Waterman train sale hits £627,000
Pete Waterman swapped music tracks for railway tracks and hailed his model train auction as "fantastic" with a sale total of more than £600,000.
The pop producer's 56 finest scratch-built model trains from his collection - seen as the Faberge Eggs of the model locomotives world and worth £1 million - went on sale in Mayfair, central London, and 32 of them were sold for over half a million pounds.
The sale fetched a total of £627,229, including buyers premium, with bidding on the remaining 24 models failing to reach the reserve price and they were therefore not sold - but post-sale offers are continuing to come in.
Two of the models sold for £124,000 each, while another went for £86,800.
One of the £124,000 models was the Beyer Goods, which Waterman said was ''the greatest steam railway engine built in miniature''.
Asked how he felt the auction went, Waterman said: "Fantastic. The engines all realised what I wanted. I had a figure in my mind. We're certainly not far off that figure."
Alongside his music career, the 68-year-old hitmaker has also carved out a role for himself in the world of train modelling and railway preservation over the past 50 years.
As the world's leading collector and patron of modellers, he decided to sell what amounts to around a tenth of his collection in order to raise enough money to secure the future of Waterman Railway Heritage Trust, which holds his collection of full-size steam engines, housed at sites around the country.
The remaining 90% of his collection is of almost incalculable value and will never be sold, making this a unique opportunity to acquire objects of this calibre, and Waterman sees them primarily as works of art.
Specialist auctioneers Dreweatts conducted the sale on the premises at Mallett of Dover Street in Mayfair.
Before the auction, Waterman said he has full-size steam engines that are in need of repair which is "not a cheap thing to do".
The hitmaker said he is "getting old" and he is using this opportunity to raise the profile of apprenticeships and training.
"Something like this will employ four apprentices for four years," he said.
Waterman said the model engines take years to build and everything is handmade.
He predicted that there would be interest in the auction from "all over the world", adding: "People want these for investments. These are better than having a million in the bank."
The music producer said he was born next to a railway line and his first job in 1962 was on a railway.
He said he left school unable to read and write and got a job on the railway because people noticed how "passionate" he was about it.
"My passion actually got me over my educational problems and I learned very early that if you form a great team you can make a job work," he said.
Speaking about the extent of his interest even today, Waterman said: "There is not one minute I'm not playing trains."
But asked to choose between trains and music, he said: "It has to be music, because without the music I wouldn't have had these wonderful things. I wouldn't have steam engines.
"And if I'd have worked on the railway, as much as I'm passionate about it, I wouldn't have had the life I've had.
"And I wouldn't have had the fun I've had."
Waterman has been collecting for 56 years, starting at the age of 11 when he paid around £8 - twice the going rate - for a rare engine that had gone out of production 20 years earlier.
''I sold it about five years later for £30 and that's what got me started,'' he said.
He funded that first purchase with money saved from his paper round - a guinea a week - and the five bob he would get fetching coal in his sister's pram.
Another source of income was the flying choir, a venture he launched when he realised he had a good singing voice and could earn 10/6 from three weddings at different churches across Coventry each Saturday.
Speaking about the reason his love affair with trains started so early, he said: ''When you live in a council house and these things go past your door, it's your first encounter with beauty.
''There were people sitting with white tablecloths and table lamps having dinner.
''It was magical. Think of the contrast: we didn't even have glass in the windows at home.''