The former air traffic control tower on the Wainfleet bombing range is one of the quirkier properties that have been sold by William H Brown in its long history.
Then there was the former life boat station at Skegness, the converted churches, barns and agricultural buildings, but no haunted houses that Jamie Forman knows about.
“People always ask about haunted houses,” says Jamie, area director of William H Brown which celebrates its 125th anniversary this year.
The company, one of the oldest firms established in Lincolnshire, has a network of over 110 branches including Spalding, Long Sutton, Boston, Sleaford, Skegness, Grantham and Lincoln in Lincolnshire, as well as offices in Yorkshire, East Anglia, the Midlands and the Home Counties.
Jamie has worked for the company for 30 years, and spent time in a number of different offices, so has a broad knowledge of the business’s activities.
He said Lincolnshire in particular is quite diverse, with different parts of the county having a unique appeal to different buyers. For instance, people in the Home Counties tend to want to retire to the south of the county, whereas Midlanders are attracted to areas of the coast.
What is still true of the county as a whole though, says Jamie, is: “Lincolnshire is perceived to be really good value in comparison to other areas of the country, and it’s a lovely place to live. Probably the general pace of life is a little bit slower than some areas. It’s still a popular county to relocate to.”
While the business has grown from its humble beginnings in 1890, when it offered auctions and a valuation service from a hut on a stackyard in Ruskington, William H Brown stays true to a part of its original heritage. The firm continues to offer an auctions service from its two auction centres, one in East Anglia and one in the North of England.
There have been changes, of course, such as the general increase in prices across the county and the growth of the rental market.
Jamie said: “The rental market is very strong and we have lettings offices in Spalding, Boston, King’s Lynn, Peterborough, Sleaford and Grantham. That’s been a large part of our growth. We have grown our lettings quite quickly in the patch really. That’s been quite a change we have seen in our business, but also more rental businesses have set up over the course of that period as well.”
What has stayed the same is the business’s commitment to a quality service.
Divisional managing director Simon Arnes said: “The 125th anniversary signifies an important achievement for William H Brown, its employees and our customers. It speaks volumes about the value of our expertise and experience in the property industry and the talent and good service at the heart of our company. We are proud and excited to celebrate this milestone year, looking back on our incredible heritage and accomplishments and towards a prosperous future.”
Different offices have arranged their own celebrations, such as the vintage tea party held at Long Sutton, when staff in fancy dress offered cake and drinks to customers, and the party is set to continue for the rest of the year!