By John Ridgway
Our town is, if course, home to the hugely popular Severn Valley Railway and it is therefore not at all surprising that we see a good number of railway enthusiasts come through our doors in the middle of a rail trip to Bridgnorth.
But they are not the only people who buy railway memorabilia, we also get the occasional shopper AND often the die-hard expert in search of vintage railway items.
Railway memorabilia ranges from small items like tickets, photographs, postcards, posters, whistles and timetables to larger pieces such as name plates, signs and even signalling equipment, ticket machines and platform benches.
The list is extensive, the railway fans are also on the look-out for station notices, radios, lanterns and wall plaques, plus any books written by vintage rail experts and journals, and buttons and badges.
Station clocks are always snapped up buy rail enthusiasts, they look charming in any home and can often be found in working order.
Anything bearing a recognised ‘name’ will attract the collectors, from dining car menus, napkins, plates and even silverware - how did that find its way off the train?!
The nineteenth century was the golden age of the train, with rail companies springing up all over the country, and names of rail lines to look out for run into hundreds.
Enthusiasts will pay a good deal of money on nostalgic souvenirs of this era, several years ago a man in Torquay sold his vast collection of rail memorabilia for thousands of pounds.
Amongst pieces he had amassed were a brass plate for a steam engine, a cast iron and copper steam locomotive chimney pot, restaurant car cutlery, brass cap badges, signalmen's uniforms, a station master's oak desk, a brass whistle, brass locks for carriage doors, ticket collectors' punches, timetables and station signage.
Certain experts only collect items associated with a particular train, company or rail line and anything dating back to either of the two world wars will be especially of interest.
As with all antiques and collectables, always check condition before you buy but don’t be afraid of a little restoration work if it’s necessary, it will be worth the effort.
Happy antiques hunting!