BRC Website Home
Quainton Virtual Stockbook
Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 39 - Autumn / Winter 1980
Museum Musings - by A Relic
(It was her choice of nom de plume! Ed.)
One swallow doesn't make a summer and eight hours stewarding in the Museum doesn't make me an expert, but it certainly was a bit of an insight into what the public like to see. Hence my musings.
The first thing so many visitors notice as they come into the room is the Hornby '0' gauge engine, coaches and wagons. The 'ahs' of appreciation as Dads remember their first train sets are lovely! Listening to the comments as the visitors go round, one finds that they love the old equipment, anything that is local, photos old and new - but particularly of accidents. The photograph of the loco hanging down from a bridge at Kings Langley in 1922 seems to be a crowd puller. Everyone notices it and the main comment is "How on earth did it happen". (I must admit I would love to know what signal was misread to have caused that accident.) Two friends had a heated discussion as to which bridge it is. "It's the bridge near the Station" said one. "No the road is wrong, it's the one near our house" said the other. The discussion went on for at least five minutes.
The 'pulse' clock from Birkenhead Station is another crowd puler, with its morse tapper to operate it. "Go on press that key", the parents instruct their small children, "and watch the hands move". Here at last is something they can touch, so the children have a really good go! The unaccompanied adults have a slightly sheepish look as they play with the morse key. More of that sort of exhibit is needed - everyone is a compulsive button pusher, handle turner and lever puller.
The signalling equipment always attracts attention and I had great fun with the Block Bell, explaining to children (and many parents too) the reason for the bells and doing a code or two. Husbands and fathers seldom hesitate to answer questions from wives and children, but the answers can be very wide of the mark! It is nice to hear the comments of railway men and very useful to pick their brains. One object that Alan has is a wheel gauge from Ruislip Signal Box. It appears that all Metropolitan Boxes had to have one. Why? I cannot find anyone who can give me the answer. Do you know?
Alan Vessey, our Curator, has amassed a fascinating collection and has set up a very good museum. Obviously this is a side we should expand - though, of course, space is always a problem. One could display the relics in rotation, but where does one house those not on display? Alan's house must bulge at the seams as it is. Several visitors commented to me as they left that we had a valuable and very interesting collection, but the remark of the weekend was made by a thin sharp-faced gentleman of about 60 who came in with an air of "know it all - seen it all before". "Cor crikey", he said to his party of friends," 'Master Cutler'- what's that doing here?" "Didn't it come this way then?" enquired one of his friends. "Wot - out here. Nah - Sheffield to London - wasn't it."
Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
Page Updated: 17 November 2017