Wartime sea captain’s model locomotive is sold for £16k
A 7ft 3in-long live steam model believed to have been built by a wartime Merchant Navy captain on board ship was the joint top seller in a Dreweatts’ transport sale on March 1 with a hammer price of £16,000.
The 7¼in gauge model was of 2-8-0 No. 1893, one of the US Army Transportation Corps S160 class, of which more than 2000 were built during the Second World War by three manufacturers, the American Locomotive Co, and Baldwin and Lima locomotive works. Eight hundred were shipped to the UK, the first arriving in November 1942 for heavy freight work by the Big Four, and also in Europe.
Research by Newbury-based Dreweatts indicated that the model was built by a Captain Saul, who was a Merchant Navy captain with the Cunard Line during the war, in command of a ship that transported one of the S160 class prototypes across the Atlantic to the UK.
The model, numbered 1893 and which was built by Lima in 1943, incorporates such features as a silver-soldered copper boiler, lever-operated firebox doors, a chain-operated whistle and polished brightwork motion.
It is finished in blue and black livery with brass boiler bands, detailed rivet work, and sliding windows.
In 1964 it was purchased by AB Macleod, who ran the Southern Railway’s operations on the Isle of Wight from 1928-34 and was a model train enthusiast, and the model now carries his name. After subsequently passing through several hands it was bought in 1986 by the late Keith Barnes, who steamed it regularly in Holland, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland, as well as the UK.
A number of S160 class engines avoided the cutter’s torch and survive on UK heritage lines, including Nos. 3278, 5197 and 6046 on the Churnet Valley, No. 1631 at the Great Central (Nottingham), No. 2253 on the Dartmouth Steam Railway, and No. 5820 at the Keighley & Worth Valley. These six survivors represent all three of the class’s manufacturers.
The model’s hammer price of £16,000 was matched by another live steam 7¼in gauge model, of a Garratt 2-6-2+2-6-2 numbered four, named Gordon Too, and completed in 2017 to a freelance design .The catalogue’s notes on this locomotive stated that the one-off design had distinct leanings to the Garratts that the model-maker watched in his youth in central Africa.
Of the model’s number and name, the catalogue explained that it was the fourth 7¼in gauge model the builder had produced, while four consecutive generations of his immediate family had Gordon in their names.
In addition, the catalogue further explained that it was in blue livery similar to the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway, adding: “The great Rev Awdry had No. 4 as ‘Gordon, the big blue engine,’ so this had to be Gordon as well (Too), or the grandchildren would have rebelled!”
Other realisations included £13,500 for LNWR Claughton class 4-6-0 No. 1131 Lord Faber in 7¼in gauge and £12,000 for exhibition standard 5in gauge BR Class 9F 2-10-0 No. 92220 Evening Star. Prices exclude buyer’ premium of 25% (+ VAT).
➜ See Geoff Courtney’s railwayana column in next month’s issue of Heritage Railway for full details of the auction.