Want to own a baggage carousel? Contents of Heathrow Terminal 1 auctioned off

Want to own your own passport control desk? How about a baggage carousel for your home?Now flight fans can gra...

Posted: Apr 19, 2018 2:37 PM
Updated: Apr 19, 2018 2:37 PM

Want to own your own passport control desk? How about a baggage carousel for your home?

Now flight fans can grab a slice of travel history as the contents of a disused London airport terminal are being sold off.

Heathrow's Terminal 1 was a major transport hub during the advent of the Jet Age, but this icon of global travel has been disused since 2015.

As preparation for its regeneration gets underway, an auction of fixtures and fittings is taking place at London Heathrow Terminal 5 on April 21, followed by an opportunity to bid online.

Aviation history

Terminal 1 was opened in 1968 by Queen Elizabeth II -- and at its peak, over nine million passengers a year passed through the terminal's gates

It hasn't been used for three years, but all the usual features of an airport -- baggage carousels, security equipment and arrival and departure signs -- are still there.

The initial sale, aimed more at aviation enthusiasts -- will offer memorabilia, such as the classic illuminated signs and plastic seating that kit out a terminal.

Subsequent auctions will focus on the bigger assets including travelators and baggage carousels.

Art and auction expert expert Ivan Macquiston, who is advising sellers CA Global Partners (CAGP) on the auction, says it's an unpredecented move.

"I've been involved in this business some 20 years really [...] and I'd say it is certainly one of the most unusual sales I've ever come across," he tells CNN Travel.

CAGP's involvement isn't surprising -- it's handled other big commercial projects, including the sale of the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.

But auctioning off the entire contents of an airport terminal is another ball game.

Iconic assets

With bidding underway, some items are already attracting attention.

"The departure signs are getting a lot of bids, as are the arrival signs, the departure signs are slightly more popular, which is interesting," says Macquisten.

He thinks owners of bars, restaurants and clubs will be among the main buyers, suggesting businesses could use the airport arrival and departure signs instead of the traditional fixtures.

He predicts interior designers will also be reaching for their wallets.

"I think it's all to do with the sort of retro iconic appeal," he says.

There's also artwork on offer, namely a series of enamel murals by the Polish artist Stefan Knapp, which were especially commissioned for the terminal.

Some items are less aesthetically pleasing, but still generating interest.

"Last time I looked, we had I think over 24 or 25 bids on a recycling bin," says Macquiston. "What's the price of that?

"There are no estimates on anything, because it's so unprecedented, it's very difficult to value," he adds.

While all the items are currently at Heathrow, they will be delivered to buyers.

"[CAGP] offer what they call a turnkey service which means if you bought a baggage carousel, they'll have guys who will take it to pieces, store it and transfer it to wherever you want to put it," explains Macquisten.

The auctioneers expect bigger assets, such as the travelators, to be snapped up by other airports.

Everything's up for grabs -- but if you want to buy security equipment, be prepared for lots of checks first.

"Any sort of software or screening programs Heathrow would have used would have been removed,"Macquisten adds. "So there'll be none of that.

"And that stuff would have to be sold only by private treaty and anyone who wants to buy that has to be vetted thoroughly."

Novelty value

But what will happen to abandoned Terminal 1?

Heathrow won't comment on its future -- aside from specifying that the auction is part of an ongoing airport improvement process. It says it no longer owns the assets being sold off.

So how much money will the auction make?

"I can't tell you what the value of the bids are," says Macquiston. "It's a bit like when you buy a house and everyone does sealed bids and they don't know everyone else is bidding."

Even if the outcome is hard to predict, Macquiston is expecting the sale to generate big money.

"I'd be surprised if it didn't make a decent six figure sum. Could be a lot more than that. It's difficult to say."

The auction will be held in the Aviation Suite at the Thistle London Heathrow Terminal 5 Hotel, Bath Road, London from 11 a.m. on April 21.

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