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.

The set comprises 123 volumes arranged by year and contain over 1400 separate papers.

Parliamentary papers - 1837-1906

Parliamentary papers – 1837-1906

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.

Proposed Great Northern Railway between London and York, 1841. Showing population numbers in settlement surrounding the line

Then there are volumes showing railway structures and bridges by the likes of Robert Stephenson and Brunel.

Plan and elevation of iron bridge at Haddlesey, 1849

Plan and elevation of iron bridge at Haddlesey, 1849

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.

Brunel giving evidence as part of the process deciding which gauge will become the standard gauge across Britain's network, 1846.

Brunel giving evidence to the Gauge Commissioners, who were set up in 1845 to determine the relative merit of the Broad and Narrow Gauge. Located in 1846 volume.

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.

Showing a span of the Tay Bridge. Part of the appendix of maps and plans that made up the Inquiry into the disaster in 1879. Bound in the 1880 volume

Showing a span of the Tay Bridge. Part of the appendix of maps and plans that made up the Inquiry into the disaster in 1879. Bound in the 1880 volume

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.

Taken from the 1892 volume on the hours of labour of railway servants.

Taken from the 1892 volume on the hours of labour of railway servants.

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.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Museum news, Railway History, Research and archive and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s