Thousands of antique tools discovered in house of treasures

Just some of the tools collected by 88-year-old Roy Turnage – photograph courtesy Hansons London

Valuable antique planes – wrapped in a carrier bag – are among thousands of rare tools and a classic Wolseley car found at a house in Kent. The incredible single-owner collection of planes, chisels, rulers, saws, a lathe and more, amassed by a retired woodwork teacher over decades, has stunned antique valuers at auction firm, Hansons London.

They say keen collectors and people who work with wood will regard the rich array of tools as ‘important treasures’. The house was jam-packed with curious collectables and antiques including around 30 tools made by T Norris & Son, one of the most prestigious makers of hand tools in England in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Famed for the quality of their planes, the example found in a carrier bag is tipped to make a four-figure sum, in addition to a fine G Entwistle gunmetal chariot plane, estimated at £500-£700.

The collection, amassed over a lifetime by 88-year-old Roy Turnage, has been described as astonishing by Hansons London. Most of the items will be auctioned on 30 July; however, the collection is so vast and diverse that some lots will enter other Hansons Auctioneers’ sales. Roy’s acquisitions include more than 1,000 planes, hundreds of chisels and in excess of 200 saws, but his love of collectables goes a lot further. The team clearing his property discovered everything from Victorian street lamps to magnifying glasses. Every room, nook and cranny of the large house was crammed full of a multitude of eclectic objects.


G Entwistle gunmetal chariot plane found in a carrier bag – estimate £500-£700 – photograph courtesy Hansons London

A house move prompted by Roy’s diminished mobility meant the enormous collection, which also dominated the garage, attic and basement, had to be moved. Family and friends have rallied round to clear the property, but it’s been an enormous task.

Roy, who was born in Woolwich, London, in 1933 has always had a passion for collecting, and over the course of 60 years, he managed to acquire a high range of collectible objects. According to a family friend, he used to attend specialist auctions around the country and liked to buy the crème-de-la crème of high-quality tools - including makes such as Norris, Preston, Howkins, Stanley and Marples. He admired the craftsmanship and quality of handmade tools and also used them.

Some such examples are very rare and date back to the 1920s and '30s, or even earlier. In addition to the huge number of planes, there's also an amazing collection of chisels, distinctive saws and wonderful tool boxes. The team also uncovered a Holtzapffel Rose Engine lathe, which are extremely valuable.


Rare Norris No.28 plane – estimate £300-400 – photograph courtesy Hansons London

According to Chris Kirkham, Associate Director of Hansons London, this has been one of "the most astonishing house clearance projects I've ever been involved with. Roy is quite simply a phenomenal collector with an eye for quality." Some tools, such as the rare Norris plane and a distinctive Scottish-made plane, may even be worthy of a museum. The collection should excel at auction, and the tools alone could make in the region of £30,000.

“Other items set to go under the hammer include Japanese and oriental jewellery boxes and a Chippendale grandfather clock. People like Roy are fascinated by all things and we’re grateful to have the opportunity to catalogue the items, which have caught his eye over the years. He created a house of treasures.”

The Roy Turnage tools collection and Wolseley car will be offered on 30 July in Hansons London’s Fine Art, Antiques and Collectors Auction. For further information, see