Collectables auctioned in memory of Fenland man

PUBLISHED: 13:20 25 September 2007 | UPDATED: 23:04 28 May 2010

At the auction

At the auction

Story by MAGGIE GIBSON SMALLHOLDER Eric Papworth loved browsing around sales, snapping up items that reminded him of life in the Fens in a bygone era. Collectables were restored to their former glory, filling every available space at his fen farm. He boug

Story by MAGGIE GIBSON

SMALLHOLDER Eric Papworth loved browsing around sales, snapping up items that reminded him of life in the Fens in a bygone era.

Collectables were restored to their former glory, filling every available space at his fen farm.

He bought hundreds of shotguns, air rifles and cross bows but never killed anything. Mr Papworth believed owning the guns was a good way of stopping others using them.

When he died aged 80 in May, villagers said goodbye to a true Fenman. Mr Papworth never married and his vast collections remained untouched until Sunday when they went under the hammer at a special sale in 800 lots.

Hundreds of buyers from all over the country and many local people who had known Mr Papworth congregated at Willow Farm, Cock Fen Road, Lakesend, to bid for the guns, farm implements and machinery, antique furniture, and collectables.

Close friend Sue Melton, who had known Mr Papworth since she was a toddler, helped prepare everything for the sale.

"He just loved to wheel and deal," she said. He would buy things and do them up so they looked like new.

"Eric took on the farm when his dad died and he never married. He was a man who when he collected things never wanted to get rid of anything. His main hobby was collecting the guns but he didn't shoot, I think he thought there would be less things shot if he owned them."

For the last 27 years Sue helped look after Mr Papworth. She said: "He always used to say he was a loner but he was a country person and a real Fenman. He was a character and someone you will never replace. It is nice that the things have gone to people who will look after them."

Auctioneer Stephen Roberts of Watton, Norfolk, said buyers had stayed at the sale all day.

He said: "It is the sort of sale, as far as I am concerned, that you don't get the opportunity to do very often. It will be several years, if ever, before another one like this comes up."

Many of the items made very good prices including the last thing to be sold, a rare Turner tractor which went for £9,100 to a collector.

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