Express & Star

Fascinating records detailing history of region's stunning estates in need of new home

Archives which provide a fascinating glimpse into the history of property in the West Midlands have been brought to light.

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The Woodlands, Penn in 1920

Now the team at Berriman Eaton, which has offices in Bridgnorth, Tettenhall, Wombourne and Kidderminster, are looking for a body which might consider rehoming the historic records.

Hundreds of books – old Walker Barnett and Hill auction catalogue archives – are housed at the Tettenhall office.

And Berriman Eaton partner, Caroline Eaton, said: “They are an amazing record – all bound in year books of the local housing stock covering decades of sales with wonderful pictures.

Document for the sale of The Woodlands, Penn, in 1920
The Woodlands, Penn in 1920
Bickford Grange in Penkridge
Sandford Hall in Claverley, 1959

“It’s a snapshot of Wolverhampton, the Black Country and Shropshire’s passion for housing and the stunning estates within the region.

“Anyone with historical interest in housing patterns and desires will be fascinated by these and they show what a great investment property has been and will remain.

“We are a country that loves our homes and, as a business, we would like for there to be public place to access to them.”

David Berriman and Caroline Eaton outside the office in Tettenhall

David Berriman has reached a milestone of 60 years as a valuer, auctioneer and estate agent this year, selling thousands of homes across the West Midlands and Shropshire.

As an unrivalled property expert, he has seen some extraordinary properties and collected some fascinating archive material.

“I started work as an articled pupil in 1953 with Walker Barnett and Hill who were an old established firm of auctioneers and estate agents started by Randle Walker in 1780.

The Albrighton Hall Estate goes up for sale in 1923
Wrottesley Hall, near Perton, for sale in 1964
The Shrewsbury Arms pub up for sale in Albrighton

“I sold ‘under the candle’ which was the way auctions were conducted at that time. A candle was stuck in a bowl of water and when it reached the water and spluttered out, the bid in hand at that time was the winning bid.

“Having once tried to replicate this I can tell you it is not time efficient!

“We altered the system and stuck a ladies hat-pin in the side of the candle. As the candle burned down the wax was softened and everyone went quiet waiting for the hat-pin to drop which it did and made a loud noise as it landed on the tray. In fact this is the origins of ‘it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop’.”

1918, and Ackleton Manor goes up for sale in Shropshire
1918, and Boscobel Manor, what we know as English Heritage's Boscobel House, goes up for sale
Boscobel Manor

He added: “In a time when mortgages were scarce, selling land and property by auction was a more common method and we held monthly events with numerous lots.

“Many splendid properties were sold under our hammer and we now have a fabulous original collection, in bound year catalogues of sales, dating back to the 18th century, together with bidding books recording the prices realised.”

The first sale David went to was in January 1953 at the Victoria Hotel in Wolverhampton when there were seven lots.

“In the next sale, a property in Lansdowne Avenue, Codsall was sold for £4,000. We resold it recently at Berriman Eaton for over an 18,000 per cent increase!

The Westacre Estate, Compton
The Westacre Estate, Compton
The Westacre Estate, Compton

“The first house I bought was a cottage in Pattingham which cost £2,750 in 1957 and which I sold again for the then owner a few years ago and was surprised to find my commission at one per cent was more than I had paid for it some 50 years ago.

“The Wrottesly Estate, The Wergs Estate, The Kilsall Estate, Sandford Hall, Claverley, Boscobel Manor Estate, Albrighton Hall Estate and many more have come under our hammer. The most expensive Lot I sold was for Wolverhampton Council, which made a little over £2 million and is now part of the Pendeford housing development.

“This collection of is more than 100 years old and records many of the financial and social changes which have occurred in our towns and villages which are an invaluable piece of history. I do hope a fitting home can be found.”

Anyone who can support Berriman Eaton by finding a home for the archives is asked to email