Sunday, 25 September 2011

At Shildon to see Hogwarts and Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Railway 85 of 1954 is nowadays a Welshpool and Llanfair engine but for the Shildon Steam Gala she appeared in County Durham (arrived April 2011 for a five year loan as boiler ticket expired). Here she is outside Locomotion on 24th September 2011 and her simple good looks allied to the "something different" appeal was bound to interest. So did seeing Hogwarts Castle/Olton Hall in steam and reflecting how that mixed identity has caused model manufacturers no end of conumdrums. It was a great show and Anthony Coulls who took time out for a brief word had done a really good job.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Gresley LNER A4s may come back from the Americas

This press release is on the York press release site. Hitherto I had decided not to comment on this particular thread but since there is now a press release I share it with my readers:

Statement from National Railway Museum Director

12 Aug 2011

In response to recent speculation about the repatriation of two A4 class locomotives from the USA and Canada, Steve Davies, Director of the National Railway Museum, has released the following statement.

"It has come to my attention that some news of a proposal to repatriate two A4 Class locomotives from the USA and Canada has reached elements of the railway press from a non-official source. Although I am disappointed that the National Railway Museum has not been able fully to control the release of this news, I am nevertheless keen to minimise inaccurate speculation."

"It is true that the NRM has been in negotiations for the last six months with the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Exporail, the Canadian Railway Museum in Montreal, with a view to repatriating Dwight D Eisenhower and Dominion of Canada respectively, as part of the celebrations to commemorate the 75th anniversary in 2013 of Mallard’s record-breaking run. The visit of a specialist team is in progress and a mutual decision will be taken, in conjunction with our trans-Atlantic colleagues, if the loans are considered a practical proposition."

"At this stage, absolutely nothing has been agreed. Fundraising to make this happen will be a principal challenge."

"I cannot emphasise strongly enough that this is a loan proposal and will emphatically not result in the permanent repatriation of either or both of these locomotives. This has been explicit in our negotiations from the outset and I am most grateful that our colleagues in the United States and Canada have so far shared this exciting vision with us."

"In the meantime, I would appreciate the minimising of speculation if that is at all possible."

Steve Davies
Director, National Railway Museum

Flying Scotsman

I find finding news about 4472 Flying Scotsman's repairs at Ian Riley's Bury workshop a bit challenging. And since it is pretty disappointing I have tended not to highlight it in the blog. However I read this "Unfortunately, more cracks had been discovered in the main frame stretcher, which requires the boiler to be lifted out of the frames. This latest setback means that Flying Scotsman won't be back in steam until April 2012. Also, the National Railway Museum has banned photography of Flying Scotsman as a result of these setbacks." Comments?
The actual Wiki entry made no mention of the subject at all as I wrote.

Later today Wednesday I find this:
in the Iconic Aircraft Aviation Forum dated Monday September 19th by 34053 "just when you thought that it could not get any worse:

Latest News is that Scotsman's Boiler is to be lifted off the Frames! The main 'Frame Stretcher' (the horizontal steel sections that hold the two sides of the Frames apart) has got to be replaced, due to serious cracks (!) having been detected. These stretchers weigh about half a ton and it was considered 'easier and more economical' to replace it, rather than trying to carry out a repair job. The saga continues!"

After a media call at Bury on the 30th September more news is available. An example of the reportage giving a good overview comes from Railway Magazine.

Monday, 29 August 2011

My August bank holiday weekend

My bank holiday weekend encountered some aspects of the National Railway Museum's outreach. This summer our family efforts have been centred on commissioning Clare's new bedroom. That project in turn is directly related to the freeing up of space when the NRM purchased our collection in 2009. No grand summer holiday then. Instead some interesting days out which have included the Aysgarth Bus Rally (we enjoyed going there but it does help to have some buses), Goats on the Roof at Fontburn Reservoir (photos of these are in Facebook albums) and so to this weekend. It became clear that four interesting days on the trot could be arranged (and if you start with Thursday last that added a walk with our MP Guy Opperman from Newcastle to Heddon along the Hadrian's Wall Path).

The Saturday attraction was Railex NE at North Shields. This was the erstwhile Blyth Model Railway Exhibition relocated in time and space. I attend these exhibitions intermittently. I think my last was Perth Green in the spring. Railex NE was excellent and as the photo shows next year's is already booked. Both the model railways and stands provided compelling material. I liked the South African set up populated with the products of Lima and DJH. Numerous North Eastern themed layouts offered working coal loading installations, a NER Petrol Electric Railcar and a Harton electric. My interest in the offbeat was well sustained down to a Southern Region Drewry Railcar and a layout called Annascaul full of working Worsley Works products. Four hours were spent at the exhibition and by my standards that is a lot. I came away with two keynote recent pieces of scholarship and something I had not anticipated buying at all. On North Road Train's stall was a RTR South Tyneside 2 car BR Eastleigh built EMU and at a price somewhat cheaper than the new Bachmann 2 EPB. This was an excellent and original buy from someone who patronises the obscure. It combined Replica and Hornby components.

So to Sunday. The whole weekend had for many months been billed as Stainmore 150. The anniversary of the opening of the South Durham and Lancashire Union Railway in 1861. As can be seen from the traffic on the adjacent A66 this is a prime example of a railway line that should never have been closed. One must hope that (probably long after I am dead) its full restoration comes about. However a start has been made and here the NRM comes into the story. Both at Warcop and at Kirby Stephen East two groups are working on the former route. They are on talking terms and the Eden Valley project from Warcop was an exhibitor. The Stainmore Railway Company at Kirkby Stephen East with the help of lottery money has done an outstanding job at restoring this wonderful NER overall roofed station from utter decay. In fact along with the S&C and the regeneration of Kirby Stephen West and the Northern Viaducts Trust not to forget Cumbria Classic Coaches , Kirkby Stephen is a hotbed for transport preservationists. These various organisations had all come together to put on a splendid three day show which would see the first steam passenger trains leave Kirkby Stephen East since 1961.

The NRM contributed its director Colonel Steve Davies OBE who opened the proceedings and also participated in the unveiling of the new sign at the summit on Saturday. Also from the NRM collection came NER 910 a Fletcher 2-4-0 a former stalwart of the original York Railway Museum which class worked on the line. Two vehicles associated with Beamish and /or NRM Locomotion at Shildon were present each with connections. These were the LNER J21 and an NER Clerestorey coach 3071. Sat in the platform they were very convincing.

If you like me grew up with British Transport Films then Snowdrift at Bleath Gill will be etched on the psyche. It was quite tearjerking to realise that one of the actual ploughs and one of the engines 78019 which was a Kirkby Stephen engine have been fully restored. Both were present and 78019 was proudly heading two BR Mark Ones. I hope the photos suggest that the time warp was pretty effective.

I love Mark Ones (and their models). Fiona and I have had many romantic moments in their compartments and we had one more.

Once we left the celebrations we could not resist driving the appalling lanes to Smardale (hope they build the line back there next) and then walking to and across the NER viaduct. What a feast of industrial archaeology and wildlife is in that valley: two huge viaducts, an old railway and limekilns.

It was then the drive to mother in law for Sunday night at Castle Douglas. Monday meant coming home on my own for work. Even that took on an edge. The 100 miles back to Prudhoe can be very easily and cheaply undertaken by public transport. The 0935 X75 from Castle Douglas goes through to Carlisle whence the hourly train continues to Prudhoe for about £16.50. This time as I wandered through Carlisle from bus to train station I espied the Hadrian's Wall Bus AD122 an Optare Solo of Alba Coaches awaiting to start for Hexham at 1155.

At numerous times my life has connected up with AD122 and it seemed a good day for another journey which ultimately led me to the 10 of Go North East at Hexham and so an all bus return.

Now Tueday morning.........................The Royal Society of St George at Shepherd's Dene.

Friday, 12 August 2011

A National Museum closes its library.

This link relates to an important story from the British Museum. The imminent closure of its Paul Hamlyn library. In addition to the subject being of considerable inherent importance I noted the concern being expressed about a failure to deal with correspondence. What is it National Museum directors have against replying to letters? I am aware of at least two other recent instances that I can verify. One is here.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

The Man in Seat 61 and timetables

The Man in Seat 61's book is on our shelves and has been used to aid our European travels. Of course the Forsythe Collection at York is packed with European railway timetables and material produced by the British Railways departments concerned with cross channel travel. Now The Man in Seat 61 is the topic of this September's Railway Magazine interview. How fascinating it is. One man has privately taken over the role of a British Rail department. Doubtless some advocates of privatisation and removal of wasteful spend will applaud although my conclusion is somewhat oversimplified. Actually DB Rail and the French Railways have been two of the bigger beneficiaries of this process. The article includes this telling quote "Britain, where train operators often seem reluctant to fully co-operate with each other in terms of information and connections". Yes, what a struggle it is to work out a journey compared with the mid 1980s. In getting to the Tom Rolt symposium which has NRM involvement at Tywyn this year I shall have to confront the vagaries of a long cross country journey by train into Wales. Something I have not done in decades. I have already discovered that The Corbett Arms in Tywyn is not what it was. Thankfully it appears nicer alternatives do exist. To plan my journey I have finally given up on the printed timetable. I do have the full PDF version and I shall next Monday go and see my friends at Chester Le Track who we rely on to fix our long distance train travel nowadays. I shall be taking nearly a ton's worth of smackers in rail vouchers delivered by East Coast in exchange for the last cock up they made when I ventured out on a long distance rail journey. The same Railway Magazine throws out on p10 the prospect that the new ERTMS signalling on the Cambrian is far from what it should be. I hope I come back in one piece.

Friday, 22 July 2011

NRM Engines see the Light of Day

Nice article about NRM engines seeing light of day by Anthony Coulls in 391.

That's a tweet of mine about an article just published with the title NRM Engines see the Light of Day. For brief updates my Facebook and Twitter accounts can be subscribed too. In fact this issue of Steam Railway has a lot of NRM content both up and down. The latter includes a report of a 16% visitor figure drop and the frames of 4472. Hopefully the work being undertaken in moving exhibits as described my Mr Coulls will help draw more visitors. Also in the good news tray is the story about Shannon. A conservation plan is now in place and the financial appeal is half way there.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Where will Mallard be this summer?

I tend to find myself asking as many questions as offering answers.

A URL I chanced by in connection with the Top Gear post set my brain off.

Here the NRM announced that Mallard would be in Germany July to October.

Here the story is that Mallard moves tomorrow Tuesday 19th July 2011 back to York. And then "Mallard will be placed on the turntable from 22 July until 1st August. After this it will take its place back in the main hall, up until 4 September 2011".

So two reasons to blog now. Mallard is back on the main line tomorrow. But what happens then? Is Mallard going to Germany or is she on display in York for the summer?

A little bit further on in time. The answer is definitely York. What happened to Germany and why the announcement about that is still live on the NRM site today is an open question.

Top Gear and the National Railway Museum

Many might have wondered how I could link the two agencies in my header! Equally as many will realise this happened on the 17th July 2011 as will show. That link is to i-player and it will not be live for ever I guess. This is episode 4 of series 17. In the railway enthusiast media this had been trailed and I knew that the Great Central Railway had been visited by a film crew. The result is certainly entertaining and funny. One wonders how many dispensations from the rulebook and Health and Safety had had to be requested in order to undertake these rip roaring antics? The surprise came when the passengers arrived (not overmany of them). They were "top officials and inspectors from the railway world". Fronting the guest list were the museum's Colonel Steve Davies and Helen Ashby who were introduced by name before the cameras although at no stage was any mention of the National Railway Museum made so I guess this was something undertaken in their own time?

A piece of priceless entertainment which I recommend you to watch. The connection with the header photo? The storyline was rather to the effect that the Top Gear team had made this sensational discovery that you can put cars on rails. And then they discovered some of the shortcomings like adhesion. I hope that privately our friends from the museum were able to point out that there is a considerable history of road vehicles on rails (and even of model vehicles of the same like Brawa VW vans). Doubtless the history might have spoiled the plot but I can remind readers of this with a picture from 1985 of myself at Abreschviller in the Vosges with just such an inspection car. An antique if there ever was one.

This is not the first time Top Gear has gone loco. The Race to the North was arguably much more substantial. James May has also determinedly endorsed model railways with his double attempt to run OO trains from Barnstaple to Bideford and a model railway appearing in his lad's workshop.

Added 4th August, Railway Magazine's editorial in their September issue revealed that the editor Nick Pigott had been another one of the passengers and complained rather clearly about the lack of credits.

Friday, 15 July 2011


Now that some two and a third years have passed since I started this blog, new readers may wish to be reminded of what was said at the start. That sets out the context of this blog and just to re-iterate this is a blog of personal reflections of someone who is a user/consumer of the museum who also is connected through the transfer of about 275 feet of shelved material The Forsythe Collection of Travel and Transport Publicity Ephemera. That took place in January 2009. The author is independent of the museum and feels free to both criticise and praise.

Don't miss L T C Rolt Symposium at Tywyn/Towyn

This email from Colin Divall about
the L T C Rolt Symposium, Tywyn 14-15 October got my attention. The event is likely to be a sell out. I hurried away and sent a cheque.

"Ditherers might like to know that we are only 8 places away from filling the room for this event. Registrations will be dealt with on a strictly first-come, first-served basis!"

The NRM through the Institute of Railway Studies and the Talyllyn Railway are joint organisers.

Lots of Talyllyn material is in the Forsythe Collection at York. You should certainly be able to find these from 1957 onwards.

A new strategy for interpretation

In the light of the failure of the NRM+ funding bid, is it possible to outline a different conceptual manner for developing interpretation at the NRM? On the 5th May 2011 I emailed the museum director with the substance of what follows. I now have his reply to the effect that this is not an issue for discussion. What do my readers think?

Originally the core of what follows was something that I put to Andrew Scott (the then director) in some detail probably about 1997 (it would need some digging out). The issue of the narrative and of utilising other exhibits apart from the rolling stock was well and truly alive then. My take on how to do this has always been a bit different. I am inherently suspicious of block buster interpretation projects. They jam up the ordinary life of a museum, eventually they get delivered (though the cost of the varied attempts to assemble a package may easily be forgotten, who remembers the Rapid City proposal for the NRM?). They are then flavour of the month for quite some while until the whole entity starts to look tired. It becomes a huge version of stop start.

I proposed to Andrew Scott an entirely different method of doing this. It was incremental. It said something like identify 10 core threads. Locate the space. If necessary build or convert a structure as the house. But then install the story gradually. Take 10 years to do it. Spread the cost. Ensure there is a new element each year. Balance the demands on preparing the exhibition with the staff resources available. Avoid a massive fund raising burst which if it did not deliver crashed. But build up the expertise of the team who delivered on the subject. This means really tapping into knowledge rather than consultant froth and haste. The Ferry Tales exhibition of 2010 struck me as executed in haste.

And after 10 years, element 1 of 10 would probably look tired. So retaining the team, redo it, find new artefacts to tell a similar story. The result would be something ever changing and alive and developing the in house skill base and knowledge. And I would have thought easier to fund than the splurge approach.

And if it meant that the sense of worship and cathedral atmosphere of the Great Hall was not tampered with, I would not be sad.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Flying Scotsman delay

Seen via Twitter today
"Just announced that Flying Scotsman unfortunately won't be here August as hoped. But still on display later this year" There are problems with the frames and the press release includes a full explanation and statement from Steve Davies. (RNF something of a different news thread to the other British news of the day).

Also see Yorkshire Post, Heritage Railway.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Hidden Railway Art Goes on Show at the NRM

A large tranche of the museum's superb image collection is being displayed in a new gallery which will complete in July.

A BBC story with a link to a matched programme which will air this Saturday 26th June is here. This story is surely good news after a period in which news has been mixed. If an invite to the launch is forthcoming I will look forward to reviewing the new gallery in the blog.

Saturday, 4 June 2011



I have recently returned from a tour of inspection of timetable issuing practice in Luxembourg and what was found was surprisingly pleasing.

En route at Brussels Midi, SNCB practice since I was last there in 2008 was not much different. The intercity and foreign timetables were readily on display. Others not so. Nor was obtaining Eurostar timetable leaflets that obvious although ultimately a printed A4 sheet was produced. Eurostar appeared as coy back at home.

But in Luxembourg it was refreshing to find well designed attractive print flourishing. I can particularly recommend the ladies at Luxembourg Gare. They were very helpful and there were masses of information available in front of and behind the counters.

The core levels of issue were thus:
CFL Rail, individual route leaflets. For 2 Euro a set is sold along with a route map packaged as if they were playing cards in a box. Rather clever.

CFL National bus including private companies. A grand loose leaf timetable rather like the old WYPTE once did. 4 Euro or 6 Euro with chasseur (specially printed binder). The system for a place the size of Suffolk is dense.

Luxembourg City
Detailed route leaflets readily to hand. Also a bound paperback volume which was 2 Euro.

Other leaflets for preserved railways, Moselle tripboats were available. City Sightseeing had a leaflet but not obviously for the amazing route of the Petrusse Express tractor train. Their office was not adorned in leaflets and nor were the vehicles, as distinct from British practice.

At Apach which is a frontier station on the SNCF/DB border near Schengen, freight services were regular. Passenger trains were much more sparse but the waiting room was open and a selection of local SNCF timetables available.

I can whole heartedly recommend Train 1900 which is Luxembourg's premier preserved train operation. Comes with nice leaflets and guidebooks but not in English.

My Facebook albums now show a few photos and some links to a friend's album.

I had booked two first class returns from Newcastle to Luxembourg using the SNCB route (you could have gone all SNCF) for £683 through Trains Europe at March (have BR family railcard). This was one adult and an 11 year old. Just for fun I tried to re-price it all on line today with Rail Europe, Eurostar and DB sites. I found the first two practically impossible to use for this journey (even selecting first class did not strike me as easy, let alone saying I had a railcard for the British leg). The DB webpage was much more organised and quickly produced the correct times. But when asked for a fare said I had to phone up!

A challenge to the readers, could I have priced this journey on line?

An English version of an SNCB Buy your International Train Tickets leaflet bemoaned that European competition legislation was putting their ticket sales operation under pressure. A re-run of how BRI came to an end in the mid 1990s? It does seem very sad that European rail travel is far more difficult to arrange than it used to be.

Yet the journey was far easier. Out of Newcastle at 0825, into Luxembourg at 1940 on time. Back at 1024, and into Newcastle at about 1950 and that was an hour late after multiple cable thefts on the ECML. Going to Luxembourg by train is speedy and practical with only two changes. And there are route choices. Working it out is the problem. Do turn to The Man in Seat 61 for some help. And you could have travelled Basel to Aberdeen with the trains we used. The 1024 at Luxembourg was the 0646 Jean Monet Basel to Brussels. The 1600 from Kings Cross is an Aberdeen service. Really long train journeys across Europe from GB with only two changes in total and effectively no change of stations are possible. An interesting challenge would be what is the longest European rail journey possible in one day with only two train changes one of which has to be Kings Cross/St Pancras complex and the other has to be within a station (could be just St Pancras but for length you would have be on the ECML and no Paris cross station transfer permitted)? These are my terms and there is no prize save for a 10% discount on your next Specialist Auctions timetable orders from my listings.

As for the NRM, in addition to the thought that the arisings might end up with the Forsythe Collection, at about 0920 on Tuesday we passed Flying Scotsman in its wartime black garb stabled outside the NRM and managing to look very smart.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

4472 is back

Today 4472 is back. I awoke on the first day of half term to a Radio 4 Today story about what is this great day. After five years of restoration, 4472 is back on display in the NRM and will shortly be in action once again. This is great news for the museum and for everyone who loves railways. Yesterday before an invited audience, the restored engine was unveiled. Today as part of the half term programme, the general public get to see her.

The NRM's own website contains full details of all the events planned and also a number of associated goodies like models that have been commissioned. The models just now don't appear too obvious on the website. I think they soon will be. The museum has however sent me this information:
"The National Railway Museum shop has a limited offer on Hornby Special Edition Flying Scotsman 00 gauge working
models, DCC ready. There will be:

500x Wartime black livery available with certificate, £149 each
1000x Apple green livery available with certificate, £146 each

Don't miss out. Visit the museum and pre-order your model at the shop from 28 May or online from 1 June. Collection & delivery will be from the museum from 6 October 2011."

For my own take on the occasion, what better than a picture of the very first time I encountered Scotsman when she made a visit in steam to Norwich in 1967?

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

A view of a national museum

A perfectly brilliant rant about National Museums .

It is always good education to reflect on these matters. Without dwelling too long, the question is this: by holding onto items in stores, unsorted and unappreciated, can a museum fail firstly to present its own full story and secondly leave outside in the cold pieces which its proper purpose demanded an interest in? The blogger does not mention by name the National Transport Museum at Howth but he could have done. The collection there (see my picture) is worthy of state support but is ignored by those at the national collection.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Mallard at Shildon

We have been working hard at Facebook and you are very welcome to drop by.!/photo.php?fbid=147537175320046&set=a.146837008723396.39113.100001912940850&type=1&theater

The text there: This was the day 23rd June 2010 that Tornado brought Mallard from York to Shildon. There was a huge amount of excitement, 1000s of people and a small degree of controversy. That was about Mallard the icon leaving York. It now seems that her trip to Shildon is being foreshortened. The development for which she had to vacate the Great Hall called NRM+ has been cancelled. Sometime this summer she is heading off to Germany for a DB exhibition and then back to York. The photo of Mallard outside at Shildon thereby becomes unusual and if you remember how many people there were it was darned difficult to get. How did it happen? Without dimwhit me quite appreciating it, Hannah Bayman a BBC Look North weathergirl cleared the crowds to do her broadcast. Subsequently to my wife's hilarity I have managed to serve her coffee in our kitchen and still not realised who she was. Ooops or is it my inherent discretion?

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

"NRM+ as a cohesive project is no longer viable and will therefore be cancelled"

The url for this story is . So it is a biggy. The dream of several years which I know has intensively involved staff substantially diverting them from important everyday work is over. The Regional Growth Fund turned down a £7 million bid as part of the £21 million package. This came after several other turn downs. Meanwhile as previously blogged November 2009, we will trail behind the example of the massive redisplay of the Dutch Railway Museum in Utrecht.

There will be a certain thread of opinion heaving a sigh of relief for there are those who think that the cathedral qualities of the former running shed (albeit re-roofed) and the roundhouse nature of the displays of mechanical icons had an inherent quality which appeared under threat. However it cannot be gainsaid that over many years the NRM has appeared weak at presenting an overall narrative. That was something the Dutch went for head on and with fairground ride style interpretation. It will certainly be fascinating to see how the pieces are picked up from this position.

Is it a consequence of the NRM+ demise that Mallard's stay in Shildon in being foreshortened ? Mallard drew the crowds to Shildon when she went there but also attracted the critics that such an important engine was leaving the "centre". It really depends on how you see the NRM. As a federation of locations or as the pre-eminent location with satellites. Anyway if like me Shildon is your local make sure you have clocked Mallard whilst you can.

As I find any more coverage I shall add links:
Railway Magazine
Heritage Railway
The Press
Museums Journal
National Preservation

Thursday, 7 April 2011

The NRM and Guides

Just about when I was preparing the preceding post, the NRM's own blog was providing details on its holdings of railway guides. Primarily they were focussing on their rich strata of 19th century railway guides but the Forsythe Collection was flagged up. I have left a comment adding some detail about how to find more substantive guides as opposed to the ephemera which is the real strength of what went from Prudhoe to York. Nonetheless a sizeable number of railway guides did leave Prudhoe for York. Numbers more stayed and you can chat to me about what is available. They include for instance the Snowdon and Welsh Highland Holiday Book of 1922. If it occurs to you to wonder how the line was drawn, the logic works like this. The NRM did have a large collection of classic railway guidebooks. We were about ephemera or grey literature, stuff without an ISBN in modern jargon. There inevitably becomes an area of overlap and what we and the NRM agreed was that in general, "library" items were not in the transfer. It was not easy to maintain even that and what finally decided matters was where items were filed. If they were in collection files and shoeboxes it was easy to list and value them for the NRM. Where they were well distributed throughout our library shelves, it became impractical to do so and nor was it necessary with the NRM's existing holding in place.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Virtually Seeing Some of the Collection

This is going to be a dual purpose post. It will appear in my twin blogs Robertatforsythe and Robert Forsythe blogs the National Railway Museum. Since the snow just before Christmas, I have been working Facebook and establishing various presences. You are invited to follow Robert Forsythe, Fiona Forsythe, Robertatforsythe and Tyne Valley Line Rail Users Group (also Shepherds Dene for the Christian component).

Part of the task had been to allow a Facebook presence to serve as an introduction to the material at York. This has been accomplished by showcasing both duplicates and some solo pieces from the collection. Here is an album. A lot of what appears has either also been sold or is for sale (where we had multiple copies). There are still plenty of pieces looking for new homes so do check it out. I shall also remind folk of a very good appreciation of the collection. To close, as I was preparing this, I was reminded of some scans of a definite highlight of the collection. This was a brochure I bought from ebay quite soon before it all went to York. It is a corker and a couple of scans are here and here.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Half Term

Time flies by and half term is imminent. Previously in this blog I explained how a stick of rock had been used to incentivise me, this time it was a chocolate frog. So I am delighted to endorse the visit of Hogwarts Castle to the NRM York between 19th and 27th February. Hogwarts Castle AKA Olton Hall is a genuine GWR express engine which has been used in the filming and in this guise has encountered railway icons like Glenfinnan Viaduct in the Highlands. A range of complementary activities will be taking place. These will ensure no child will lack entertainment if they take advantage of what is one of the Nation's free museums. I cannot say for sure but it must be quite likely that the museum shop will be able to sell you a Hogwarts Castle as well. Models from Corgi, Hornby and Bachmann have appeared over the years. It gets delightfully confusing because the actual engine is a Hall pretending to be a Castle. Hornby used the former Airfix Castle to get their Hogwarts whilst Bachmann used an actual Hall model. Meantime nearer home a group of Newcastle students have asked me to lead a tour of their own past Shildon and up Weardale on March 19th. With any luck this will enable me to see the Turkish Stanier 8F recently repatriated and currently in residence at Locomotion Shildon.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Histories of Travel and Tourism Network

Yesterday I was at Manchester University speaking about the Forsythe Collection in the NRM Search Engine archive to Histories of Travel and Tourism Network. I must congratulate Rebecca Conway and her colleagues. This was a most convivial and engaging conference which despite a start and finish time at Newcastle Station of 0613 and 2222 held my attention in a packed day. Especially noteworthy was the geographical spread of the delegates who had come from Scotland, Ireland, East Anglia, the USA, Germany and Poland for a one day conference. There are numerous follow ups and by posting here some of you will find a route back to me. Specifically one to Susan Major to whom I chatted about sourcing mid Victorian railway handbills. Michael Freeman's Railways and the Victorian Imagination, Yale University Press 1999 draws extensively on Bodleian Library's John Johnson collection at Oxford University. His book is very well referenced and relates to several of yesterday's subjects. On these counts it is an excellent tool with which to take research forward. For Elizabeth Koprowski looking at Scottish pilgrimage some fascinating nuances comes in following these two links to the cultural influence of the great Yew Tree at Ormiston in Lothian. and . Googling will also get the Battlefield Band's song lyrics and other references to the tree.