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 20th century in 1906.
These Parliamentary papers reveal 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.
The set comprises 123 volumes arranged by year and contain over 1400 separate papers.
To whet your appetite, here is a selection of the type of information and subject matter contained within these volumes.
There are maps showing proposed railway lines, termini, gradient profiles and geographical features. This map, from the 1841 volume is the proposed Great Northern Railway line between London and York. Aside from the line itself, the other points of interest are the population numbers of settlements alongside the line.
Then there are volumes showing railway structures and bridges by the likes of Robert Stephenson and Brunel.
Also included are the reports and minutes of evidence that really give a tangible feel to key moments of history. Such as this first-hand account given by Isambard Kingdom Brunel on his Great Western Railway broad gauge line.
And there is a whole volume dedicated to the inquiry into Tay Bridge disaster, which includes numerous plans and maps of the structure of the bridge.
It’s not just the key dates that are reflected, there are also reports which give an insight into the social conditions of railway workers, such as the volume of reports on labour conditions such as this 1892 snippet on hours of work.
Basically, whatever your interest or area of study, it is likely that these Parliamentary Papers will be useful to you.
The plan is to catalogue these individual papers onto the library catalogue to make them easier to find, but in the meantime if there are any volumes you would like to consult, please contact Search Engine.