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Abergavenny Castle was a Castle Class locomotive built at the Swindon works for the Great Western Railway in 1932. A working life pulling express passenger trains, mostly in Wales, ended in 1964 but the nameplate, right, was bought by a man living near the Swindon works for £15 – a price that included carriage paid by BR.

It returned to the market for the first time since 1964 at a sale held in Rugby on November 22 by Vectis (15 per cent buyer’s premium). It was offered by the wife of the original purchaser and sold for £27,000.

Two weeks later a veritable festival of railway memorabilia was staged by the specialist firm Sheffield Railwayana Auctions (no buyer’s premium) on December 6. The whole world of steam was recreated here – lamps, emblems, clocks, ticket machines, No Trespassing signs, cutlery, even a GWR chamber pot – but loco nameplates were supreme.

The curved plate from another GWR Castle Class engine, Lockheed Hudson, sold for £35,000. This came from an engine that started life as Penrice Castle, being renamed during the war and going on to steam more than a million miles before ending up in the breaker’s yard in 1964.

However, the name which really caught the imagination in Sheffield was Cock o’ the North. This appeared on a classic straight plate, 7ft (2.13m) long, which the catalogue rated as being among the top 10 nameplates of all time. It came from an engine built in Doncaster in 1934 to tackle the tough Edinburgh to Aberdeen route, and which finally returned to Doncaster to be cut up in 1960. The cataloguer’s opinion was confirmed when bidding reached £54,000. This level has been achieved only once before when Sir William A Stanier FRS was sold by the same auctioneers in 2002.