Prisoners of the Red Desert: Wartime Adventures of LNWR railwaymen

We have now added over 1800 new entries to our list of  railwaymen who died in the First World War, you can see our list of over 20,000 men on our website.

Our research demonstrates that not all railwaymen spent the war in trenches on the western front. During the First World War railwaymen served all over the world, hundreds served on ships (as our last posts have shown) and many experienced extraordinary adventures  in stark contrast to their jobs at home.

LNWR SS Hibernia at Holyhead c.1907

LNWR SS Hibernia at Holyhead c.1907. She was renamed HMS Tara for her war duties.

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Parliamentary papers and Railway Mania

In May, our Librarian Karen posted that we had acquired a set of parliamentary papers covering the years 1837 up 1906.

In the archives with the Parliamentary papers

In the archives with the Parliamentary papers

I’ve recently started working as the project cataloguer for the collection and I’ll be adding each individual paper and report onto our library catalogue over the next few months. There is some really fascinating material within the papers and as I work my way through each volume and year it is like viewing the formative years of British railway history in fast forward!

One of the key themes of the early volumes is the rapid expansion of new railway schemes and their promoters to criss-cross Britain with lines, and the enthusiasm of prospective investors in these schemes in their desire to profit from this new high-tech communications network. This mad desire to profit from the coming of the railway age became known as “Railway Mania”.

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Accidents from history – Penistone 1896

Our volunteers who do a wonderful job on the historic Lancashire and Yorkshire Signalling School – the oldest working model railway in the world – will be re-enacting a another railway accident this Saturday. They will demonstrate how mechanical signalling works, and what can go wrong if you don’t follow the rules.

A Manchester Sheffield and Lincoln 0-6-0 pictured in 1896  - very similar to that involved in this incident.

A Manchester Sheffield and Lincoln 0-6-0 pictured in 1896 0 – very similar to that involved in this incident.

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Tracks through the Landscape: Land Plans, Sections and Books of Reference

This blog is written by NRM archive volunteers Jack Garside and Tania Parker 

Marylebone Station

Our collection of land plans, sections has recently been made accessible through our library archive service, Search Engine.  The collection showcases construction of railways in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as well as providing fascinating insights into society at the time. You can see a list of the plans here.

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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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