The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 6, Issue 2 (June 1, 1931)
A Famous Railway Museum — Interesting Exhibits
A Famous Railway Museum
Modestly tucked away under a glass cover in the Railway Museum at York, and in the midst of a hundred and one relics of the old days of travel, is the single object whose passing brings its own note of regret (says a writer in the London Star).
The faded oblong strip of paper, is a fourth-class railway ticket from Scotland, and recalls the days when thrifty folk could economise by travelling in railway trucks, seated on the floor, without protection against wind or rain.
This ticket is only one of the scores of curios relating to the transport of bygone days and which have been collected and housed in the Railway Museum.
The Guard's Red Coat.
The whole history of the locomotive is reflected in the collection, which is the most interesting of its kind in the world.
The visitor is reminded, first of all, of the days when a guard sat aloft on the carriages at the back of the train and waved a flag. Here are his goggles and red coat.
In this storehouse of memories are old prints of early railway scenes, and cartoons reminiscent of early railway history.
There are examples of historic engines and—joy of the schoolboys’ heart—the very tools with which George Stephenson worked and made his first models.
To the little building near the Railway Institute, hundreds of schoolboys come every year to spend many happy hours looking over the earliest examples of railway engineering.
And the keenest visitors are not always children, for among the people of the north is a natural aptitude, or “turn,” as they would say, for things mechanical.
While the southerner is concerned only with the fact that a steam-engine goes, the more inquiring citizen of the north seeks to know why it goes.
Here under one roof are gathered objects which unfold eloquently the history of transport in the past century.
A Tip for Grumblers.
Most of them were collected for the occasion of the Railway Centenary, which took place in Darlington in 1922. During the nine years which have elapsed since, valuable additions have been made to the collection.
Passengers to-day who are in the habit of grumbling at the discomfort and inconvenience of railway travel have only to look upon some of the open-air railway coaches in use in days gone by to realise how much their well-being is studied in 1931.
Few of the first-class habitues would care to travel even in the elegant “Royal Railroad Carriage” shewn in one picture of Queen Victoria and her consort.
The Emergency Bell.
In this work of art, the Queen and Prince Albert are depicted with “a few of the Royal children” and two ladies-in-waiting.
In spite of the excellent view of Windsor Castle shewn in the background and the upholstering in red and gold, the Royal party is seen seated with expressions of some restraint.
One of the most interesting objects is the end of a guard's van fitted with a communication cord.
In those days the cord ran outside the carriage windows, so that anyone who had occasion to use it had to cross the carriage, let down the window, lean out, and grope for the cord.
Years ago many of the third-class carriages were open to the sky, and there is page 24 an example here of such a carriage which was used by the Southern Railway on the Bodmin and Wadebridge Line in Cornwall. The buffers were of solid wood. First-class carriages were covered and had buffers stuffed with horse-hair.
The museum has its own little “chamber of horrors.” Here are forged bank notes and coins, and other curious relics.
The Pride of the Show.
To be found in the museum are also several authentic examples of the first iron roads which were made for wheels without flanges.
There is a splendid and genuine portion of the old Outram way, laid down by Outram himself, the father of the “tram,” in 1797. This was brought down from the L.N.E.R.'s Peak Forest Canal, near Chinley.
The permanent-way and rail sections shew the growth in the size and efficiency, of rails from 1830 onwards, and include the smallest rail, which was used on the Leeds and Selby line, and which was 36lb. to the yard.
The pride of the collection is the Hetton engine, built at Hetton Colliery workshops in 1822 by Geo. Stephenson and Nicholas Wood.
It was rebuilt in 1857 and again in 1882, and is said to have been working right up till 1913.
In the Railway Centenary Procession of old and modern locomotives in 1922 the Hetton engine led the way—under its own steam!
Many other famous engines have been found and consigned to honourable retirement in the museum.
Letters in the handwriting of Stephenson, L. I. K. Brunel, George Hudson and other giants of the early days of railway transport have also been collected and stored in this treasure-house of railway relics.
“A Moving University.”
“The smoking compartment of a train is a means of obtaining a liberal education. It is a sort of moving university, where everything is discussed, from the mining industry to the immortality of the soul.”— Canadian National Railways Magazine.page break
“Idols of Hearts and of Households.”—Dickens.
(Rly. Publicity photos.)
Our Children's Gallery.—(1) Crissie and Stewart Franklyn; (2) Les, Bryan and Ray O'Connor; (3) Dennis and Ivor Wright; (4) Bruce Creed; (5) Lurline Burgess; (6) June Parris; (7) Joan Kelly; (8) James Rankin; (9) Betty and Frances Laley and Vina Dalgleish; (10) Ivy and Bobble Donaldson; (11) Ownen and Margaret McKenzie; (12) David Hutchison; (13) Eileen Williams; (14) Nola Haining; (15) Donaid Gibury.