ONE OF Hexham's 'Crown Jewel' buildings was sold at auction yesterday for just under half a million pounds.
The Old Grammar School on Hallgate fetched its reserve price of £430,000 in the London sale.
Auctioneers Lambert Smith Hampton said the 16th Century building was sold to “a private individual” – though no further details of the buyer were being revealed last night.
The elegant white-fronted building, which currently houses Northumberland County Council’s west area planning officials, had been on the open market for 19 months without selling.
Three other Hexham properties – Prospect House, Hexham House and the Old Swimming Pool – were also put on the market as the county council sought to cash in on its assets.
Now the other three properties could also go under the hammer.
Frank Jordan, Head of Commercial and Property Services at Northumberland County Council, said: “We were pleased to get what we set as the reserve price for the property.
“This is the first time we’ve done this and while we may consider doing it again, there is no guarantee we’ll do this for other properties in the area.”
Anna Silkstone, Lambert Smith Hampton marketing officer, said: “The Old Grammar School was sold to a private individual through a telephone bid. That indicates the buyer may have come from the North East area, although we cannot give any details.”
The detached two-storey building, with a 15-place car park, was described by LSH as suitable for residential or holiday let conversion use.
Founded by Royal Charter in 1599, it became a grammar school in 1684.
Last night Hexham Lib Dem councillor Derek Kennedy welcomed the sale.
Coun Kennedy said: “I look forward to the buyer improving this property, and giving it some tender loving care.
“I will be interested to learn who the buyer is and what is going to happen to the Old Grammar School. It will require some work done.
“But it is a lovely building and I am pleased it is not going to stand idle.”
Staff in the planning department which occupied the Old Grammar School will now move into Hadrian House at Gilesgate, on the western side of the town centre.