Collectors Corner

The idea for a shop which could sell off British Rail’s (BR) collectable items commonly known as relics arose from a staff suggestion after it was noticed that a former BR Fireman who had been made redundant had set up a business buying and selling railway relics which in the late 1960s mainly comprised of items from steam locomotives such as name and number plates. Collectors Corner opened in November 1969 in a building on Cardington Street, Euston which had originally been a harness room for horses which were used for the delivery and collection of parcels in the local area of London. Starting from a small staff of two which was part of the London Midland Region`s Stores Controller organisation, a sweep of various stores around the Region had brought together all sorts of items from lamps to station signs, out of date copies of rule books, timetables, labels, signalling equipment, old uniform clothing etc. Initially the shop was open on three days a week from Wednesday to Friday but as business grew this was extended to also include Saturdays to allow customers from outside London to visit. A price list was published and a lot of business was conducted by post.

The success of the shop saw the staffing increased initially in the 1970s to three and then for a short period to four days with opening hours extended to include Mondays to Saturdays. To promote the business the opportunity of attending the various BR depot and station open days was taken and proved in the main to be very successful and easy to achieve using the transit van used by staff to visit various railway locations to collect new stock. The resigning of stations across BR brought an almost non ending supply of new material but also changes on the railway such as the introduction of new battery hand and train tail lamps had dramatic and fortunate consequences for Collectors Corner, plus other changes such as withdrawal of locomotives which carried names meant these were some of the most desirable and expensive items the shop ever sold.

In 1983 the premises occupied since 1969 were considered not fit for use and as an adjacent building on the same site which was at ground level and had previously been used as a garage was available, this was procured for use by the shop which then transferred over the courtyard. Unfortunately this was not to last very long as the site had been sold for a hotel development so another move was made into a building which had adjoined the original shop premises and had originally was used as an electrical substation to supply Euston Station before it was rebuilt in the 1960s. This proved to be beneficial to Collectors Corner as including the ground floor it comprised of two further floors above, one of which was used as the sales area. The Shop was then based here until January 1998 after which the business was transferred to a site on Hudson St in York.

As described above Collectors Corner formed part of the London Midland Region of BR under the oversight of the Stores Controller subsequently renamed Regional Stores Controller. When this organisation was disbanded in the late 1980s oversight of the organisation was transferred to the local Area Manager at Euston, but when the railway was being split up into Business Sectors a decision was made to transfer Collectors’ Corner to BR Headquarters Central Services this being one of the last reorganisations under OFQ (Organisation For Quality) which was a sensible move as the shop was by this time dealing with all parts of BR. Privatisation of BR saw Collectors Corner sold to be part of National Railway Supplies but the building at Euston was not included in the sale and was subsequently sold in 1998 hence the move of the shop to York.