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With some exceptions, foreign countries tended not to name their locomotives and with only a finite UK number – about 5000 – in existence, the nameplates are the most sought after entries. The March 550-lot sale saw only seven casualties and totalled £381,712 – the biggest grossing auction for the company yet.

Top of the bill was the nameplate Ludlow Castle, originally carried by the GWR 4073 Class 4-6-0 5002 built at Swindon in 1926. Castle class locomotives were second only to Kings and this early example steamed away to £30,600. It was bought by a Southern English collector, underbid to £30,400 by a Mr Ludlow who fancied his namesake nameplate.

Next up was the Earl Kitchener of Khartoum nameplate carried by the GCR Class 1A 4-6-0, GCR 279, built in 1914. An Englishman living in America steamrollered the competition to bid a winning £16,100.

Other nameplates of note included Mercury, carried by a Britannia Class 4-6-2 Pacific 70020 built at Crewe, 1951. The plate was face-restored only and the ex-loco back retained its original bolts, all of which encouraged the collector to pay £15,600. The Royal Ulster Rifleman brought £16,100 and the Madresfield Court nameplate, 1912 – in totally ex-loco condition – that had twice been damaged in attacks by German aircraft, brought £15,000. Madresfield Court, near Great Malvern, was once the seat of the Earls of Beauchamp.

The market was not just strong for nameplates as an Edwardian platform-ticket machine proved. In full working order, this ornate and early cast-iron example from Barnstable Junction Station fetched £2700. It came with a small number of original unused platform tickets.

Posters accompanied the sale and two almost identical examples of Waterloo Station depicted the hustle and bustle of the station during and after the Second World War. The later example dating to 1947 depicted a phalanx of soldiers in dress uniform and marched to £2500 while an earlier poster, 1943, depicted the same scene but with the soldiers in battle uniform. It made £3000.

Sheffield Railwayana Auctions, Sheffield, March 10
Buyer’s premium: none