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Newsletter no. 11 from our Archive and Research team at the Museum.

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Archives Conference - Railways and Warfare

Saturday 10 September 2016

This year's National Railway Museum Archives conference will take place on Saturday 10 September 2016, on the theme of railways and warfare.

Papers from former Ambulance Train Commander Brian Robertson and Aberdeen MA student Jeremy Higgins will explore the history of ambulance trains and examine how effective they were during the Somme. Former IRS student Anne Mallery will look at how the railways portrayed the thousands of women who came to work for them, while Brian Curtin will examine the military role of Irish Railways from 1919 to 1922. Matthew Scott, a geography PhD, will then look at the Baghdad Railway in the light of British fears over Germany's war aims. The full programme will be confirmed soon, but this promises to be one of our most revealing and intriguing conferences yet!

Tickets cost just £25 (£20 for Friends of the NRM) including lunch and refreshments.

Find out more about the seminar and book now.


Ambulance Trains: a forgotten First World War story

From 7 July 2016

Our new exhibition tells the forgotten story of the ambulance trains used to evacuate sick and injured troops on an unprecedented scale during the First World War. Step on board one of these carriages to discover the experiences of the passengers, and the medical staff who cared for them under extraordinary circumstances. Explore a rich treasure trove of photographs, technical drawings and diaries to uncover the moving stories of some of the millions who travelled on board, as well as the railway staff who built the trains at incredible speed.

A series of free talks by curators, experts and descendants of ambulance train staff will delve even deeper into this fascinating subject, and a special exhibition trail will be available for families.

Find out more


Other railway seminars and conferences

IRS Seminar

The next Institute of Railways seminar will be held on the 15 June and will feature talks from former IRS student Anne Mallery, who is exploring the relationships between women, railway and religion in the late nineteenth century. Her talk will focus on the work of women in the Railway Mission and how they found ways to break through male dominated railway culture to take religion to the vast numbers of men employed in the railway industry of late Victorian Britain.

The second talk will be by Associate Archivist Alison Kay on the research she has done which has underpinned the forthcoming Ambulance Train exhibition.

The seminar is free but ticketed. For tickets, click here.


New Uses for Old Railways International Meeting

This is an international meeting to discuss the challenges and opportunities of new uses for old railways, and especially closed rail tracks. It intends to look for new experiences as well as to discuss existing practices and policies.

The registration fee for this event is £55 and includes documentation, a pendrive with digital copies of the two books and three documentaries, plus lunch, refreshments and parking at the museum.

For more information and to book your ticket, please click here.


Filming the Coronation Scot, 1937

When reading about the LMS Coronation Class locomotives, few documents mention the filming of the first of its class, No. 6220 Coronation, shortly after its release from Crewe works. This took place on the 13th June 1937, between Colwyn Bay and Llandudno Junction. No.6220 pulled the Coronation Scot train, and was accompanied along the tracks with the recently retired George Fifth Class No. 25348 Coronation and the Liverpool and Manchester Railway's Lion locomotive. This marked the beginning of a cinema career for Lion as she would become the star of The Titfield Thunderbolt in the 1950s.

The filming on that day was used for the LMS film The Coronation Scot featuring the construction of the Coronation Class at Crewe works and the first runs of No.6220 leading the Coronation Scot train. In our film collection, along with copies of the LMS film, we also hold a film made by an individual on the 13 June 1937. These images were shot in parallel with the official filming, in a personal capacity by one of Fox Photos' employees on the set at the time, either Ernest Beavor or Frederick Morley. Playing the part of a "making-of" with a slightly different angle, this footage shows behind the scenes. While in the official film the camera stays unseen, the non-official footage reveals camera and cameramen travelling on another set of tracks beside the three locomotives and trains. This gives a rare glimpse into the mechanics of making a railway film in the 1930s and is a highlight of our collection.


New acquisition: the photographs of Dr John Coiley

John Coiley photographic collection

We have recently acquired the photographs of Dr John Coiley, the first Keeper of the National Railway Museum. Dr Coiley was an accomplished photographer and member of the Railway Photographic Society. There are around 19,000 images in the Coiley collection covering railways in Britain, Europe and North America, between they years 1954 to 1997. In addition, it includes excellent coverage of the history of the museum itself, with photographs of vehicles, exhibitions and events.

In order to make this useful collection available to researchers we are looking for volunteers to help us with image listing and sorting. If this sounds like it might be of interest, please get in touch and we will send you out further details.


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Background: Suitcase with railway luggage labels