The flat walnut grip was inset with engraved silver family crest of the Bankes family of Winstanley Hall, Wigan. This pistol was “rare as hens’ teeth”, said Meadows.
A fine pair of 18th century Queen Anne silver mounted flintlock pistols by J Johnson of Wigan, also with a Bankes family crest, sold for £5100 (estimate £3000-4000).
They had been consigned by a collector.
Wide array on offer
The extensive Dominic Winter auction, offering motoring literature, automobilia and historic bicycles on day one and aviation, military and transport, medals and coins on day two, was “on the whole probably one of the best sales we have had for a long time. I think it was pushing over £320,000,” said Meadows.
The first section is held in conjunction with Peter Card’s Transport Collector Auctions.