The National Railway Museum

60 small archive collections

Thanks to the Business Archives Councils award, the National Railway Museum (NRM) has now catalogued key business records in its collection. These are made up of 19th and early 20th century records that cover the first phases of British railway business and engineering, including many from the railway mania period, when hundreds of new companies sprang up in Britain. 

60 items have been catalogued. The project has meant that the NRM has been able properly to describe some of its key archive holdings to International Standards (according to International Standard Archival Description (ISAD(G)) for the first time.

The project created access points to collections by grouping items of common provenance together. This means that users can now access all of the NRMs Robert and George Stephenson letters through one entry point, which was not easily possible before the project took place. Users also now have access to important contextual information about how items came to the NRM, along with key information about the creators of records.

During the course of the project the writer of two anonymous diaries was identified. Peter John Margary (1820-1896), Railway Engineer worked with Isambard Kingdom Brunel on the atmospheric railway line in South Devon. The diaries describe meetings with Brunel, give accounts of journeys and potentially offer new insights into the atmospheric railway system and why it failed.

Catalogues are available to the public thorough the hard and electronic copies available in Search Engine, the NRMs library and archive centre; copies have been sent to the National Register of Archives; lists and items were recently publicised through a Institute of Railway Studies and Transport History (York University) seminar; the project has also been publicised through the NRM Blog page

Alison Kay

Project Archivist