Alresford Hampshire - The Watercress Line steam railway had given up hope of ever seeing a historic clock five years after it was stolen in Alresford.
So the Mid-Hants Railway was delighted yesterday when the police returned the timepiece, valued at £1,000.
It was bought by an enthusiast at an antiques fair in Surrey who later realised it had been stolen in 2009 and handed it in to police.
The clock is thought to have initially turned up at a car boot sale in Surrey.
But all railway clocks have a unique serial number which made it easy for its rightful owners to be traced.
The John Walker Southern Railway clock was taken from the Booking Hall at Alresford station in March 2009.
It had originally been donated in the memory of long-serving volunteer Les Jones.
Managing director Colin Chambers told the Hampshire Chronicle last night: "I'm surprised someone stole it because there is nothing they can do with it. They are so easy to identify. But we are delighted to have it back."
Mr. Chambers said he had the nice job of telling the jones family that the memorial to Les had been returned.
The clock will be checked over before it will be remounted in the booking hall.
In 2009 the railway offered a one-day footplate course to anyone helping with the clock's return.
The offer was still open, said Mr Chambers.
He said it was the second happy ending to a crime.
The case of a smashed window several years ago has been solved after a man was arrested in London.
His DNA matched blood at the scene.
The railway recently received a cheque for £100.
The railway runs from Alresford to Alton and reopened in the late 1970s after closure in 1973.
It today attracts some 125,000 visitors a year.
It has 450 volunteers, employs 50 staff, including eight engineering apprentices.