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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Great War Railwaymen and the Sinking of the Aragon

This blog is written by Dr Robert Demaine, one of our archive volunteers who is researching railways and the First World War. This post continues the stories behind our updates to the fallen railway workers list.

The casualty lists published in railway company magazines during the First World War offer a wealth of fascinating detail which can often set the researcher on the trail of the stories behind the columns of names.

Take this example from the Great Central Railway Journal for March 1918:

Great Central Railway Journal for March 1918

Great Central Railway Journal for March 1918

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Stories from the Western Front: 1000 entries now updated on our list of fallen railwaymen

This blog is written by Harriet Steers, one of our archive volunteers who is researching railways and the First World War.

We recently started a project to enhance the NRM’s list of 20,000 railwaymen who died in the First World War. We have now updated the records of over 1100 men that served, providing more invaluable data for those that worked for the Great Central Railway (GCR) as well as the London and North Western Railway (LNWR).

Great Central Railway Journal, May 1917

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Capturing railway construction

This post is by Martha Cattell, who is currently undertaking a collaborative studentship with the National Railway Museum as part of a masters degree in the History of Art at the University of York.

The partnership offers me a unique opportunity to work within the museum environment and carry out a research project on an aspect of the National Railway Museum’s image collection.  I’m using a selection of nineteenth and early twentieth century photographic albums to consider how the construction of the railways is depicted in photographic form.  I’m also taking the opportunity to record details of individual images, and to analyse the albums in depth to help enrich their catalogue entries.

The museum has an extensive photographic collection, made up of around 1.75 million photographs. The subjects range from standard images of new locomotives to the more bizarre, such as stills of lost property at Paddington Station. These photographs, and particularly those depicting the construction of the railways, demonstrate the huge impact that train travel had on Victorian and Edwardian society, and many of the images have the potential for study for both their documentary and aesthetic values.

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Little Play Station for under 5s is now open!

Today’s post is written by our Learning Content Developer, Rozy Macaulay.

At the National Railway Museum we have been busy developing a new and exciting space for our youngest visitors to discover the world of railways and our collection through play.  We are visited by lots of families with young children, many of whom come back time and time again.

Several years ago we started running play sessions for children under 5.  Every afternoon an area in the museum was taken over by toy trains, railways, building blocks, stories, dressing up and shouts of ‘Choo Choo’. It was wonderful to see so many young children enjoying playing surrounded by our locomotives.  It seemed only right that we built on the popularity of these sessions and provided a dedicated space for families with young children.

The play area in Great Hall before the redesign.

The play area in Great Hall before the redesign.

The new ‘Little Play Station’ contains four zones; Explore, Build, Move and Pretend.

Explore is especially for our very youngest visitors; 0-2 years old.  It contains a soft pod where little ones can look, touch, move, push, pull, turn, and explore with toys and an interactive wall panel in the shape of a train.

In the Build zone children can dress up in hard hats and hi-visibility jackets and build their own version of Stephenson’s Rocket.

Children can play with and create their own wooden railway layouts in the Move area.  This includes a new low table layout and a wall-mounted track.

The track table and 'build a rocket' feature

The track table and ‘build a rocket’ feature

The play pod in use. Little Playstation sits very near some of our Great Hall locos

The play pod in use. Little Play Station sits very near some of our Great Hall locos

Children can Pretend to be drivers or passengers in our final zone; our very own Railway Station for children to dress up, sell tickets, make announcements and imagine journeys.

Not only is all of this lots of fun but the activities have been carefully chosen and designed encourage children’s development.  They provide opportunities for children to play in different ways encouraging social, physical and language development in particular.  We also hope that the area will inspire families to explore the rest of the museum and our collection.

The Little Play Station is now open every day so please drop in and play!

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