A brief History

The Railways started to use enamel sign rather than wooden one at the end of the Nineteenth Century, firstly on Signalboxes and for Running in Boards but then for all manner of Station Information. With Nationalisation and regional colours a whole new set of signs were produced and these tend to be the most collected today as many were relatively small and also there were a large number rescued when the new Corporate black & white signs were introduced.

 Apart from BR Totems one of the most collectable areas are Station Direction Signs. Early Station Direction Signs were two sided enamels generally in an aluminium frame and held by brackets at the side. These were generally mounted by brackets from a Lamppost. Below are four examples - all of which have lost their frames.  

These early Big 4 Company signs turn up occasionally but much more common are the flanged enamel signs brought in by BR after Nationalisation. These signs in the regional colours were put up as part of the BR resigning policy to help people find the station when wandering around the streets. They all have the same basic format of British Railways in totem at the top with an arrow and the information below. They were made as double sided box signs with a bracket generally coming out the side so that they could be mounted on a suitable piece of street furniture. They have mostly now been split into two separate parts as they are easier to display on a wall and more importantly they will fetch more as two items rather than one!


As with all BR enamels some regions had a lot more signs than others and this is reflected in the price - the rarest being the BR(Sc) and BR(S) signs although the highest prices for named signs vary a great deal and relate to the desirability of the station name. Station direction signs are a manageable size & can make an excellent display of the regional colours.

For a little less money Signs with a Totem, an Arrow and "STATION" you would expect to pay between 200 and 600

One side of a Black experimental sign went through auction in 2002 and fetched 1150.

The final Station Direction Signs put in use were made of alloy and either cast or painted and a couple of examples are shown below.

The Running in Board below is so large that it is made in two pieces and although it is a great name it would not be very expensive to acquire.

As well as Running in Boards the station name would also be shown on SR Targets, BR Totems and various Companies Lamp Tablets. They were all designed to be mounted on lampposts so as to be clearly visible at night. A sample of pre Nationalisation enamel Lamp Tablets are shown below. They were removed when BR Totems were installed.

Another use for enamel signs on stations was as Doorplates and the BR versions are very collectable as they are small and can easily be obtained in all six regional colours. An example from each region is shown below. They can be obtained from about 100 - 200 for a simple sign such as "Private" and up to 1000+ for an unusual sign such as "Commercial Inspectors". Most are flanged but many of the BR(E) ones are flat.

 There are many thousands of different examples available to purchase and you will have no trouble in building a collection by bidding in Specialist Railwayana Auctions. The general rule for enamel signs is that the smaller the sign is the more expensive it will be as large signs can be difficult to display.

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