Steam Age Memorabilia

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Loppylugs

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Having been brought up in the steam era, becoming a fireman at Reading (81D) depot in the early sixties, it now makes me wonder if there is still an interest in steam memorabilia amongst the younger generation. I own a GWR Hall nameplate along with it's cabside and smokebox plates. Graceful and nostalgic items to me but as we old steam men pop off this planet, will the interest live on?
 
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Mcr Warrior

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Might well be worthwhile creating a poll for this rather interesting question; although sadly, I think that the answer amongst the general population might be "No".
 

xotGD

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It's an interesting question.

As the pool of interested potential buyers shrinks, the prices paid for things such as steam loco name plates and number plates may start to go down.
 

StephenHunter

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It will likely move into heritage diesel and electric. As someone of that (relatively) younger generation, that's what I'm interested in.
 

DerekC

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I very much doubt that interest in steam trains amongst the general population will reduce, simply because new generations are being brought up on a diet of "Thomas the Tank" and heritage railways, which generally highlight steam as their principal attraction. I will probably get some moans for saying it, but diesel and electric trains are of limited interest to people outside the magic circle!
 

70014IronDuke

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I very much doubt that interest in steam trains amongst the general population will reduce, simply because new generations are being brought up on a diet of "Thomas the Tank" and heritage railways, which generally highlight steam as their principal attraction. I will probably get some moans for saying it, but diesel and electric trains are of limited interest to people outside the magic circle!
You will not just get "moans" - I predict you are absolutely wrong. Totally wrong. And I write this with regret.

Interest in steam has sunk dramatically with the end of steam traction on BR, and will sink further.

But you, I - we - have to define what you mean by 'interest' of course. Will lots of crowds turn up to "Thomas Days" on heritage railways? Yes, I hope they will, at least for a few more decades, and, with luck, for more. A child will always be fascinated by the 'chuff-chuff' of the steam locomotive. It's an example of power relatively easily understood - to a point.

But this is only superficial 'interest' in steam. It is nothing like experiencing, on an emotional basis, the day-to-day thrill of seeing and hearing pacifics (or 4-6-0s if you were on a poor benighted railway with copper capped chimneys substituing for proper express locomotives:)) roaring through your local station at 75-80 mph.

IT is nothing like watching the 2-6-2T (or 0-4-2T if on aforesaid benighted copper-capped railway) on the push-pull chuffing out of the bay platforms with a one-coach train on the local branch.

I realised this long, long ago - indeed, when main line steam was still the norm on some lines. In October 1964, we had the last A4 special on the ECML to Kings Cross. I remember asking my dad to take us over to see this, and, even though I was only 12 myself, I wanted a young lad, a year younger than me, to see this with his own eyes, because his interest in trains was new, and he'd never seen the ECML as I had, just three years earlier, with majority steam traction.

So, over we went, and on time, 60009 stormed through. I remember seeing the light from the firebox door in the cab, and brief shadows of the crew. And I knew a chapter of my life had been closed. I would never, ever see the same again. The lad (I forget his name now) was interested, but I could tell, it just didn't mean anything like the same to him as it did to me. He couldn't go back to memories because he had none. He had nothing like the emotional attachment to this than I had. OF course not, why should he?

I suppose it's like the Hurricane or Spitfire pilot watching students in 1950, or better still, in 1970, complaining or protesting against whatever. He'll be thinking: "My God, did I fly myself into life or death situations hour after hour, day after day for this? So you knobs like you can protest over <insignificant complaint vs Nazi occupation>?"

And to answer the OP - alas, not.

I bunked Reading shed for the first time around Easter, 1962. There were (I've lost my log book) from memory about 70 locos on shed - Castles, Halls, lots of 61xx, 43xx and 57xx and probably 28xx (but no Kings, no Counties and I don't think even a Grange or Manor). But there was a Schools on Reading Southern. (30911, Dover) - that's my hardest concrete memory of that Sunday morning!

For you, Lady Margaret Hall - or whatever you have - has a deep, emotional attachment: you lived with it - her, you smelled it - her, you kicked, slipped, hurt your head. burnt your hand on the firebox door, or whatever on it - her. This was not at a staged heritage event - this was your day-to-day experience: your life, and your livelihood.

Simon, or Tricia, or Tristran, born in 2015 and raised with the internet and mobile phone and ... all the rest - for them, it will never, it can never, be the same.

Even if some, 0.01% become hardenend enthusiasts, it can never be the same.
 

Loppylugs

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I bunked Reading shed for the first time around Easter, 1962. There were (I've lost my log book) from memory about 70 locos on shed - Castles, Halls, lots of 61xx, 43xx and 57xx and probably 28xx (but no Kings, no Counties and I don't think even a Grange or Manor). But there was a Schools on Reading Southern. (30911, Dover) - that's my hardest concrete memory of that Sunday morning!
I remember seeing you. Were you the scruffy little herbert in short trousers? The Kings were virtually finished by then and it was very rare to get a County on shed, but we did have Granges and Manors arrived for us to work the Redhill trains replacing 63xx.
 

70014IronDuke

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I remember seeing you. Were you the scruffy little herbert in short trousers? The Kings were virtually finished by then and it was very rare to get a County on shed, but we did have Granges and Manors arrived for us to work the Redhill trains replacing 63xx.

Not at all. I went to 81D in my Sunday best, proper long trousers for sure. It really impressed the shed foreman, and he let me round. As for your good self, I suspect you are one of those Johnny-cum-lately firemen, sorry to say, with very little proper training, having barely done any proper apprenticeship as a cleaner. Nor your fault, of course, just a fact of the age.
:)

In April 62 there may have been one or two Granges on Reading shed - I can't be sure without my logbook - but there were no Manors, that's for sure. They only appeared about a year later en mass, well, maybe five or six of them. And Kings were far from dead at that point, but they were largely deployed on the Pad -Snow Hill route. It didn't take long before the Westerns wiped them out, of course.

There were probably a couple of 9Fs on shed too, and maybe, just maybe, a 47xx. Difficult to remember exactly now.
 

Loppylugs

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Not at all. I went to 81D in my Sunday best, proper long trousers for sure. It really impressed the shed foreman, and he let me round. As for your good self, I suspect you are one of those Johnny-cum-lately firemen, sorry to say, with very little proper training, having barely done any proper apprenticeship as a cleaner. Nor your fault, of course, just a fact of the age.
:)

In April 62 there may have been one or two Granges on Reading shed - I can't be sure without my logbook - but there were no Manors, that's for sure. They only appeared about a year later en mass, well, maybe five or six of them. And Kings were far from dead at that point, but they were largely deployed on the Pad -Snow Hill route. It didn't take long before the Westerns wiped them out, of course.

There were probably a couple of 9Fs on shed too, and maybe, just maybe, a 47xx. Difficult to remember exactly now.
Indeed, only three months cleaning, a quick firing instruction course at Old Oak Common and then out with an established fireman for a fortnight. Started of course in the lowest link but often swapped turns with higher link firemen who were content for an easier life on shorter runs. We even had "passed" firemen who were only just turning thirty and often on driving turns.
Normally had four Castles allocated, mainly for working the Birkenhead passenger (originating from Margate I think) or standing as the down line pilot. Four Manors arrived in 1963 to work Redhill turns. Good old days !!!
 

47296lastduff

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Aston Hall name and number plates were reported as making £10,000 at a recent railwayana auction, so there is still significant interest amongst us oldies. Younger folk would likely prefer the diesel and electric stuff.
 

Journeyman

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Interesting questions raised here. I find steam interesting, for sure, but my only experience of it is in preservation, as I was born almost exactly 6 years after the Fifteen Guinea Special ran.

My earliest memory of the railway is the BR blue era of the late seventies and early 80s, and therefore that's always the era I'll remember most fondly. I'm interested in railway history, for sure, but a blue 37 or 50 will always set my pulse racing more than a steam engine, because I've never seen steam in its native environment. You now have to be quite well on in years to remember this properly, so I suspect demand for steam age railwayana will probably drop in years to come. I'll snap up any BR corporate image stuff, though.
 

Irascible

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Aston Hall name and number plates were reported as making £10,000 at a recent railwayana auction, so there is still significant interest amongst us oldies. Younger folk would likely prefer the diesel and electric stuff.
My first memories of steam were the GWS & Buckfastleigh ( so, ironically, any nostalgia would be for pre-BR if I was particularily nostalgic! ), but no way would I prefer diesel stuff - 1880s-1940s design fascinates me. I am not interested in railways for the same reason a lot are though, so I'm likely an outlier.
 

32475

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I've recently turned 60 so I can still just remember seeing and being hauled by steam. This means that one day I'll be in the 'last of the few' category. I've always been an enthusiastic collector of railwayana and particularly over the last 15 years or so. This is down to my age with a bit more spare cash to spend along with the desire to own objects from my youth; enamel station signs in particular, many of which I have bought at railwayana auctions which I love attending and relish being able to attend again sometime post-covid. One look around an auction room at fellow attendees speaks for itself - 95% grey haired of which I hasten to add that I am one and yet I'm one of the younger people there. Steam nameplates have always commanded the highest prices and are in the Premier League of collecting however in my experience these are becoming less sought after whilst items such as diesel makers plates and certain diesel or electric nameplates have risen in value considerably over the time that I have attended auctions.
My philosophy is that if and when I can afford it, I would rather invest in something which I can display on the wall and enjoy it for years to come. An example of this is my 32475 smokebox number plate; I am far too young to remember the actual locomotive but I've had no end of pleasure hunting for photographs of it (18 so far) and my model railway is going to feature it in Bachmann 00 gauge form.
Collecting and nostalgia have always gone hand in hand and they always will do. What we don't know is exactly which course they might take.
 

Journeyman

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Collecting and nostalgia have always gone hand in hand and they always will do. What we don't know is exactly which course they might take.
This is very true. I don't collect railwayana, but I love vintage tech, especially early home computers. I'm a particular fan of Sinclair products, and I have a working ZX81 and Spectrum with a bunch of accessories I could never afford when I was a kid (printers, disc drives etc). Until very recently most of this stuff was extremely cheap, with the exception of a couple of rarities, like the ZX80 and the original Sinclair (pre-Amstrad takeover) Spectrum 128. Now, even pretty common items are getting extremely expensive indeed, and if I ever chose to part with my collection, I'd make a decent profit. It's hard to work out why the value has increased so sharply recently - it could be that working examples are getting rarer. Thankfully I've had some of my stuff refurbished by an expert so it should keep going for a while.
 

70014IronDuke

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To get this thead back more on topic, the OP's first question was:

"Having been brought up in the steam era, becoming a fireman at Reading (81D) depot in the early sixties, it now makes me wonder if there is still an interest in steam memorabilia amongst the younger generation."

[The OP omitted the ? - but we can't expect perfection from a GWR man can we? :) ]
 

Loppylugs

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Gods Wonderful Railway. Need I say more. Actually I was born in Wimbledon and lived five floors up in a block of flats overlooking the SR main line. Bulleid Pacifics, Nelsons and King Arthurs. Blame my parents for moving !!
 

Ashley Hill

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The price of random steam plates has been falling for many years. Halls,Manors even Patriots and LNWR plates have dropped in price. What are considered premium plates Kings,Castles,Footballers,Brits and Bullieds for example still trade at a high price despite the increasing age of their collectors. Likewise many premium diesel plates sell for far more than random steam locos. Deltic's,Westerns and Peaks and even HST plates often make more than steam locos.
Totems have shot up in value in recent years,are youngsters now collecting enamel? Cosidering the last totems were removed in 1988 (Goxhill) how many new owners remember their purchase hanging on a lamppost.
Signalling,with the number of boxes rapidly declining has seen a surge of interest and prices at auctions. Is this the new in thing?
 

32475

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I just watched Scotland’s Scenic Railways on Channel 4 which was broadcast yesterday evening (28-3-21) and has a significant feature about collecting railwayana with Neil Booth of Railwayana Auctions UK Ltd. I suspect this may have been broadcast a year or two previously but nevertheless it highlights the value of collecting not to mention the age of the majority of collectors! It’s well worth watching if you get the chance to.
 

WesternLancer

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You will not just get "moans" - I predict you are absolutely wrong. Totally wrong. And I write this with regret.

Interest in steam has sunk dramatically with the end of steam traction on BR, and will sink further.

But you, I - we - have to define what you mean by 'interest' of course. Will lots of crowds turn up to "Thomas Days" on heritage railways? Yes, I hope they will, at least for a few more decades, and, with luck, for more. A child will always be fascinated by the 'chuff-chuff' of the steam locomotive. It's an example of power relatively easily understood - to a point.

But this is only superficial 'interest' in steam. It is nothing like experiencing, on an emotional basis, the day-to-day thrill of seeing and hearing pacifics (or 4-6-0s if you were on a poor benighted railway with copper capped chimneys substituing for proper express locomotives:)) roaring through your local station at 75-80 mph.

IT is nothing like watching the 2-6-2T (or 0-4-2T if on aforesaid benighted copper-capped railway) on the push-pull chuffing out of the bay platforms with a one-coach train on the local branch.

I realised this long, long ago - indeed, when main line steam was still the norm on some lines. In October 1964, we had the last A4 special on the ECML to Kings Cross. I remember asking my dad to take us over to see this, and, even though I was only 12 myself, I wanted a young lad, a year younger than me, to see this with his own eyes, because his interest in trains was new, and he'd never seen the ECML as I had, just three years earlier, with majority steam traction.

So, over we went, and on time, 60009 stormed through. I remember seeing the light from the firebox door in the cab, and brief shadows of the crew. And I knew a chapter of my life had been closed. I would never, ever see the same again. The lad (I forget his name now) was interested, but I could tell, it just didn't mean anything like the same to him as it did to me. He couldn't go back to memories because he had none. He had nothing like the emotional attachment to this than I had. OF course not, why should he?

I suppose it's like the Hurricane or Spitfire pilot watching students in 1950, or better still, in 1970, complaining or protesting against whatever. He'll be thinking: "My God, did I fly myself into life or death situations hour after hour, day after day for this? So you knobs like you can protest over <insignificant complaint vs Nazi occupation>?"

And to answer the OP - alas, not.

I bunked Reading shed for the first time around Easter, 1962. There were (I've lost my log book) from memory about 70 locos on shed - Castles, Halls, lots of 61xx, 43xx and 57xx and probably 28xx (but no Kings, no Counties and I don't think even a Grange or Manor). But there was a Schools on Reading Southern. (30911, Dover) - that's my hardest concrete memory of that Sunday morning!

For you, Lady Margaret Hall - or whatever you have - has a deep, emotional attachment: you lived with it - her, you smelled it - her, you kicked, slipped, hurt your head. burnt your hand on the firebox door, or whatever on it - her. This was not at a staged heritage event - this was your day-to-day experience: your life, and your livelihood.

Simon, or Tricia, or Tristran, born in 2015 and raised with the internet and mobile phone and ... all the rest - for them, it will never, it can never, be the same.

Even if some, 0.01% become hardenend enthusiasts, it can never be the same.
A very good post! (Tho I have enjoyed the OP's ripostes too!) all great stuff.

Aston Hall name and number plates were reported as making £10,000 at a recent railwayana auction, so there is still significant interest amongst us oldies. Younger folk would likely prefer the diesel and electric stuff.
I do wonder where that kind of money comes from I have to say!

Indeed, only three months cleaning, a quick firing instruction course at Old Oak Common and then out with an established fireman for a fortnight. Started of course in the lowest link but often swapped turns with higher link firemen who were content for an easier life on shorter runs. We even had "passed" firemen who were only just turning thirty and often on driving turns.
Normally had four Castles allocated, mainly for working the Birkenhead passenger (originating from Margate I think) or standing as the down line pilot. Four Manors arrived in 1963 to work Redhill turns. Good old days !!!
There's folk younger (and older maybe) than you who would pay good money for that experience alone!
 
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