How did we get them?

Most of the plates were presented by British Railways to the Royal Air Force; by the mid 1960s many steam locos had their name and number plates removed whilst still in service to prevent theft as such items increased in value, and the frequently filthy and uncleaned locos saw out their final days with cabside or smokebox numbers crudely painted or chalked on, though in 1967 34077 and others acquired a home-made smokebox number plate with numerals cut from soup tins!

The Museum was donated batches of nameplates plates and crests from the RAF via:

  • the Maintenance Command base at RAF Kidbrooke in November 1965 (46 Squadron)
  • RAF Kenley in February 1966, (Sir Trafford Leigh Mallory/Hurricane/222/229/264 Squadrons)
  • another batch via RAF Kidbrooke in November 1966 (Sir Keith Park/141/253/501 Squadrons)
  • April 1967 (crests for Royal Observer Corps, 46 Squadron, Royal Air Force)
  • Kidbrooke again in July 1968 (Croydon/219/602/615 Squadrons)
  • April 1970 via Bentley Priory (Royal Observer Corps/Fighter Command)
  • No 249 Squadron plates in October 1973, four years after the unit had disbanded in Cyprus.
  • In 1996, thanks partly to a generous private donation, the Museum acquired the 603 Squadron plate and crest, and in October 2006 the nameplate of 34066 Spitfire was an additional item recovered from RAF Bentley Priory along with the other RAFM owned plates previously on loan there. The smokebox numberplate of ‘Rebuilt Scot’ No 46159 ‘The Royal Air Force’ was privately donated in September 2007.