A First World War tragedy, the origins of Lassie and the loyalty of Bruce

This post has been written by Harriet Steers – one of our First World War archive volunteers –  and continues to reveal stories emerging from updating our fallen railwaymen list.

Whilst looking through the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) Gazette (available on the open shelves of Search Engine) we came across a small group of men that had all died on New Year’s Day, 1915. Two of the people that died were twin brothers, Henri and John Villiers Russell, both were labourers in the Locomotive Department at Crewe station.

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Navvy poets. Have you heard of such a thing?

If we think of a railway navvy, a few choice adjectives come to mind. I would hazard a guess that “erudite”, “literate” and “religious” were not among those chosen. However, we have recently acquired an intriguing collection of poetry by self-proclaimed railway navvy, William Garratt, where these adjectives would appear very appropriate.

Book of poetry by William Garratt, a railway navvy. Printed Coventry by Herald Office around 1882.

Book of poetry by William Garratt, a railway navvy. Printed Coventry by Herald Office around 1882.

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Engineered to perfection: the GEC Traction Archives cataloguing project

This post is written by our Project Archivist Charlotte Burgess, who is currently cataloguing the museum’s GEC traction archives.

I am the Project Archivist for the GEC Traction archive collection, based in Search Engine.  The project began in February this year and finishes September 2016 and is funded by The National Archives Cataloguing Grants Programme 2014.  The collection is the largest at the National Railway Museum with a colossal 1571 boxes as well as four filing cabinets filled with microfilm and glass negatives!

This is only a third of the collection!  (All boxes without white labels belong to the GEC Traction archive)

This is only a third of the collection! (All boxes without white labels belong to the GEC Traction archive)

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Remembering Quintinshill 100 years on

Today’s post is written by Andrew McLean, our Head Curator.

The devastating accident on the Caledonian Railway at Quintinshill near Gretna on 22 May 1915 is Britain’s greatest railway disaster.

At least 227 people were killed in a multiple crash exacerbated by a fire which engulfed the wreckage. The majority of deaths came from the 1/7th (Leith) Battalion the Royal Scots who were journeying to Liverpool to board a troop ship on its way to Gallipoli. Instead, the Battalion was decimated and barely a family in the historic port of Leith – from where the men had been recruited – was left untouched by the tragedy.

quintinshill-1

The Quintinshill accident of 1915 is still Britain’s worst railway disaster.

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Poetry in Motion: Verses and Odes from the archives

This post is written by our archive volunteers Jack Garside and Tania Parker

Whilst sorting through the National Railway Museum’s archive collections we came across this poem written about an unusual topic;  the start of construction on the Dee Bridge, near Connah’s Quay in Flintshire, on 16th August 1887.

It was written and also recited by the poet R.D. Roberts at a celebratory meal. The meal was attended by the leader of the opposition, William Ewart Gladstone, whose country house, New Hawarden Castle was located near the bridge. As well as commending the many benefits that the Dee Bridge would bring in terms of acting as a conduit for commerce and bringing together the nations of England and Wales, the poem also acclaims Edward Watkin, the chairman of the Manchester, Sheffield and  Lincolnshire Railway.

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A new home for cornerstone of Britain’s railway history

We have recently acquired a complete set of railway Parliamentary papers charting the official story of the birth of the railway network from 1837 up to the early 2oth century in 1906.

These Parliamentary papers are a vital piece in the jig-saw for anybody researching railway history; revealing the trials, tribulations, successes and failures of various lines, personages, innovations and legislation that led to the network we have today and the innovation that was exported around the world.

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Designing an interactive Rocket and a wall panel that makes sounds

Our new Little Play Station for under 5s is proving very popular with our youngest visitors. Creating the area was an exciting challenge and involved working with several external companies to bring our ideas to life. One of these companies was Paragon Creative.

Our previous collaboration, a large track building exercise, was a hit

Our previous collaboration, a large track building exercise, was a hit

We had worked with them in the past to create our popular ‘Build a railway track’ activity and so we approached them with two new ideas for the Little Play Station; a ‘Build Stephenson’s Rocket’ interactive and an interactive ‘trains wall panel’.

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