Locomotive & Train
Railwayana - Loco Smokebox Numberplates
Railway Numberplate carried in 1905 and fixed by studs
from the rear
Cast Iron Smokebox Numberplates were
used on locos by some Companies from quite early days as each loco
had to be identified by a number for maintenance etc. Many locos had
the number painted on the buffer beam or on the side of the cab
without any number on the Smokebox Door.
Iron Smokebox Numberplates were introduced for all Locos by
British Railways on Nationalisation in order to standardise the numbering and
between regions. All regions had a 5 digit number except for the old GWR where
it was decided it would be a pity to scrap all the cabside plates on the
locos and so it was more sensible to keep the 4 digit numbers that the locos
were already allocated.
These numbers were carried
on the Smokebox door with the plate usually painted black and the
numbers white. They are what most people remember as they were the number that
went down in the spotters notebook.
||London Midland Scottish Region
Scottish Region plus certain ex Lancashire & Yorkshire,
Midland & Somerset & Dorset Locos.
Shown below are examples of
Numberplates that we have sold in our Railwayana Auctions.
Many of these plates
survived and are regularly available at Auctions. When purchasing a plate
one in ex loco condition with provenance is always preferable. Smokebox
Numberplates, being of cast iron, were quite often broken in
service and then welded by BR to save casting a new one. It is
therefore not unusual
to find one that has been repaired.
Smokebox from West Country
Pacific 34017 "Ilfracombe" that, although welded when broken in service, was sold in our
February 2006 auction for £4250.
you are interested in buying a Smokebox Plate then the price you
will pay will depend on condition, how big the Class was and if the
loco was named. Ex loco plates will attract a premium of about 25%
while those painted front and back can drop by about 20% from the
average. £200 - £400 will buy you a plate from one of the larger
Classes from all Regions. For named locos you would expect to pay
about £600 for a GWR Hall Class plate and £2500 - £3000 for a West
Country Pacific with a great deal of variety in between.
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