Tracks through the Landscape: Land Plans, Sections and Books of Reference

This blog is written by NRM archive volunteers Jack Garside and Tania Parker 

Marylebone Station

Our collection of land plans, sections has recently been made accessible through our library archive service, Search Engine.  The collection showcases construction of railways in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as well as providing fascinating insights into society at the time. You can see a list of the plans here.

Here are a few of our personal favourites to a give a flavour of the collection…

Manchester London Road Station

The different coloured areas on this image show the complexity of having two competing railway companies sharing a station at Manchester London Road. These arrangements lead to disputes and petty rivalries. Manchester London Road is now known as Manchester Piccadilly.

As well as showing the railways themselves they also show their bricks-and-mortar property, as the railway companies often owned housing in the surrounding area.

The records are a great resource for genealogical research as the tenants and their rents are also listed and the owners of land adjacent to the railway. The collection also includes Books of Reference listing the landowners, whose land the railway companies bought.

Names of tenents

This map of the Yorkshire Dales shows an amazing level of detail and the shading used to delineate the topography of this hilly region almost makes the map seem to be in three dimensions. The proposed line, part of the North Eastern Railway, ran from Hawes. The scale of the terrain dwarfs the proposed railway line.

Hawes topography Yorkshire Dales

The land plans depict the spread of the railways spread across the English countryside where they faced opposition from wealthy landowners opposed to the railways crossing their estates. As the Great Central Railway was extended into Marylebone station in the late nineteenth century even the hallowed turf of Lord’s Cricket ground was threatened, raising outcry amongst cricket fans.

Lords Cricket Ground

Whilst many of these land plans are objects of art, beautifully drawn and tinted, they also offer a wealth of insights to how the railways were built. They show impact they had on the people who lived adjacent to the new railways and the widespread changes that they ushered into society at large.

Please contact search.engine@nrm.org.uk if you would like to come and look at these wonderful plans  – please note they are very large so we will need a few days notice prior to retrieval.

Find out more about Search Engine on our website.

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