MORE than 350,000 people have tapped into the National Railway Museum's public archive since its launch 10 years ago.

Staff baked a cake from an original 1840s recipe book belonging to railway pioneer George Stephenson to mark the occasion.

The handwritten recipe for Cumberland cake was found in Stephenson’s Household book - one of many items added to the NRM’s collection since its Search Engine public archive launched in 2008 at a cost of £4million.

The collection includes more than 1,000 paintings, 2, 350 prints and drawings, 1.75m photographs and 11,000 railway travel posters. One civil defence record even describes plans to keep the railways running during a nuclear attack.

More than 350,000 people have used the facility, including researchers, academics and students.

Archivist Alison Kay said: “Search Engine has been tremendously successful in opening up and revealing hidden treasures from the collection. From technical drawings being used to restore famous steam locomotives, to researchers looking for accurate period details, to families searching for details of their loves ones.”

As well as the public library and research centre on a balcony overlooking the museum’s famous Great Hall, the launch included a significant upgrade to storage facilities – ensuring that collection items are suitably preserved.

Many items have also been catalogued online in a long-running project to digitise the collection.

Since 2008, dedicated volunteers have spent thousands of hours documenting and caring for the collection as well as answering public enquiries.

Search Engine is open to the public Wednesday to Saturday, and is free to access. Email requests to view archive material in advance by emailing