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28th May 2020
Rare 1893 MGN enamel sign sold for 480

Railway enthusiasts from all over Britain came together online to bid for a collection of railway-related items amassed by one of the pioneers of the North Norfolk railway – with over 250 lots going under the hammer for a combined total of more than £12,000.

Vintage signs, tools, signalling equipment, uniforms, railway lamps and clocks, books and timetables, photographs and paintings, timetables and train driver’s handbooks all featured in the auction, held by Aylsham-based keys Auctioneers and Valuers.

The collection was accumulated over half a century by Tony Lambert, the first ever employee of the North Norfolk Railway, who died in 2012.  Known as ‘Mr North Norfolk Railway’, Mr Lambert was a driving force in creating the heritage railway, working on the Poppy Line as a volunteer and then employee for well over 40 years.

Star lots in the auction included a rare Midland and Great Northern Railways blue enamel sign dating from 1893, which despite measuring just 20cm by 13cm, sold for £480, and a Great Northern Railway clock from Leeds, which sold for £570.

Railway enthusiasts from all over the country took part in the auction, which was streamed live on Keys’ online bidding platform, KeysLive.

“The attention this sale received was testament both to the respect that Tony Lambert was held in throughout the railway community, and the quality of the collection which he amassed during his lifetime,” said David Broom of Keys Auctioneers and Valuers.

“He spent his entire adult life collecting anything related to railways, and this collection provides a fascinating insight into their history during the second half of the 20th century.”

Tony Lambert trained as an accountant, but spent much of the spare time in his early adult life travelling from London with a group of fellow enthusiasts to create the North Norfolk Railway.  In the early 1970s he was able to follow his dream and embark on a second career as a railwayman – becoming the Poppy Line’s first employee and moving to Sheringham.

He died on Christmas Eve 2012, and his ashes are scattered in the yard at Weybourne, where a plaque commemorates his pivotal role in creating the Poppy Line.