Wednesday, 17 June 2009

In Front of the High Speed Train

This post concludes the day's action. Several posts have been made to cover the photoshoot that myself and Fiona participated in at the National Railway Museum on the 16th June 2009. This was to mark the "official handover" of The Forsythe Collection of Transport and Travel Publicity Ephemera to the museum. Several photographers were at work and a number of themes explored. Of the various images that came our way, this is our current favourite. It is a National Railway Museum copyright image which I reproduce with acknowledgements to the museum. We thank the photographer Lynn Patrick. The prototype High Speed Train is an iconic British design from the early 1970s. The production trains remain hard at work today. Our collection is rich in material relating to both the prototype and production trains. One of those early pieces is in our hands. We hope the photo does credit to the various parties involved and that is certainly not to forget the creators of the train and those unsung heroes who produced its publicity.
If you read these posts and are interested in following the story, this photo should only be reproduced with permission from the NRM: . She will be the link person to numerous other pictures that their photographer took on the day. These included images in the store, of us with a Caledonian Princess piece and with a Macbraynes brochure.

You can target almost anywhere in the British Isles and we will find something punchy from the collection to tempt. There is particular strength however, owing to moves and family associations and other collections that have come in, with:
the Dover strait, the Bristol Channel area, North Wales, the Irish Sea and Mersey, Isle of Man, Ireland, Scotland, Northern England, Yorkshire Dales, Cumbria, the Fens and East Anglia.

Because of the Institute of Railway Studies Harwich project and the links the NRM has developed with NedRail in Holland also bear in mind there is very strong material, several files worth going back into the 1920s for Harwich and Holland.

NRM Text of Press Release regarding The Forsythe Collection issued 16th June 2009


Transport curator Robert Forsythe and his librarian wife Fiona officially hand over their collection, one of the most comprehensive private collections of transport history in Britain, to the National Railway Museum. They pose with their favourite item, an eye-catching leaflet about the Caledonian Princess which has a special significance for the couple as the steam ship was built in the Dumbarton shipyard where they first met.
Tuesday, 16 June, 11 am
National Railway Museum, Leeman Road, York, YO26 4XJ
Catherine Farrell, Senior Press Officer, NRM on 01904 686281 or e-mail


The National Railway Museum (NRM) is celebrating the acquisition of one of the most comprehensive private collections of transport history in Britain.

The Forsythe Collection of Travel & Transport Publicity Ephemera focuses on transport publicity particularly that of the nationalised railway from 1948, but also covers bus, air and water transport in the second half of the 20th century.

This vast collection which consists of more than 125,000 items of railway and other transport ephemera is now housed in Search Engine, the NRM’s £4million research and archive centre where Museum staff are now busy working on making it available to the public.

The story of the railways, from the pre- Beeching era through to the current day is told through a variety of publicity materials including timetables, handbills and brochures. The collection includes gems such as the only booklet British Rail produced specifically for women which proves particularly amusing reading to modern eyes, and a large volume of GNER-related material.

Robert Forsythe, who has a lifelong interest in transport history, also gathered material from across the shipping and tourism industries including Stena Sealink timetables, London Transport Bus maps and catalogues from well-known coach tour operators such as Shearings and Wallace Arnold.

His wife, Fiona, has been key in sorting and organising the collection, which is now occupying 18 bays (around 108 metres) of shelving at the NRM. A chartered librarian from a railway family, she has been aware of the importance of the transport network to people’s lives from an early age and joined forces with Robert in the crusade to save the paper records that the public – and often the companies themselves – tended to throw away.

The couple met at Denny’s, the Dumbarton shipyard which made so many of the vessels depicted in the sea transport section of the collection, including the BR owned Caledonian Princess steam ship, a key part of the Scotland Ireland transport network from 1961.

The Forsythe collection is highly regarded as key resource by historians.
Helen Ashby, Head of Knowledge and Collections at the NRM explained: “This is a key collection for anyone interested in transport and we’re delighted that people will be able to access it at the National Railway Museum where it can be used to find the answer to questions such as ‘What do we mean by integrated public transport?’ Given the wide range of publicity material within the collection, it would also appeal to anyone with a fascination for graphic design or advertising.”

Tim Procter, Curator of Archive & Library Collections at the NRM added: “The Forsythes have been building this renowned collection for years - it has been a real labour of love. At one point they had upwards of 625 binders stored on shelves and in cupboards in their 3 bed Northumberland family home! Now this fantastic treasure trove of transport history can be accessed by the public, and in the year ahead we will be working hard to make the archive even easier to use.”

For more information, please contact:
Catherine Farrell, Senior Press Officer, NRM
01904 686281

Notes to editors:

· Robert Forsythe has worked freelance in this sector since 1990 as an author and consultant. Fiona Forsythe also now works freelance in the cultural sector having latterly been Head of Library Services at Newcastle College. Further information is at

· Key items in the ‘Forsythe collection include handbills/leaflets relating to:
The Caledonian Princess Steam Ship
The 1966 World Cup
The Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales
The 1953 Coronation
The 1968 end of steam on British Railways
The Start of Hovercraft services from the South Coast
Classic Pullman trains like The Golden Arrow and the Brighton Belle
The take up of Sealink vessels for the Falkland’s war

· Search Engine is a groundbreaking library, archive and research centre at the NRM.

· Search Engine is a £4million project funded by Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Friends of the National Railway Museum.

· Search Engine’s archives include ‘hidden treasures’ e.g. works of art, railway posters, film, photography and sound recordings, engineering drawings and archive documents such as letters and diaries.

The National Railway Museum in York is home to over 300 years of railway history including over 100 locomotives and a million other objects - from posters and tickets to rolling stock and silverware. Visitors can enjoy a free family day out with the kids including an action-packed annual programme of special events and exhibitions. For more information visit

The Hayward Collection

In this blog on the 23rd April we wrote "Yet another fascinating file recorded a long running correspondence of John Scholes. This was in Clapham Correspondence Files File 15 Railway Museum Correspondence Box 43. In it over many years (1953-67) was a discussion about the Hayward Papers and Collection. This was clearly a major collection of interest to students of publicity ephemera and timetables. There was mention of 18,000 items. I ran out of time and was unable to ascertain whether this material had eventually made it to the museum for safekeeping. Something more to investigate." During our discussions on the 16th June for the Forsythe Collection photocall Tim Procter (the museum archivist) was able to say some of this material which in the 1960s it had appeared was intended to come to the British Transport Commission collections did indeed do so. He had come across items in the NRM collection stamped Hayward collection. This is a positive lead and as someone who knows what it is to create one's own collection there is an interest in learning more about Mr Hayward and offering him some little memorial to his similar endeavours to ours but many decades previously. Hopefully I shall be able to return to "File 15 Box 43" and note it more intensely. But out in the wider world there must be someone able to say more about Mr Hayward? If you know anything, please make a comment.

Press Launch for the Forsythe Collection at National Railway Museum York

Myself and Fiona spent the 16th June 2009 with Tim Procter Archivist at the NRM, other members of his staff and Mr Graham Cornish museum volunteer undertaking a press call. Three newspapers, a radio station and the museum photographer was the score. Here are some links (added to as they came in): (for Monday 22nd June 2009)

An on line interview and profile conducted last year can be found at:

And thanks to the helpfulness of Mr Michael Cowling of The Yorkshire Post I can add the lower heading photo with both myself and Fiona with the collection in the secure store.

It was very nice to be photographed in front of the prototype HST. The collection is rich in material about this train and its production siblings and the top photo should make the point. This one was on our camera this time.

The Faverdale Exhibition 1925

A brief note. I was in the Search Engine at NRM York 16.06.09 and had the Faverdale Exhibition catalogue 1925 and also the LPC account of the 1925 S&D Railway Cavalcade to look at. In neither could I find any reference to the Weardale Coach Rob Roy (see previous posts to make sense of this). This means at present we only know about the arrival of the coach at the old York Railway Museum through the photographs and the horn for which minuted references are known (see earlier posts). A considerable mystery attends both the exact date of arrival and departure after several decades of this not inconsequential exhibit. The museum has gone out of its way to "rediscover" what has been noted in this blog and at this point, without a further major lead appearing, I propose to close the subject. If you have anything to add, please do so with a comment here.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

The end of the Weardale Coach

Helen Ashby at the NRM and her team have found a further image. It is in fact another print of the image shown previously in the blog which John Askwith had once procured from British Railways. Where the interest comes is in some notes with the print. The print has a reference number Neg. no. 8532. The print is mounted on a BR87950 form on which is written: "Old Passenger Coach before Railways. Outside Darlington Works prior to removal to York Railway Museum. Burnt circa 1964 due to being riddled with woodworm". That destruction was as late as 1964, if this is accurate, is quite interesting. Some eight years after we know it had been dropped out of the museum catalogue. Conceivably the date is a bit out. What should be born in mind is that the Rolvenden coach undertaking the same conceptual task had been fully restored by then in the BTC collection.

Additional note from my bibilography: Between the Lines: The magazine of the Weardale Railway Society - August 2010: The Weardale Coach. The saga was written up there.

Note of 25th May 2011. I learn that the Weardale Motor Services Leyland Titan KPT 909 is at the Science Museum Store Wroughton having been at the British Commercial Vehicle Museum, Leyland. How fascinating that the same museum institution has ended up caring for two "buses" from Weardale. The motor bus seems in good order. I hope it stays that way.

I do a talk about Weardale and its Titans. For the next outing the horse coach will be added.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Team NRM deliver photographs of the Weardale Coach

Thanks to Helen Ashby and her team at the National Railway Museum, some very definite progress in memorialising the Weardale Coach Roy Roy can be reported. The story so far is in previous posts. John Askwith from the Weardale Railway came up with the first picture I had seen. Now the NRM have provided four more picture scans of additional images. Two are in the post here. One is of the horn. I quote Helen " we can now confirm that it was part of the Queen Street Collection and was numbered 2323/57Y. It was purple ticked in the ledger which suggests that it was identified for the new National Railway Museum but unfortunately we have been unable to establish what happened to it after the closure of the old York RailwayMuseum".
This means that the likely score is: the actual coach destroyed owing to woodworm c1956. The horn that was also donated and accessioned was in York c1975. It may well be there yet but not quite appreciated for what it is. The photo reproduced is a BTC picture (their name is in it). There was then the matter of the photographs donated to the infant York Museum before the coach arrived. It is my hunch that the three further images York have found could be these. One is reproduced. The other two show an earlier image (by the clothing) and a colour tinted postcard probably from the first two decades of the 20th century. It may be that this imagery can be reproduced in the Weardale Railway's magazine. It is all NRM imagery.
The story ahead? For the Weardale Coach, we may perhaps not unearth much more. Getting to a copy of a Faverdale Exhibition guide could reveal more and will be undertaken when I find myself in the NRM with time on my side. Seeing if a summing up magazine feature could appear makes sense.
For ourselves, we need to focus back on the Forsythe Collection at York. Both Fiona and myself should be there next Tuesday for a photoshoot in connection with a press release about the transfer of the Forsythe Collection.