Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Cataloguing Process

Okay this is not cataloguing in the strictest sense but the task of converting the one line of entry in the descriptive list of The Forsythe Collection into one sheet for each entry is making progress. A team of Graham Cornish (doing the donkeywork), myself and Tim Procter have now tackled about 40 of the 633 headings and December's date is scheduled. I was at the museum yesterday and my incidental gossip is limited to noting how the HST prototype power car had moved back to where it was in June. Since in September it had been right over the far side of the Great Hall, no-one should underplay what one imagines the heavy gang get up to the in dead of the night. Re-arranging the display with the frequency that this implies means undertaking some very detailed shunts. Quite fun to watch and photograph one I imagine. I was travelling East Coast the Monday after the Friday night before. In other words National Express East Coast was no more. Instead I was collecting the first issues of East Coast (by DOR or Directly Operated Railways) material. York was left on the 15.55, the 14.00 ex London Kings Cross to Aberdeen, the Aberdonian. Already this was a complete HST rake in the new Purple trim East Coast livery. Rather nice really. However, think about it, here was one of the crack trains of the day linking the two great capitals of the Island and it was a 31 year old HST train. Wonderful trains, yes, but what are we to make of state transport policy when from a 1919 start, it took till 1991 to get the wires to Edinburgh and still in 2009 they do not go beyond. The new livery East Coast train articulates the fact that Britain's premier main line has been in commercial chaos ever since Sea Containers owners of GNER went belly up in 2006. How the Japanese, the French, the Germans and even the Spanish will all smile knowingly at this situation.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Dust settling

Railway Magazine this month (December dated published 5th November) has a massive crop of NRM stories, the effect of which is that the dust is starting to settle from this summer and autumn's changes. I summarise them:
page 7 Steve Davies as new director
page 9 GBRf 66727 named Andrew Scott CBE
page 26 (SLS LNWR miniature Orion at Locomotion)
page 63 (Best ever Locomotion Steam Gala)
page 63 All change at the NRM
That is an important summary of staff changes. Brian Hayton is assisting Helen Ashby, as Assistant Director. Chris Beet - Carnforth associations is the new Engineering and Rail Operations Manager.
page 64 the NRM's own working replica of Rocket to return in steam in February 2010.

And away from York but of interest to all who follow heritage operations page 85 reported that Devon's Morwellham Quay has become insolvent. Pretty tragic news for those who appreciated industrial archaeology and associated railways. Withdrawal of local authority funding is the reason and drop of visitor numbers. This was one of the great early industrial open air museums on a par with Ironbridge or Beamish.

See http://www.morwellham-quay.co.uk/Latest_News/readmore.php?NewsId=16 .

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

A Curator's Life

A Curator's Life is at http://nrmcurator.blogspot.com/ . November is already starting with plenty to blog about for the NRM. The idea that we should blog about the National Railway Museum is gaining momentum. Now Anthony Coulls, following Paul Jarman's lead at Beamish, has started one. This should be very interesting as Anthony combines a fascinating background and a job with many aspects not least being the only NRM presence at Shildon. Additional note added October 2010: Anthony's blog is now at http://nationalrailwaymuseum.wordpress.com/ .

I have seen the future and it may be Dutch

(Above, good fun at Utrecht Railway Museum; below, the museum train the Heimwee Express in action. It stables in the former display area to the left)

A lot has happened to us this last week. We turned 50. For what we did see http://robertatforsythe.blogspot.com/2009/11/reached-50-and-reached-killhope-cross.html . Before that we went en famille to the Netherlands and to the Utrecht Railway Museum and Eurospoor. First time to the latter, breath-taking. Been to the railway museum in 1972 and 1981. Knew it had been entirely re-vamped. Very interesting to go again. Broadly in favour. Some surprise at how little there was in the old museum area but that was partly because it has become an operational station as we discovered by enjoying a train ride to Hilversum and back on a genuine Dogs Head EMU. Across the lines and into the new building is where it really happens. The actual display of trains appeared a bit ragged. Some favourites seemed missing. That is because the new core is four high tech chronologically themed pods. Once you get into these, you have an experience. We only had time to do two. There are queuing issues and this sort of interpretation is neither cheap to put in or maintain. However it is quite awesome. I would doubt there is any railway exhibition in the world in the genre of 1920-1970's pod, the Steel Monsters. It takes the form of a ghost train ride in four seater cars. A fair amount of terror is induced in a darkened trip which confronts trams and massive steam engines. You appear to hurtle to personal disaster before at the last moment descending into a pit and examining the underneath of the murdersome locomotive. For many folk great fun. Actually our daughter was somewhat alarmed at 9 1/2 and no overt warnings in English had been noticed. The leaflet said this particular display was entrancing. It is more than that. Away from the pods, I enjoyed the model gallery and the play area complete with self propelled ferry and pump trolley is right up there with the best. I would not be at all surprised if what has happened at Utrecht is at least considered in the thinking for what happens with NRM +. I think it fair to question whether your icons can only be experienced in such a programmed manner.

An appreciation of the new Director

The following piece is being circulated on a number of e-lists. It was sent to me and it offers an interesting and positive appreciation of the new director:

Hi All,

Just to inform you that it has now been officially announced by the National Railway Museum at York, here in England, that Steve Davies MBE, currently the director of the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, has been appointed the new Director of the NRM and will take up his position sometime in the New Year.

I believe that Steve in just 1 year, turned the slumbering giant that was MOSI, into a get up and go exciting museum to visit, and this was certainly proved by the success of the Great Garratt Gathering, the biggest event ever staged at MOSI, since it opened on that site in 1980.

I also know that from my brief time of knowing Steve and his love of railways, that he will certainly breathe new and exciting life into the NRM, whilst I am sure maintaining its core railway values.

I would like to congratulate Steve and wish him every success at the NRM

Graham Kelsey