Beeson's Pulling Power

Beeson's Pulling Power


A trio of rare model locomotives sold for a combined hammer price of just under £27,000 in our live online Nostalgic Trains auction on August 31st, multiplying their combined upper estimate nearly fourfold. 

The standout lot in the multi-owner sale was an LNWR Ramsbottom 0-6-0T ‘Special Tank’, which was built circa 1963. The model sold for £14,000, seven times its estimate of £1,500-£2,000.

A 1958 locomotive ‘Belted Will’ with tender, also estimated at £1,500-£2,000, sold for £9,500; while an early 1940s LNWR 4-6-0 136 ‘Minerva’ with tender built in the early 1940s and estimated at £2,000-£3,000, made £3,400.

All three locomotives were 2-rail O gauge scratch-built models by James Stanley Beeson (1906-1990), which formed part of a set of fourteen models in the auction from the late collector Paul Dowley. Dowley ordered the ‘Special Tank’ and ‘Belted Will’ models directly from Beeson, who by the 1970s was established as the 20th century’s finest maker of model railways.

Despite the fact that it was an online-only auction, such was the excitement surrounding the sale, specialist enthusiasts flew in from across Europe to bid for and take away their coveted items.

“We’re delighted with the figures achieved for these very special mid-20th century locomotives, which reflect the unparalleled reputation of Beeson among specialist collectors,” comments model railway specialist, Andrew Smith. “In particular, the ‘Special Tank’ model, which sold for an incredible £14,000, is believed to have been an especially difficult shape of cab for Beeson to craft, which is one reason why it sparked such a fierce bidding war and ultimately sold for such an enormous amount of money.”

London-born Beeson, who was known as ‘Stan’, began his 55-year career in 1924. Over the course of making around 1600 model locomotives, he earned a well-deserved reputation as the Fabergé of model train making, thanks to his perfectionism and extraordinary skills with the tools of the trade.

As well as collaborating with well-known brands like Bassett-Lowke and Exley, Beeson also made model trains to order for private clients like Paul Dowley, and the film industry, both in Hollywood and in the UK for the 1938 Hitchcock classic, The Lady Vanishes.

Paul Dowley’s collection produced two more highlights. A 1930s scratch-built Fine Scale O gauge locomotive and tender, Bulldog class 4-4-0 'Isle of Guernsey', sold for £1,700 against an estimate of £700-£1000 and an Exley scratch-built Fine Scale O gauge locomotive, Great Western 0-6-0T, built for Boyd Carpenter circa 1946, made £1,400, after being estimated at £400-£600.

“The overall success of this large and varied scale model railway auction shows that the market for model locomotives remains fiercely competitive,” adds Andrew Smith. “This is the case across the board, although the auction provided plentiful opportunities for new collectors who are at the start of building a layout, as well as for connoisseurs of the exceptionally fine Beeson models.”

To view the auction results, please visit HERE.

To discuss the sale of a similar collection, please contact Andrew Smith on  +44(0(1858 410 414.