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Behind the scenes at the National Railway Museum
11:59am Tuesday 27th August 2013 in News
The National Railway Museum in York has been offering a behind the scenes look at its renowned archive and library facility, Search Engine.
Tours were held over the bank holiday weekend, enabling visitors to view many fascinating items in the museum collection including eye-witness accounts from the opening of the Stockton & Darlington Railway, rare timetables, intricate engineering drawings and historic tickets.
Also on show was a manuscript notebook belonging to JU Rastrick, which recorded details of the Rainhill locomotive trials of 1829.
Rastrick was commissioned to see whether rope haulage or locomotives were the way to go with the new Liverpool and Manchester Railway.
Rope haulage was considered more economical but locomotives were thought to have potential.
To test the viability of locomotives the Rainhill Trials were devised. Rastrick was one of the three judges and his notebook offers an invaluable glimpse into the performance of the locomotives on trial. It is also how rail experts know that Stephenson’s Rocket was yellow.
Visitors to the NRM were also given the opportunity to see how the former railway offices and workshops have been converted into high-grade, controlled storage for the museum’s extensive archive of more than 300 collections and 22,000 books.
The tours were organised as part of the Collections Trust’s national Hidden Treasures initiative, which aims to celebrate collections in UK museums and archives.
The railway museum’s library, archive and image collections hold a wealth of information including 750,000 engineering drawings, 500 oral history interviews, 1.75 million photographs and 22,000 books stored within three kilometres of shelving.
In addition, the museum has a wide-ranging art collection, with more than 1,000 paintings, more than 11,000 posters and 2,350 prints and drawings.
Over the August bank holiday weekend, more than 70 museums and galleries nationwide offered an opportunity to see the collections not usually on public display, and find out how our nation’s heritage is cared for.