Veteran Harborough auctioneer talks about the 'phenomenal change' in auctioneering over the last four decades

A top Market Harborough auctioneer is celebrating bringing the hammer down on a staggering 40 years in the business.

By Red Williams
Monday, 16th March 2020, 9:06 am
Will, John and Mark Gilding
Will, John and Mark Gilding

John Gilding said he had seen a “phenomenal change” in auctioneering over the last four decades since setting up nationally-hailed Gildings Auctioneers.

The auction expert said the new cyber era has catapulted every sale at their Great Bowden Road base into a worldwide event.

But evergreen John said he still loved the “great atmosphere” generated at their home at The Mill in Harborough on auction days.

“Over the past 40 years we have seen the auction business undergo a phenomenal change,” he said.

“From an industry where all you need is pen and paper, to one where each auction has a global audience thanks to the internet.

“However, the fact that we can have up to 400 people registered to bid on one website alone in each sale hasn’t taken away from the great atmosphere our attendees create in the room on our sales days.”

Still running as a traditional family business, John said he’s had to move with the times and become expert at pinpointing critical market trends since launching in 1980.

He’s taken part in BBC shows such as Bargain Hunt and embraced the online bidding technology that has revolutionised the auctioneering industry.

John staged his first auction in March 1980.

He held sales on a ‘nomadic’ village hall basis in Newtown Linford, Foxton, Lubenham and Harborough until establishing a permanent base at 64 Roman Way, Market Harborough.

Fast-growing Gildings moved on again in 2012 to its current home at The Mill in Great Bowden Road.

John said customers are now seeking very different items and goods than back in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

“In a climate of older people downsizing and younger people struggling to get on the property ladder, it’s no longer the case that antique furniture makes good money,” he said.

“The art market can be hard work, too, with Victorian art and landscapes in particular falling out of popularity.

“These days people are interested in smaller items such as jewellery and watches or niche areas of collecting such as toys, memorabilia and even whisky.”

John took a step back from Gildings in 2015.

The current specialist team of valuers, which includes staff who have been with the company over 25 years, is led by his sons Mark and Will Gilding.

“Gildings remains very much a family business.

“My wife and I have just celebrated 52 years of marriage.

“And over the years all the big decisions for the business, including selling the family home to buy the Roman Way premises back in 1988, have been made by us as a team,” said John.

“We didn’t have any idea what our children would want to do for their careers.

“So we were lucky that two of our sons decided to pursue the family business as a career.”

Regular auctions at Gildings include Antiques & Collectors, Fine Arts & Antiques, 20th Century Art & Design and Toys, Model Railways & Memorabilia sales.

To find out more, including details of regular valuation days or how to view or bid on items, visit or call 01858 410 414.