Collectors hit gold at Olympic auction in Wednesbury

From a gigantic model piano played by Gary Barlow during the London Games to a steam iron that was used in the Olympic village – collectors travelled in their droves to get their hands on treasures from the sporting extravaganza.

Hundreds of collectors and traders flocked to the Black Country for the first of two huge auctions selling memorabilia, equipment and furniture from last year’s Olympic Games.

BCF Furniture Outlet’s 66,000sq ft warehouse, in Bull Lane, Wednesbury, was packed out from 11am yesterday as people arrived to put in their bids for the gems on offer.

And the most interest was reserved for the memorabilia sale where props used by Take That during the games’ lavish closing ceremony were up for grabs.

The lots were bought up by businessmen Phil Nicholls and Kevin Scott, both of Wolverhampton, who said they had wanted to ensure the items stayed in the UK.

Mr Scott, a film industry specialist, said: “It is surprising how many of these items may have ended up overseas such as in the United States.

“We wanted to make sure they remained in the UK. The games took place in London and it was a once-in-a-lifetime event. These items are now a part of our heritage.

“They will be staying in the UK and staying in the Black Country.”

His business partner Mr Nicholls, a property developer from Bilston, said his wife Debbie and daughter Phoebe were massive Take That fans and would be delighted with the purchases.

“Our main aim was to get the keyboard which Gary Barlow played during the ceremony. However, we decided to invest in some of the other items as well.”

The keyboard sold for just short of four figures after a short bidding war ensued with another buyer eager to get his hands on the iconic prop.

Alongside the keyboard they purchased large pocket watch props and two drums used by the band not only at the Olympics but also during their 2011 Progress Tour.

They also bought a model grandfather clock, a copper jug in the style of Alice in Wonderland and a kettle drum that were all used in the closing ceremony.

The businessmen were not the only ones to pick up a slice of Olympic history at the auction.

Grandfather-of-three James May, of West Bromwich, was the first person to bid on any of the lots – a steam iron from the Olympic Village which he bought for £4.

Mr May, aged 69, of Marsh Lane, also picked up hard hat, emblazoned with the Olympic logo, for £2 and a pack containing posters and other memorabilia for £1.

But he was most pleased to get his hands on a London 2012 banner after successfully putting in a £2 bid for the item. He said: “My grandchildren asked me to come along and get some items as they were unable to get here themselves.

“They especially wanted the banner so I am pleased that lot came along and I was successful.”

Other items of memorabilia, including a selection of banners used during the Suffragette segment of the Olympic opening ceremony, did not sell yesterday and were due to go under the hammer again today.

Some bunting and flags used during the sporting event were also held over to go back under the hammer.

More than 70 lorries were needed to transfer all the items, a combined total of 3,000 lots, to the warehouse in Wednesbury.

A lot of interest was generated in equipment from the games with desk fans and safes, used by athletes to protect their personal possessions, selling well during the course of the day. The safes sold for prices of between £12 and £30.

The sale was organised by BCF Furniture Outlet, which is run by 59-year-old businessman Jim Cassidy, from Bloxwich.

Mr Cassidy purchased the items to go up for auction after being contacted by a friend.

The auction continued today and another event will be held on February 27 and 28 to sell off the remaining lots.