Estate agent and auctioneer Neville Blackwell dies aged 82
ESTATE agent and auctioneer Neville Blackwell died on Friday aged 82. A well-known character in March and throughout Fenland, Mr Blackwell had clocked up an amazing 67 years in the business and despite previously suffering a stroke was active right until
ESTATE agent and auctioneer Neville Blackwell died on Friday aged 82.
A well-known character in March and throughout Fenland, Mr Blackwell had clocked up an amazing 67 years in the business and despite previously suffering a stroke was active right until his death.
The night before he died Mr Blackwell was at a meeting of March Chamber of Commerce - he was president of the organisation from 1975-77 and had been involved since 1973.
Current president Gavin Philpot said: "It has come as a great shock and it is a very sad loss. He has been a member as long as I can remember and he has been on the committee for many years.
"As a businessman he always worked very hard to make sure that properties in the town were kept occupied. He was quite a character and liked good meetings and didn't like people waffling, he liked them to get straight to the point."
Mr Blackwell had already joined the well-established business of Collingwoods (founded in 1884 by Joseph Collingwood) when at the end of the Second World War he realised how close March was to London and saw the potential of sales to people who were looking to leave the capital.
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Auctions started in 1946 with Mr Blackwell auctioning items outside, some at the front of the former wheel public house. His auctions are still held every Wednesday in the Palace salerooms next to his office in Darthill Road.
Mr Blackwell who lived in Norwood Avenue, features in the Guinness Book of Records for selling the most expensive plot of agricultural land in Britain. He sold the land at Elm Road, March, at auction in 1973 for �12,000 an acre.
Mr Blackwell married his wife Flora in 1962 and the couple have four children Ann, Neville, John and Jane. Mrs Blackwell died in 2007.
In 1970 the couple and their children visited Hunstanton with the idea of buying a flat. Instead they bought a former hotel and made part of it into living accommodation for themselves and part into an office for selling properties. Auctions were also held there. Collingwoods once had offices in Chatteris, Wisbech and Whittlesey.
The couple's children all worked in the business at weekends until reaching the age of 18.
Mr Blackwell was a founder member of March Lions Club and was president in 1978 and a zone chairman. He became press officer and attended a meeting last Tuesday.
Fellow founder member Trevor Quince said: "He was a very likeable chap, a character and very generous. He will be greatly missed.
"He always joined in and I remember very well the time we wore huge top hats down to our stomachs and then had faces painted on our tummies. He was also our press officer and took the job very seriously."
• Collingwoods is open for business as usual.