With the right lighting, a dash of make-up and a pair of 10-inch heels, Marcus Atkinson could pass for Fiona Bruce hosting an episode of TV’s Antiques Roadshow. But while the popular presenter gets to swan about in country houses with a TV crew in close attendance, Atkinson is, when I meet him, standing in what looks like a cattle shed off a busy roundabout near Leominster, with some colleagues and a clipboard.
No matter; like Fiona, he too has a queue of antique lovers to deal with, although rather than bringing him an old trouser press or a teapot for valuation, they’ve actually arrived in their heirlooms and collectables.
Cedric Egby is one such antique lover. The 76-year-old former Electricity Board accountant has motored 20 miles from his home in Knighton in Wales at the wheel of his 1969 Series 2 Jaguar E-Type 4.2 convertible, ostensibly for a chat and a coffee with like-minded enthusiasts, but really to hear what Atkinson’s team think his Jag is worth.
“The E-Type is still the world’s most beautiful car,” he assures me, patting its bonnet. “This one was imported from the US in the 1990s when prices went loopy, and converted from left- to right-hand drive. I paid £38,000 for it seven years ago. It was a boyhood dream come true.”
The ‘cattle shed’ we’re standing in is actually one of the smart new buildings at Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers, a long-established business based in Leominster that holds regular auctions of everything from modern and classic cars, through plant machinery to antiques, horses, houses and fine wines. It’s the perfect base for Atkinson and his team from Hagerty, an insurer specialising in classic cars.