Monday, 22 June 2015

Barry Roseman visits the National Railway Museum

It has been quite a weekend for us. Fiona turned 50 on Sunday and if you know anything about us, you will know there would be no Forsythe Collection at the NRM without the input of the chartered librarian who is Fiona. Over the years it has been pleasing to welcome visitors of some significance to see the collection. Professor Barry Roseman is one such. On Friday I had the privilege of being with him at the National Railway Museum, it was the third time we had met. About 13 years ago, he saw our collection in Prudhoe and he spent a day in the old reading room at York. We met again with the Institute for International Information Design (IIID) in Vienna in 2008. So I was very pleased to hear a while back, Barry was making another European tour of timetables. Barry is a Professor at the Savannah College of Art and Design's Atlanta, Georgia base.

Tim Procter archivist at York made us both welcome and had a mouthwatering selection from both the main York Collections and the Forsythe Collection. I will show a few which excited us both.

First from the Forsythe Collection, Private Railways File L. Rather a good file because the word London is in it and that introduces many good lines, like the LMS. The Northern Division (Highland Scotland) programme of special trains June 2nd June 8th 1928 is a complete treasure trove if named theatrical companies, sunday schools and some very peculiar bits of passenger business are your thing. The little area I have alighted on is instance of the latter. My mother in law was the signalman's daughter born at Sloch in 1933. Here, five years before, a special call is made to deliver the wages. She remembers going to school on a Black Five but thinks those occasions missed these notices! Below are the arrangements being made for surfacemen's wives to do their shopping. What a role call of strange stops, of which Luib summit is perhaps the best known.

Staying with the obscure call theme, this tiny timetable from the main NRM collection has several attributes. It is early (1846) and clear. And it covers services from Cold Rowley (a Stanhope and Tyne location near Consett where the A68 crosses the railway and whose NER station is now at Beamish) to Crawley and Crook, two different outcomes heading south and west. The passenger services to Crawley through Parkhead/Blanchland station were not long lived. Quick gives full details.

The meat of what Barry was looking into was not just old timetables but dense timetables, where the compilers took no prisoners when it came to intelligibility. I swiftly had to find an Ian Allan Pre Grouping Atlas and Gazetteer to make sense of it all. In one LSWR passenger timetable we were able to find five separate trains in one column!

For Sunday entertainment, we took Barry to the Tanfield Railway Legends of Industry gala and a traditional British Sunday lunch in the Black Horse near Beamish. Barry's tour had already covered the National Library of Scotland collection and now continues to the National Archives at Kew and the Dutch railway museum in Utrecht.  I am looking forward to Barry's views on Oyster and Chipkaart.