Antique travellers vans go under the hammer at auction in Yorkshire

A lifetime's collecting goes under the hammer in Yorkshire this weekend - including a Romany bow-top caravan.

George Charlton by the Romany van and one of the living vans going under the hammer
George Charlton by the Romany van and one of the living vans going under the hammer

Bernard Blashill collected hundreds of items, everything from threshing machines to gypsy caravans, tools and tractors.

Now, nearly a decade after his death, an auction is being held on behalf of his widow Mary, which could raise tens of thousands of pounds.

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With his wife, Mr Blashill raised tens of thousands of pounds over more than 20 years for local charities like Dove House Hospice, in Hull, and the village church of St Mary’s.

Nephews of Bernard Blashill: Mark Brankley, Ronnie Grantham, Gary Grantham and Rob Brankley

The largest of their charity events was the heritage weekend in October at their home, Moat Farm, in Welwick, where an exhibition of his steam engines, threshing machines, tractors and vintage cars, as well as an auction, drew more than 1,000 visitors from far afield.

“It is likely to be a very sociable occasion. There’s people coming from all over Yorkshire and Lincolnshire,” said auctioneer Ralph Ward.

One of the star attractions is a one-off pick-up truck containing a fairground organ that the retired farmer used to take all over the county for everything from Christmas fairs to plough festivals.

Some of Bernard Blashill's collection

Another of the lots, a Victorian horse-drawn milk float, was restored by Mr Blashill, who as a youngster did the milk round in Withernsea, where his father Walter kept a few cows.

There’s also a traditional bow-top, late 20th century Romany caravan, which has also been restored and could fetch £2,000 to £3,000, and a showman’s living van, of the type that would have been seen at Hull Fair between the two World Wars.

A third van, going up for sale, was likely to have provided a roof for the itinerant crew of a road roller.

Around a century old, the two "living" vans have been partially restored and need more work after nearly a decade’s storage.

The collection contains antique farm machinery

They will fetch only a “few thousand” each, because of the need for repairs, says auctioneer Ralph Ward.

“These days people put them behind traction engines to go to shows – it gives them somewhere to get out of the elements,” he said.

“There’s a bit of interest too in them for B&B and for glamping.”

Other lots include everything from a diesel road roller to a horse drag and the Welwick Council dust cart.

Mr Blashill’s friend George Charlton, 91, who was having a look round at the weekend, can tell you exactly what’s what among the obsolete gear.

He actually operated threshing machines, of the type up for sale, for three seasons from 1949-1951, as part of an 11-man team, at a farm near Paull.

Another of the antique pieces of equipment is a belt-driven Clayton & Shuttleworth Choppy Cutter, at least 150 years old, which, Mr Charlton said, chopped barley and oat straw for animal feed.

“Bernard was always buying something, or building something or repairing something,” he said.

“One of his specialities was hooping wheels. He collected and collected and collected.”

Nephew Mark Brankley said: “He was a village character and a big fundraiser.

“He worked hard for the community and over the years made a lot of people very welcome at heritage events in the village.”

Auctioneer Mr Ward added: “His hobby was wheelwrighting and blacksmithing. He was one of the last people who knew how to make a wheel.

“These wooden wheels fall to pieces, they rot and you have to rebuild them. That was one of his hobbies.”

Viewing is at Moat Farm, Welwick, on Friday from 1pm to 3.30pm or from 9am on Saturday. The auction starts at 11am.