Money for nothing? Heritage railway’s valuation day success

Ian Crowder
October 6, 2023

The doors of the Lifford Hall in Broadway were opened on Sunday 1 October for the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway’s (GWSR) first Railwayana Valuation Day, which starred Paul Atterbury, familiar to viewers of BBC-TV’s Antiques Roadshow.

  • GWSR day attracts owners of railway artifacts
  • “£50 or 60k worth of items” says auctioneer
  • TV antiques valuation expert and author Paul Atterbury values items
  • Event organised with GW Railwayana Auctions and Broadway Museum & Art Gallery

The event was organised in conjunction with Evesham-based railway auctioneer GW Railwayana Auctions (GWRA) and the Broadway Museum & Art Gallery, which is currently staging the award-winning GWSR railway exhibition ‘Journey through Steam’.

The day attracted some 150 owners of railway-related items including locomotive name and number plates, plans, station signs, railway watches, lamps and signalling equipment amongst many other artefacts, which were valued by Paul Atterbury and other experts.

Simon Turner, who runs GWRA, commented: “It was great fun to be involved in this day and there were some surprises. For example, an LMS ‘Jubilee’ nameplate appeared which had been purchased for just £15 from British Railways in the early 1960s. It was as it came off the locomotive and could fetch as much as £8,000 if it were auctioned.

“Similarly, there was a GWR Hall nameplate complete with its cabside number, which together could potentially fetch a five-figure sum.
“I would guess that some £60,000 worth of railway artifacts passed through the hall that day.”

He added that one of the most intriguing items was a small cast brass GWR plate of a type that in his nearly 30 years as an auctioneer, he had never seen. “With other experts present we finally concluded that it was probably off a Great Western Railway travelling safe.”

The event was the brainchild of railway historian Mike Dodd of the Restoration & Archiving Trust based at Toddington. It was organised by Anona van Lawick of the Broadway Museum & Art Gallery and Catherine Johnson, the GWSR’s marketing manager.

Anona van Lawick said: “I think everyone really enjoyed the day – it’s remarkable what people have on display in their homes or hidden in lofts, cupboards or even under the bed.

“Talking of which, one of the most fascinating items for me was a highly detailed survey of the Honeybourne to Cheltenham railway – on which part of the GWSR runs today. The owner’s father, who apparently once worked for British Rail, kept it under his bed! I was particularly interested to see the astonishing detail of Broadway Station as it once was.”

The survey, dated 1907, included precise mapping of stations, bridges, culverts, sidings and junctions and had been annotated over the years right up to sale of parcels of land by BR during the 1960s and 1970s and, according to auctioneer Simon Turner, could in an auction sell in the upper hundreds of pounds.

For the GWSR’s marketing manager, Catherine Johnson, an SR-style train headboard with the legend ‘Hogwarts Express’ was a favourite item. “When Warner Brothers were promoting the new Harry Potter films, they used rebuilt SR West Country pacific ‘Taw Valley’ which was painted red for the occasion and it carried this headboard. But the use of the engine was short-lived as they thought it looked ‘too modern’ so they famously used a Great Western ‘Hall’ class locomotive instead!

“You never know how days like this will turn out or what will appear. I loved every minute of it and chatting to the interesting people who came along, some of whom said they found items in skips or picked them up for next to nothing at car boot sales. It was a fun event and we are already talking about staging it again in a couple of years,” she added.