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'Holy grail' rail posters collection saved from attic

image copyrightTwentieth Century Posters
image captionSpeed to the West was created by artist Charles Mayo in 1939

An archive of railway posters from the golden age of steam found in a disused attic is up for sale.

The daughter of a former British Railways employee found the collection of 170 items in the "collapsing loft" of a West London home.

Some of the art deco posters date back to the 1930s and are valued at between £2,000 and £3,000.

David Bownes, from Twentieth Century Posters, described the collection as "sensational".

image copyrightTwentieth Century Posters
image captionThe collection was saved by an employee of British Railways

He said the woman who contacted him about the posters had "no idea" of their value.

"You dream of a loft find - it's like the holy grail," he said.

"This loft was in terrible condition. Part of the roof had collapsed in.

"The posters were all rolled up and there were boxes of photographs and ephemera from the Great Western Railway's publicity office.

"It was just sensational."

Mr Bownes said the woman's father had worked for the former British Railways (Western Region) publicity office at Paddington in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

image copyrightTwentieth Century Posters
image captionService By Night is by renowned artist David Shepherd

"Back then, redundant publicity, including posters, was routinely consigned to the skip, but it seems that this employee had the vision to preserve examples for posterity," he said.

One of the posters, already sold for £2,100, is a 1955 piece by renowned artist David Shepherd entitled Service By Night.

Other artworks include Charles Mayo's 1939 work Speed to the West and a 1930s publicity poster for the Wye Valley Railway by F Gregory Brown.

image copyrightTwentieth Century Posters
image captionThe posters were discovered in an attic in West London

Related Topics

  • Great Western Railway
  • Art
  • Rail travel

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