Famous nameplate a significant part of Doncaster’s railway heritage is now lost to our town

For many years, visitors to Doncaster Museum have had the privilege of seeing one of Doncaster’s finest examples of railway memorabilia.

Monday, 16th September 2019, 8:47 am
Updated Friday, 18th October 2019, 2:27 pm
A previous  Mallard railway exhibition at Doncaster Museum. Picture: Andrew Roe.

Taking pride of place in a themed cabinet was the original nameplate from one of the world’s most famous trains, namely “Kingfisher”, proudly mounted on a wooden baseplate.

Kingfisher was one of only 35 “Gresley Streamlined A4 Class” locomotives built at Doncaster – Mallard being the most famous example.

It was built here in 1936 and was the last British Rail A4 locomotive to remain in service until it was eventually scrapped in 1966. The nameplate was rescued and presented to Kingfisher School in Wheatley on 17th March 1967 and the school became the proud and trusted custodian of this unique artefact for over 50 years.

As one of the most collectable nameplates in the world, the commercial value of the nameplate began to escalate with enthusiasts offering large sums of money. In order to both protect the nameplate and to share it with Doncaster residents, the school arranged for it to be passed on to the stewardship of Doncaster Museum in the 1990s where it remained – until recently. (The Museum kindly commissioned an exact copy to replace it at the school as a gesture of thanks).

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It came as a terrible shock to read that the nameplate had been sold by the school on July 13th this year, with the money raised (£52,000) to “go towards the renovation of a currently unused building at the school”.

This nameplate was a valuable and significant part of Doncaster’s railway heritage and, much as the school technically “owned” the object, it was generally accepted that its role was one of stewardship, especially as an exact copy was on display in its corridors.

It is well known that Hall Cross School has an extensive and valuable collection of heritage railway amassed over nearly a century and there must have been times of austerity in the past when the school could have made some quick cash by selling off some or all of this collection. It chose not to.

This famous Doncaster nameplate is now lost to our town and generations to come will no longer be able to gaze at it in the Museum and listen to stories about its history and its place in the cultural and industrial heritage of Doncaster.

DB

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