Charity railway banknotes auction in late hitch, but collectors rally to the cause


By Geoff Courtney

Despite an unexpected late change that saw the sale of unique railway-themed banknotes in aid of charity switched from a specialist railwayana auction house to one of London’s top houses, more than £25,000 was raised for Mental Health UK as enthusiasts and currency collectors vied with each other in online bidding.

The sale was held to celebrate the launch of the Bank of Scotland’s polymer £10 banknotes, and comprised 18 special edition notes that were each given different serial numbers matching the BR numbers of the 18 preserved LMS ‘Black Fives’ and featured an image of No. 45407 crossing Glenfinnan viaduct on the Fort William to Mallaig line.

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Taking a breather: Fort William-bound LNER K4 class 2-6-0 No. 61994 The Great Marquess pauses with its support coach at Spean Bridge on the West Highland Line in October 2011. A totem sign from the station featured on a Bank of Scotland £10 note that sold at a banknote auction held in aid of Mental Health UK. BRIAN SHARPE

Another 18 notes also featured the image of the ‘Black Five’ on the viaduct, but the serial numbers were the LMS numbers of the preserved 4-6-0s and images of different totem signs that adorned some of the West Highland Line stations were included.

Jamie Black, one of the Bank of Scotland team that had overseen the creation and printing by De La Rue of the notes, said: “These are quite literally unique items – there is only one of each note and they will not be reproduced,” adding that each could thus be guaranteed to be the only one in the world.

It was initially announced by Bank of Scotland that – part of the Great Central Railwayana group – would auction the notes at the end of November, following a recommendation to Great Central by the NRM, and indeed it was the auction house’s director, Dave Jones, who came up with the idea that a selection of the notes could feature West Highland Line totem station signs.

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