This blog has started out of the ether; well, almost. I did a search on National Railway Museum blog and although I could find some individuals who posted something about the NRM York, I could find nothing that represented a blog about the museum. If I have that wrong, please tell me. So why does it need a blog? I have several angles on that. In my past I have been a professional museum curator and my wife a librarian. We have "used" the NRM in the sense of visiting and undertaking occasional research. We know some of the curatorial team. We read the magazines in the railway heritage world and we read very good reports about the museum and some complaints. Over the last year or so, our encounter with the museum has become rather closer. http://robertatforsythe.blogspot.com/2009/02/forsythe-collection-has-moved-to-york.html explains this. Over many years we had created a vast collection of travel and transport publicity ephemera which, naturally, became far too large for a semi. We are talking about 275 shelf feet of material. Happily the Museum saw the importance of this material and earlier in 2009, we were able to part with the collection and it has been relocated to the Search Engine at York. We anticipate in the future that an amount of our working lives will be spent in that facility working on that material although it is no longer "ours". The whole process of agreeing the transfer took a couple of years. Fortunately we had not died so everyone had time on their side but the experience opened up to us reading about many of the debates that the NRM finds itself in. We wonder whether a blog would be the place in which some of this chat could take place. Have we asked the NRM about this or sought their approval? No, we have not. That would be to undermine the point of a blog. This is my blog and I will welcome other contributions though they will be moderated. I have immense respect for the task that the NRM undertakes especially when balanced to the resources available. Good criticism has to balance the wish list against the attainable.
Here are some throughts about the diverse range of subjects that could be commented on: the debate about the Flying Scotsman restoration is a live one at the moment even down to what colour it should carry or whether vacuum brakes should be fitted. The latter is a technical matter with implications about where it can work. Search Engine is the new and major archive facility. Users experiences and feedback could be interesting. The museum has major plans for the redisplay of the main hall and for an involvement in what is called The Railway Lands west of the present site. Something I have always found a bit challenging is to know who does what at the museum. As an outsider it is often a struggle to sort this out. Personally, I would challenge the museum to publish on their website a clear structure plan with individuals named. A little bit of research I am about to undertake concerns an artefact called The Weardale Coach. This worked near where we live between Stanhope and Cowshill before the railway reached Wearhead. So in the 1862-1895 period. It has been a struggle to convince folk that this artefact ever reached the museum. But it did and was certainly there 1948-1952 and maybe for a lot longer. This was the old York Railway Museum as created by the LNER. With developments like Locomotion at Shildon and the Weardale Railway, knowing a bit more about this coach would be fascinating. Another subject for blogging could be about museum events.
Now whether any of this will take off, I know not. If you do wish to make a comment, add it to this post. If you wish to post something substantive, email me copy and I will put it up so long as I can see the sense of it. Yes, I am going to moderate this, even if this means no one participates. I have no wish for this blog to be knocking the institution pointlessly or stupidly. Constructive criticism, debate and praise is my style. I did not do two theology degrees for nothing. If relevant people either from the museum or outside can convince me that they wish to contribute to the blog regularly, a request to me may expand the blogging team.