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Collectors were out in force for the two-day Trains Galore sale at Special Auction Services (15% buyer’s premium) in Newbury on December 13-14, when 99% of the 1374 lots got away to a total of £246,000. “There was a packed saleroom and furious online and commission bidding,” said auctioneer Hugo Marsh.

The first day was largely given over to the last tranche of a Swiss collection of 7000 smaller gauge locomotives and 14,000 diecast models which has been dispersed over the year. The day contributed £75,000 to the final total of £202,000.

The December stars, however, came from a variety of other sources and, coincidentally, included two c.1929 Märklin clockwork models of a No 329 Stephenson tank loco in Southern Railways green.

One was an O gauge model, the other a larger gauge 1.

Illustrated on this page, both are rarities and Marsh believed it was the first time examples like this had been offered at the same auction.

The smaller model, with only a few small chips and play wear, went comfortably above expectations at £1900 and the gauge 1 example, also with some chips and scratches, raced past its £6000-8000 estimate to sell at £15,000.

Best of the live-steam models were two coal-fired 5in gauge locos and tender, each selling a shade below estimate. One, a BR Standard Mogul made £4800, the other, a GWR City of Truro, made £4000.

The earlier mention of Southern Railways will make many readers think of the words Bus Replacement Service. A gas-fired live-steam 1in scale model of a c.1900 French double-deck steam bus filled the role at SAS.

It was built by the noted maker John Sargent from an old photograph – apparently the only record of this vehicle which ran on the French south coast – and sold on its £3000 top estimate.