The Last Englishman is Laid Low

This is a guest post written by Associate Curator of Railways, Russell Hollowood.

At 7am on 24 January 1965, Sir Winston Churchill’s immediate family gathered around the great man’s death bed, and by 8am the BBC had broadcast the news of his death to a waiting world. The effect on the world’s media was electric; however, the reaction of government officials was a model of calm efficiency.

It fell to the ‘modernising’ Harold Wilson to lead the nation in official morning for the loss of a giant from what must already have seemed like another age.

It fell to the ‘modernising’ Harold Wilson to lead the nation in official mourning for the loss of a giant from what must already have seemed like another age.

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Collision on Signal School Model Railway 

This is a guest post written by Associate Curator of Railways, Russell Hollowood.

At 2pm on 17 January 2015, the School of Signalling Model Railway will restage a collision that happened near Heighington, North East England in 1949.

In 1949, the UK rail network was crowded with goods trains like this 1966 example, photographed at Stockport Teviot Dale. Image No. 10659629 | This is a Rights Managed image

In 1949, the UK rail network was crowded with goods trains like this 1966 example, photographed at Stockport Teviot Dale. Image No. 10659629 | This is a Rights Managed image

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Southern C&W Goes Live

We’re pleased to announce that the catalogue for our collection of Southern Railway Carriage and Wagon drawings is now live. You can find the catalogue on our website here. The drawings in this collection cover subjects from the 1840s right up to the 1960s and include plenty from the pre-grouping SER, LC&DR, LSWR and LBSCR, as well as the Southern Railway and BR Southern Region. You can view any of the drawings in the collection by arranging a visit to Search Engine or you can order copies via our copy services.

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Planning Winston’s Funeral Operation

This is a guest post written by Associate Curator of Railways, Russell Hollowood.

24 January 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Sir Winston Churchill. What is often forgotten is that staging the greatest state funeral since the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 took years of planning.  In 1953, Her Majesty The Queen instructed the government to prepare a funeral which would cement Churchill’s place in history. Her Majesty suggested that the Cabinet looked to the funeral of the Duke of Wellington in 1852 as a pattern for the scale of event required.

Winston Churchill, wearing 'Great George', leaves for the coronation of Her Majesty The Queen.

Winston Churchill, wearing ‘Great George’, leaves for the coronation of Her Majesty The Queen.

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“To secure peace is to prepare for war”

This is a guest blog post written by Assistant Curator of Collections, Simon Batchelor

Within the collections of the National Railway Museum lie several reminders that in pre-war Britain there was a sense of foreboding concerning the preparedness of the country should it become embroiled in another conflict. Perhaps the most emotive of these are the medals and awards given to railwaymen who were members of shooting clubs, both local and national.

The earliest reference we have to railway riflemen is a rulebook issued to members of the Eastern Counties Railway Rifle Volunteers (2005-7537) in 1859. The men of the ECRRV recruited as the 8th Corps of the Essex Rifle Volunteers. The “Volunteers” were an early form of Territorial Army and could be called upon for home defence (this included policing mass demonstrations). The officers of the ECRRV were probably members of the newly formed National Rifle Association an organisation founded “for the promotion of marksmanship in the interests of the Defence of The Realm and a permanence of the Volunteer Forces.”

2005-7537 Eastern Counties Railway booklet “Rules of the Eastern Counties Railway Rifle Volunteers”

2005-7537 Eastern Counties Railway booklet “Rules of the Eastern Counties Railway Rifle Volunteers”

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Cooking a Christmas dinner in Teddy’s smokebox

This is a guest post written by Rail Operations Manager, Noel Hartley

To say a huge thank you to the volunteers who helped out the communications team this year, the department decided to cook a full Christmas dinner in the smokebox of Teddy, the locomotive that hauls Santa’s Steam Adventure.

IMG_4073

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Ambulance trains in 1914 “This is Christmas, and the world is supposed to be civilised”

We have become familiar with images of wartime Christmas truces where fighting stopped, football matches were played and carols were sung, but this certainly wasn’t the universal experience on the Western Front a hundred years ago.

Ambulance trains did not stop running during Christmas 1914, many patients still needed treatment and staff remained on trains during the holidays. Men worked 24 hours a day during Christmas to prepare Dover Marine station for an increasing amount of patients expected to be received onto home ambulance trains in 1915.

Continental ambulance train number 17 photographed in snow

Continental ambulance train number 17 photographed in snow

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