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Thomas Forrester - Corn Exchange Newbury Interview

Well-known auctioneer and BBC Bargain Hunter Thomas Forrester will host a terrific fundraising auction for Corn Exchange Newbury’s Old Library campaign this autumn. The antique expert will talk about his work as an auctioneer and his time on TV with Bargain Hunt and Antiques Road Trip, highlighting heartwarming tales of his foray into antiques and how he landed a spot on the beloved British show.

As well as his time on Bargain Hunt, Forrester’s long list of accolades also includes being Director of Special Auction Services in Newbury. Guests can expect Forrester to lend his valuable insight into the antiques market, sharing a look into what is currently selling and what is struggling. He will also delve into personal stories from his time working in antiques, including fascinating and one-of-a-kind items he has sold, as well as things he couldn’t shift!

All proceeds will be going towards the reopening of the historic Old Library in Newbury which will be a permanent home for the Corn Exchange’s creative participation work. This much-loved building will provide opportunities for all to take part in creative activities, benefiting more and more local people with the positive impact that engagement in the arts has. 

Guests can also get actively involved in the evening, with the chance to bring along a small antique or collectable. Audience members who have brought items will be drawn at random to go on stage and tell the audience what their item is and why they bought it, before Forrester provides a live valuation.

We caught up with Thomas to learn more.

Where did you career in antiques begin?
My very first job was at Phillips in Bath where I worked as a Porter.

How did you approach making a career out of the profession?
My career started via the traditional channels of gaining qualifications but there is nothing better than hands-on experience which is what I learnt on the job. In this industry you can have two careers – as a Specialist or as an Auctioneer– I am very lucky to combine both.

How did the TV work change your career?
I had had been working as an Auctioneer for a couple of years by 2000 and the BBC approached Phillips asking if they could film one of their auctions for Bargain Hunt. The sale they chose happened to be mine – so I bought a new suit ready for my big day on the rostrum! I only expected it to be a one-off appearance, but it was after this that the BBC asked me to become one of their experts for Bargain Hunt and then Flog Ita year later. Antiques Road Trip! came calling a little over 10 years after my first initial filming. 25 years on from the start of my TV career and I still love it. Fortunately, I am able tocombine the TV work with my busy role at Special Auction Services.

What can you tell me about your show at Corn Exchange Newbury?
The show will be an interactive experience where guests will hear about my career highlights, stories about interesting items I have sold and the people I have met plus how we make Bargain HuntI will then invite the audience who have bought items to be valued up on stage and there’ll be a live valuation where the participants will have the chance to tell the audience what they have bought in and why.

How important is it to you to be supporting the campaign for the reopening of the historic Old Library in Newbury?
The reopening of the Old Library would be a tremendous addition to the already thriving arts and culture scene withinNewbury. I have no doubt it would be used and appreciated by many members of the community both young and old and it’s a great space.

What is the biggest challenge when you are valuing items?
Managing people’s expectations can be the most challenging, because often they are bringing in sentimental heirlooms and they have high expectations of their value.

What has been the highlight of your career to date?
Gosh what a good question. There have been many highlights and I hope there will be many more great ones to come. But I have to say that my biggest highlight is the feedback and interaction I have with the contestants on Bargain Hunt as well as the buyers and sellers through every auction I have been involved in.

What keeps you inspired?
It’s a love of the job, the people, the type of work it is and that every day is different.

Why should anyone book the show in Newbury?
It will be funny, entertaining and informative and above all it’s a chance to be nosy and see which items people have bought along for valuation!

Thomas Forrester comes to Corn Exchange Newbury on Wednesday 11th September at 7pm. Tickets are available from

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