THE railway sign that inspired a classic poem by poet laureate John Betjeman was sold yesterday for £2,700 at auction in Chippenham last week.

The Dilton Marsh Halt sign, which was threatened with closure in 1969, formed part of a huge collection of railway heritage which sold for more than £93,000 at Chippenham Auction Rooms on Friday (November 10).

The collection, which also included signs from 14 lost railway stations such as Greatstone-on-Sea, West Weybridge and North Tawton, were sold following the death of a Wiltshire-based railway worker, who had amassed the collection over six decades.

Although his identity has not been revealed, his widower told the auctioneers that she was delighted with the result and that it was a fitting tribute to him and his love of the country's railways.

Principal auctioneer Richard Edmonds said: “This was an exhausting but wonderfully uplifting sale - 500 lots in four hours. I’ve never seen our auction room so packed. It’s wonderful to know that so many people still care passionately about Britain’s railway heritage. With pretty fierce bidding, every item was an adrenaline rush.

“Many bidders travelled 3–4 hours to be with us. We also had phone and online bidders from Scotland and even Australia.”