ONE of the oldest auction houses in the North of England now has its youngest ever director.

David Elstob, 32, has joined husband and wife Peter and Stephanie Robinson on the board of Thomas Watson’s in Northumberland Street, Darlington.

He joined the 177-year-old company in 2012 as business development manager and his promotion to director recognises the important contribution he has made in accelerating business growth and improving profitability.

Over the past five years, sale totals have risen by almost 50 per cent, with the last 12 months being the strongest to date.

Earlier this year, Mr Elstob became a Chartered Arts and Antiques Surveyor, as validated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) – a rare professional qualification that puts him firmly into the industry’s elite.

RICS members operating in this market are considered highly specialised and experienced practitioners and this distinction has greatly increased the number of professional valuations the company has been asked to undertake for insurance, probate or family division.

Mr Robinson said: “We are delighted to offer David the position of director. He is an integral part of our management team and will take on added responsibilities for the auction side of the business.

“David fits perfectly into the company’s ethos and his considerable skills and expertise will continue to ensure that the business goes from strength-to-strength.”

Thomas Watson’s has always been a family-run business – remaining there until 1950, when it was sold to the Robinson family who are still at the helm.

Mr Elstob began his career aged 16 when he left Staindrop School to work at Addisons of Barnard Castle where he learnt the day-to-day skills of valuing and selling antiques and, while working, enrolled on a distance learning course at the University of Central Lancashire to gain a master’s degree in antiques.

He was “honoured” to be offered the role of director at Watson’s and said: “It is also an exciting time to be moving the business forward in an industry that is experiencing huge changes.

“We have a very strong following in the region with many people attending the saleroom in person but the role of the internet means that our ‘live’ auctions are accessible to a global audience, ensuring maximum exposure and top results that otherwise would not be possible.”

Thomas Watson holds general antiques and collectables sales every two weeks, complemented by quarterly Fine Art Catalogue sales.

Lots include antiques, fine art, jewellery, furnishings and collectables and range in value from tens of pounds to pieces worth many thousands.