Q & A with Nigel Ingram

I first met Nigel Ingram in 1988 when I was the director of marketing for Garrett Electronics. We were looking for a new distributor in the UK and scheduled a lengthy trip there to meet with the various candidates. I can’t remember exactly where Nigel was in the sequence but after meeting him I knew he and Regton, Ltd. were the perfect fit. It was a great choice in that he’s still Garrett’s UK distributor almost 30 years later (every once in a while I do get something right). 

Now having said all this I have to warn you that Nigel has a unique way of putting his thoughts on paper (yeah I know, who the hell am I to criticize). I started adding periods, commas, etc. but finally said “the hell with it” …. so good luck, you are on your own.

If you are ever in the UK and in the Birmingham area be sure to stop in at Regton’s and say hi. You might also remind Nigel he’s owes me $20….

NIGEL INGRAM – Q & A

 

Nigel we are old friends but for the purpose of this Q&A session allow me please to play the stranger part….

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Q. I know you live in the UK but can you narrow down where?

A. I live approx. 20 miles from Birmingham (where Regton Ltd is located). For those outside UK, Birmingham is not only in Alabama but also central England which makes us ideally located for anyone in the UK to visit us.

 

Q. Can I be a little personal and ask what it is you do for a living?

A. You can indeed. I, together with my brother and sister run  a metal detecting shop called Regton, Ltd. based in central England.

Regton Ltd., 82 Cliveland Street, Birmingham (be sure to take the virtual tour on the website)

 

Q. Can you tell us a little about Regton’s history? i.e., when did you open your doors and what is it you sell.

A. After leaving College 1979 I was motorcycle dispatch riding for around 18 months (much to my parents dismay). I survived that and then found myself a ‘proper job’ as a technician at Industrial Research Laboratories, working in metallurgy, concrete testing & non-destructive testing including specialist tie location in reinforced concrete. For that job I used my experience with detectors & sourced a suitable model with a very small coil that did the job well.

Two years at the Laboratory & I’m getting itchy feet once more. I needed to start my own business but what type of business? My passions in life at that time were metal detecting & windsurfing and the mental coin toss came up detecting side. The embryo was starting to form during evenings & weekends where I could be found making trowels & digging tools for the detecting hobby. I later progressed to making coil covers for all the popular models at that time & the light bulb moment occurred. I need one of those computer things! 

My catalogue & price list followed shortly after as did a trailer tent (for rallies) so that I could display my wares & demonstrate the new-fangled ‘motion detectors’ that were starting to appear. All this at the age of 22 (spotty face & all) …. made my job really hard to convince the old school detectorists why motion machines were the way forward & that despite my age (I’d already got 13 years of practical detecting under my belt) I really did have something useful to say about them.

Fast forward to today & Regton employs 14 people. We’re Garrett & XP distributors for the UK & Ireland, but also have a good working relationship with White’s, C-Scope, Viking, Tesoro/Laser, Makro & Nokta.  We also stock all the very best accessories & books related to the hobby (including all of your books Dick).

The Regton team, at home and on the road (XP Rally 2016)

 

Q. I know you are married to a great gal named Jackie? How did you two meet and does she detect as well?

A. Indeed Jackie & I met in a bar (as you do). I was with a bunch of guys who went to the gym twice a week taking it in turn who was driving & therefore the others would get plastered & annoy the hell out of the driver all evening. We met through an old school friend and in my drunken state I remember she mentioned she liked dogs (I had a border collie), she was into horses, hey I can do horses if it helps…. Oh & I go detecting, what’s all that about then ?

If any of you have seen the ‘Detectorists’ on BBC, it’s a detecting sitcom set in England. Just picture the lead guy who’s a really geeky detectorist asking his girlfriend if she wants to come to the club meeting this evening as they are having a guest speaker giving a talk about buttons, her response is similar to Jackie’s response. I have tried a few times since but apparently watching a horse dry is more interesting.

Nigel & Jackie

 

Q. Okay, let’s get on with Nigel Ingram the treasure hunter. What was it that got you interested in metal detecting?

A. My father started detecting back in the 60’s with homemade detectors both BFO & TR types, they were awful BUT they were the best we had at the time. As a child I received very basic pocket-money but was also reminded that my detector can top that up really fast if I put the time & effort in, parks, drained lakes, toboggan hills, fair sites were all I needed to supplement my meagre donation from Dad, by the time I was old enough to smoke (14) I needed to fuel that horrible habit, luckily alcohol just tasted horrible & girls were still just a pain in the backside (oh how times change). So in short detecting was my savior, a means to an end & I was richer than my mates, job done.

 

Q. About what time did you start and what was your very first metal detector?

A. The ripe old age of 9 years old was my first introduction to detectors. To put things into perspective I can remember quizzing my father about the small switches & also the rivets, so what do rivets change ? So very young…… I remember being taken into a park & shown the right speed of sweep, height of coil and what setting to use, also how to keep it all in tune, did I take any notice? Like hell I did, flat-out across the park pendulum swinging away & got bored quickly, a little more tuition & that magic moment we all remember…….. a pull tab, the first of many more to come, and then a coin, not any old coin but a coin I could spend.  I was hooked. I had no choice in what machine I used as I was offered different versions of machines on a weekly basis. Some were home-made & then the first commercially available detector I used was a C-Scope IB100 circa 1976.

Early photo of Nigel’s dad Derek and Nigel, the budding treasure hunter

 

Q. What was your very first signal/find? Do you remember?

A. Our arch-enemy the ringpull or pulltab

 

Q. What was your very first good or decent find, as in keeper.

A. That would have been my first ‘spendable’ coin also, a ‘two bob’ two shillings or in decimal 10p, I even remember the date as I had a roasting for spending it on sweets, a 1919 coin which at that date was solid silver but in my young mind it was valid & legal tender. I only found out after the event that the coin was worth at least 10+ times that as scrap. Lesson learnt but those sweets were good.

A few full, half and quartered Medieval hammered coins from Nigel’s collection…

 

Q. In the beginning where did you concentrate your detecting time? What areas?

A. I was limited to parks as my only form of motive power was a bicycle, at 16 I now had an engine attached, my Fizzie (Yamaha) & I were to be seen all over the area with either a skate board or a detector, sometimes both bungeed to the rear carrier. At this point I was invited by another detectorist to a local field that had Roman occupation in the past and all I can say is that those Romans drank lots of coke, ate too many sweets & smoked themselves to death – second lesson learnt, fields adjacent to major roads are also full of junk. Most of my detecting was done in a 10 mile radius of home or beach detecting whilst on holiday in Anglesey, a little island off N.Wales.

 

Q. How long did it take you to find your first silver coin and do you remember what it was?

A. I’ve already mentioned that so I’ll change that question to gold if I may…. it was a Victorian half sovereign, I still have it somewhere but can’t remember the date however I do know that it was once part of a ring or necklace as you can see the four marks around circumference.

A couple more of Nigel’s finds. Top: Half Gold Guinea. Bottom: Gold Medieval Noble

 

Q. How long did it take you to find your first ring and what type of ring was it?

A. First ring was a wedding ring for a chap called Melvyn.  He’d lost it in a local wood. Can’t remember anything more but my reward was a wetsuit that was way too big for me & a huge box of sweets. At 11 years old I was thrilled at owning my own wetsuit (useless that it was).  I was photographed for a local paper, my headphones were bigger than my head and school chums also found it made a great dartboard in our classroom.

Not Melvyn’s ring but one of my better ring finds….gold with diamonds

 

Q. Did you spend a lot of time researching initially and if so how did you go about it?

A. You know I really don’t remember researching very much at all in the early days. Same as homework, it was a chore.  The best we had in those days was the Encyclopedia Britannica which for those who don’t know it is the equivalent of the internet but in book form.  All 15 volumes.

 

Q. What would you consider to be your best find after so far?

A. A Roman bronze coin (Magnentius 350-353 AD) that had been made into a brooch during Medieval times & then silver washed.

 

Q. Okay what is your weirdest find to date?

A. An oil drillers boring head, found three of these tungsten tipped monstrosities in the middle of a field, farmer couldn’t explain how, what or why they may have been there.

 

Q. What is your “oldest” find to date?

A. I was tempted but no it wasn’t you Dick, that would just be rude, it was a Bronze Age pot leg, so just pipped you there.

The “older than Dick Stout” Bronze pot leg. Roman to 1700

 

Q. What detector are you using at the moment and why?

A. I’m currently using two machines, a Garrett AT Max International fitted with a NEL Tornado coil, this is my beach & water machine, not that I do beaches very often. I also like to use different machines as & when they come onto the market . My other machine which I’ve now had for 8 years is the XP Deus, with a selection of coils. I have one of the very first units V1.0 software which is now running V4.1 Beta… XP updates are free via the internet so the machine is morphing as time goes on without having to sell & buy again each software upgrade.

 

Q. Can you share a favorite setting or two? A tip?

A. I use the AT Max in all metal mode as I’ve found it gives even better depth that straight motion discrim modes.  Add the iron audio & it’s easy to ID the small ferrous targets, on beaches it’s best too.  On the Deus my preferred programs are very simple to understand…detecting is my hobby & shouldn’t be a chore. I use two-tone with low very low & high very high, keep discrim down to around 5, two programs set up this way based on default P3 (for recovery speed amongst iron) & P5.  P5 is often overlooked by users but it’s a very deep program especially on larger targets.

 

Q. When you do go detecting what accessories do you use?

A. A probe, a probe my kingdom for a probe, how the hell did we manage all those years without? spades I find useful also. You can detect if you forget your probe but your spade is a must have accessory so priority goes to my spade.

 

Q. How often do you get out detecting today?

A. That depends on weather, crop rotation, time off work, how many jobs are on ‘the list’ & whether I can get away with it.

 

Q. You surely have a bucket list. Care to share it?

A. I have filled many buckets with horseshoes, plough (plow) tips, oh that sort of bucket list ?  Yes Staffordshire Hoard 2 has my name on it although it may be Warwickshire Hoard 1, who knows? I really would like to find a Saxon coin, our area seems devoid of them, either that or I need to swing lower & slower so maybe Dad was right all along.

Still looking for that hoard…

 

Q. What would your ideal detector look like?

A. That’s a loaded question, my knee jerk reaction is that it doesn’t matter what it looks like however, it should be light, simple to operate but have hidden options for those who wish to delve into the inner sanctums of technology, pull tab, coke & huge lumps of iron should be identifiable (reliably) with no loss of good targets, wireless is the future, did I mention it should also have the ability to make a nice cup of tea?

 

Q. If you could pass along one or two words of advice to other detectorists, what would they be?

A. The grass isn’t greener on the other side of the hill, the new XYZ isn’t necessarily better than your ZYX. Learn to use your detector correctly, don’t presume some guy on YT knows what they are on about, ask a variety of people to gather a census of opinion, not all dealers are out to relieve you of every penny you have, build a relationship with whoever you use, they may be salesmen but most are also detectorists with a reputation to protect.

Nigel, doing what he loves (actually he would rather be drinking beer but detecting is a close second)….thanks my friend!

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Nigel and I having a liquid conversation, Rockwall, Texas 2015

 

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13 Comments

Filed under Metal Detecting

13 responses to “Q & A with Nigel Ingram

  1. Great interview Nigel, but I’d love to know how precisely, you managed to get Stouty to part with twenty Bucks.

    Regards to all at Cleveland Street and keep eye out for the wizened primate earwigging on conversations!

  2. DougF

    Hey, Dick, thanks for the Q&A. I look forward to them, good to read about others’ experiences in this hobby.

  3. Hi John, to answer your question regarding ‘that $20″ you know I really can’t even remember borrowing it in the first place, now that can be down to age (clearly not in my case) or else convenient memory loss maybe the answer ?

  4. Excellent interview Dick. Nigel is a top-notch treasure hunter after my own heart and his wide in-depth experience shows it! And how cool is it to own your own metal detecting company? Very!

  5. MalR

    My partner bought me a Garrett 250 for my birthday earlier this year there was a coin in the box (not marked on the list of what is in the box) is there a reason for it ie regulating the machine etc.

    • Hello MalR, if it’s a shiny gold looking coin, you should see mention of Anaconda Treasures (ATC) they are sponsored by Garrett, it’s just a token they use at rallies nothing more.

  6. Bigtony

    Great interview – best of luck with your bucket list too! So now I think I understand but could be wrong – it’s about depth in England fields hoping for a deep old coin or treasure hoard. So the deepest beep and dig machine will do. If it’s beeps and it’s deep – then start digging….your burning daylight! Cool, I like it…..

    • Hello Bigtony, get ready for that big spanner about to thrown into the works.

      Despite logic & what is often discussed in the detecting world, in Europe we have proven that depth is not always what finds the goodies. A lot of our ancient coins & targets are very small & thin, we would all like more depth however it’s often at the expense of sensitivity to small targets and the extra depth doesn’t outweigh this disadvantage, also on high habitation sites we have an abundance of ferrous objects (the more bad ferrous corresponds with more good non-ferrous targets) therefore we have learnt that a faster recovery speed unit works to our advantage.

      First discovered 25-30 yrs ago that some gold prospecting units ‘could’ work very well in these conditions as they were typically higher frequency & fitted with smaller 2D type coils, whilst they lacked depth the proof was in the pudding or rather in your finds pouch. I see style of machine now being used your side of the pond, I guess when you’ve worked out those good sites you’ll try anything to get some more, those who have tried already know the answer. Apply logic to detecting & it will often trip up the unwary.

  7. Coin25

    Nigel, sorry for getting back to you this late, had my hands filled with grandkids and they are a real joy. Thanks for the reply, I don’t mind small targets at all and find them all of the time here in local parks. I use an Explorer II and it isn’t fast at all – slow is the mode of the day but in iron I really understand what you are going through. Here too in the parks I can’t understand why there are so many nails and iron bits scattered about….just crazy…did folks carry them around in thier pockets? I doubt it…but they are all over. A faster recovery speed will assist to some point but for me learning the sounds and displays helps plenty.
    Best of luck.

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