Collector hits the railway jackpot

Professor Eric Groves, left, and Neil Booth, right, with the sausage boards
Professor Eric Groves, left, and Neil Booth, right, with the sausage boards

By Cara Sulieman
SCOTTISH train signs caused a stir at a railway memorabilia auction, making over £17,500 for their owner.

Professor Eric Groves bought the Scottish signs, known as totems, for seven and sixpence each when he was a young boy.

And the top seller at the auction was the old Brucklay station sign, snapped up for a cool £9,200.

At 50p a pop, the totems cost Professor Groves a total of £3, but made a whopping £17,770 at auction.

The auction in Stafford featured a number of totems and other railway memorabilia from around the country including station signs, clocks and lamps.

Most the enamelled signs came from the Buchan line that ran from Aberdeen to Fraserburgh until 1965.

But it was the rare Brucklay signs and its companions from the Royal Deeside Line that attacted the crowds, with one collector travelling down from Aberdeen in order to snap up the collectables.

Professor Groves lived in Aberdeen as a child and bought the signs from a friend of his fathers who worked on the railways.

As well as selling these at auction, he has also donated a sign to the Royal Deeside Railway.

Neil Booth, founder and auctioneer at Railwayana UK, was surprised by the amount of money spent on the rare items.

He said: “The Brucklay sign has never been out for auction before so we expected it to sell for a lot, but I had no idea it would go this far.

“When I was conducting the auction I was stunned when the price kept going higher and higher.

“There were four people bidding and one was prepared to go up to £12,000 for the totem so it could have been a lot more.

“It was amazing.”

As well as big money, the aucion drew a big crowd, with people gathering to view and bid for the unsual signs.

Neil said: “It was the best turn out we’ve ever had. There were about 400 – 500 people. It was absolutely full to the brim.”

The only to sign of Professor Groves’ that failed to sell was Udny, but at the bargain price of 50p, he can afford to hang on to it.

With plans afoot to hold the first every Railway memorabilia auction in Scotland, Neil is urging people to look through their lofts and garages in case a similar gem in hidden away.


  1. hi i have a old railway sign. LNER any person who omits to shut and fasten this gate is liable to a penalty nor exceeding forty shillings 090. is it woth selling or to keep it many thanks, robert

    • Robert,
      these signs are fairly common and would normally sell in the region of £30-£50. This price is for an original sign but there are forgeries around.

  2. hello
    can anyone advise me please
    i have a badge that is said to have belonged to a conductor who wore it on his hat when the flying scotsman was taken to santa fe in 1969.
    can anyone tell me if this is worth anything and where would be the best place to do this
    thanks in advance

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