Paul Laidlaw, who founded the firm in 2013, purchased the building prior to lockdown and its first auction was held last week (antiques, collectables and home interiors auction on February 4-5).
The building, now called The Temple Auction Rooms, on St Nicholas Street in Carlisle, is a former Salvation Army temple and can accommodate two salerooms, a mezzanine for a militaria museum and a research library, open-plan office space and a VIP room.
It will also house a café run by the Salvation Army (called Blood & Fire café after the Salvation Army motto).
Laidlaw said: “This is a beautiful period building, with original features and a parquet floor. As it was designed for congregations, it is ideal for salerooms. The footprint is perfect.
“I visited Peter Wilson’s red brick former school in Nantwich [now branded Wilson55] and that was our benchmark of a superb refurbishment of an historic building. We have to compare ourselves against retail spaces and we want to impress when people walk through the door.”
The location is just south of the city centre, close to a new county council head office.
Laidlaw added: “We are supporting the town centre by being here and it has great access for transport.”
The auction house wants to attract new and younger buyers who are interested in the “experience” and the “theatre of auctions” and Laidlaw believes the combination of the café, the venue and location will be a draw to get “bums on seats”. He added: “We are also focused on sustainability and have introduced recycled packaging.”
The building had been vacant for a number of years and Laidlaw spent the same amount of money refurbishing it as it cost to buy it. The opening was delayed due to lockdowns and the firm eventually began moving in over the Christmas break.
The firm has also hired two new people bringing its team to four full-time and four parttime staff. Kurt von Rugemer, who was previously at Silverwoods in Lancashire and James Thompson Auctioneers in Cumbria, joins as auctioneer and valuer.
Nathan Copland, previously working as a dealer with his family, joins as junior auctioneer and valuer.
Also recently, Dawsons Auctioneers in Berkshire moved into a new venue at Cordwallis Park in Maidenhead. The firm invested £500,000 in the 12,000 sq ft facility which is four times larger than its previous place with extensive storage, bespoke viewing rooms, an improved front of house and a dedicated live streaming room as well as free parking (ATG No 2523).