Heritage Railway

South proves best as King Arthur and ‘ACE’ headboard top the charts


A SOUTHERN Railway King Arthur class nameplate and a BR(S) headboard were a winning combinatio­n in Great Central’s February 5 auction, the eleventh in the series of monthly 200-lot live online sales the company launched exactly a year previously.

The nameplate, which went for £9000, was from No. 30452 Sir Meliagranc­e, and the headboard was from the Waterloo to West of England ‘Atlantic Coast Express’, the most multi-portioned express in the country (£6800). The example that went under auctioneer Mike Soden’s hammer was the style carried by Bulleid Pacifics from the summer of 1953 until September 1964.

This was a train dubbed simply ‘ACE’ and I logged it at Basingstok­e, firstly on September 9, 1959, headed by No. 35026 Lamport & Holt Line on the Up working, and three days later No. 35020 Bibby Line on the Down train.

I also recorded no fewer than six portions of the express two years later at Exeter (St David’s) on a busy summer Saturday, August 12, 1961, headed by a variety of West Country and Battle of Britain locomotive­s comprising Nos. 34002 Salisbury, 34011 Tavistock, 34079 141 Squadron, 34081 92 Squadron (twice), and 34086 219 Squadron. All five were shedded at Exmouth Junction (72A) at the time, so several were ‘cops’ for this London-based spotter.

A second nameplate, Oxfordshir­e, from LNER D49 No. 62702, was sold for £5200, and another locomotive item made its mark when a cabside numberplat­e from GWR No. 5098 Clifford Castle fetched £3200. By then, however, signalling had got in on the act thanks to a GER Tyer’s No. 5 permissive tablet instrument for the Reedham JunctionBr­eydon Junction section of the Norwich-Lowestoft line realising £3900. The runner-up in this category was an LBSCR train describer identifyin­g such locations as London Bridge, Victoria and Norwood Junction (£2000).

Top worksplate at £2700 was a Gorton 1950 example (works

No. 1012) from EM1 class electric locomotive No. 26009, some way ahead of the leading steam contender, a Great Northern Railway Doncaster 1913 plate (works No. 1407) from J6 0-6-0 No. 64221 (£1000).

Inevitably station totem signs had their say, led by BR(W) Dovey Junction (£2700), supported by BR(M) Hathersage at £2500 and Western Region pair Sea Mills (£2300) and Shirley (£2100). Wagonplate­s had a decent day too, the winner being a Wheeler & Gregory of Radstock example whose works were beside the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway (£600). Prices exclude buyer’s premium of 15% (+ VAT).

“Very strong across all categories,” mused Mike as he pondered over the realisatio­ns after close of play. “The price for the ‘Atlantic Coast Express’ headboard was exceptiona­l, totems as good as ever, we had a number of new bidders, and only one lot was unsold.”

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