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Why this man bought a derelict Norfolk mill at auction for £380,000

PUBLISHED: 08:08 29 May 2019 | UPDATED: 14:07 29 May 2019

Brother and sister; Iain and Lauren Gwynn. Pic: Iain Gwynn.

Brother and sister; Iain and Lauren Gwynn. Pic: Iain Gwynn.

The business owner who bought a dilapidated old mill for £130,000 over the £250,000 guide price said: "I've never bid at an auction before.'

Iain Gwynn sells spare parts for motorbikes like this at Draganfly Motorcycles. Pic: submitted.Iain Gwynn sells spare parts for motorbikes like this at Draganfly Motorcycles. Pic: submitted.

Iain Gwynn, who runs Draganfly Motorcycles in Bungay, selling parts for vintage motorbikes, went along to the auction in Norwich last month - and came away as the owner of Earsham Mill. He'd gone along to the sale with his parents with the intention of buying the property, for sale for a guide price of £250,000 but got involved in a bidding war which saw the hammer come down £130,000 later.

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Earsham Mill, pictured in 1964. Pic: Archant.Earsham Mill, pictured in 1964. Pic: Archant.

"The auction was incredible, I felt like a 12-year-old boy, my dad said; 'don't be the first person to start bidding.' Half way through the bididng, he said to me, 'now start' but I'd already started. My heart was pounding and my legs were like jelly and after I bought it, people were coming up to me to say congratulations."

Iain, 36, has big plans for the large property which offers 36,500 sqft of industrial and retail space. He's initially going to offer up some of the more modern warehouse space which is intact for businesses to use as storage while doing up the main Victorian building with the view to relocate his motorbike business there. Such is the state of the former mill, which was rebuilt in 1902, that he thinks it's going to take him at least a year to 18 months to get it ship-shape.

"Already a children's fitness charity has come and looked at some of the space and is interested in running a boxing club. The work needed ranges from some areas which just need a coat of paint to others where you can look up and see through to the sky."

The former Earsham Mill, which sold for £380,000 at auction. Pic: Auction House.The former Earsham Mill, which sold for £380,000 at auction. Pic: Auction House.

He reckons there are around 20 business units available and isn't fazed on the project. In fact the fmaily own Blows Self Storage, situated behind Draganfly, so have knowledge in this business.

"My sister Lauren and I grew up in a converted barn, my parents renovated a farm in the 1970s and our business is in an old maltings so we know about working with old buildings."

Iain recently took over the motorbike business, started by his dad Roger Gwynn, 65, in 1976 in London, which relocated to Bungay in 1984. But he's now got Roger out of retirement hoping to get some help on the relocation project. "Draganfly is in the middle of Bungay and there just isn't any space to expand. We've grown the business over the years and vintage motorbikes are hugely in demand, they're very in vogue and we supply all the spare parts for them."

Earsham Mill has a long history which saw it trebling its capacity to 1000 tons a week in 1975 following its investment and in 1982 it was put up for sale for offers in excess of £100,000. Ancillary buildings were also built on the site and in 1962 it changed from being a flour mill to creating animal feed and most recently it traded as a builders merchant.

The Earsham Mill building, which was for sale for a guide price of £250,000 but which sold for £380,000 at auction. Pic: Auction HouseThe Earsham Mill building, which was for sale for a guide price of £250,000 but which sold for £380,000 at auction. Pic: Auction House

The Auction House sale took place at Dunston Hall Hotel last month.

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