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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 59 - Spring 1986
Acquired Archives and Access by Alan Vessey
(QRS Curator, Small Relics Museum)
1985 was a rewarding year, when many and varied documents, often from unexpected sources, came thick and fast into our Museum Archives. These extensive additions to the Society's collection were in the form of Plans, Letters, Photographs and Documents drawn from most of the railway companies that were near to our Buckinghamshire Railway Centre geographically - and also in the story they tell about the history of our own relics at Quainton. We should remember that our valuable archives do belong to us all as members - and so here is a summary of some of the recent additions for your guidance and future reference!
1. From Beaconsfield plans and publications were donated, as a result of John Hatton's prompt initiative, as described in the winter edition of Quainton News. They covered two main areas:
a) GWR Layout and Signal Plans, also operating documents from the 1930s.
b) Nearly 400 contractors' plans by John Price & Co. and associates, from between 1890 and 1920, dealing with London's Deep Tube tunnel construction, river tunnels and even the 'Channel Tunnel'. Also Dock construction and drainage is widely covered, including the opening of the GCR dock at Immingham. Contractors plant drawings and those for Tunnelling Shields are also available for most contracts.
2. From Neasden of old we were able to purchase, through a former member and continuing supporter, Jim Stringer (who, in fact, organised the fund that was successful in purchasing L44 in 1962), a collection of letters between the LPTB, Met. & GC Joint and LNER in 1936. These cover the transfer of the locomotives, of classes G, H & K from LPTB stock at their Neasden depot, plus their crews, to the LNER Neasden shed. Also goods, rolling stock and their inspection was transferred to the LNER, after some thorny problems had been ironed-out by Doncaster from the office of CME, H.N. Gresley himself.
3. From Aylesbury and two different sources came the following:
a) Documents and Publications used by the late Mr. Len Coombs, which were passed to us by some of his colleagues at the BR station. A donation was accepted from our Society to their staff benevolent fund, in memory of Driver Len Coombs of Aylesbury MPD. The documents originated from pre-war GWR days, through the war and the LNER to BR(E) days and, finally, BR(M) - and are well preserved specimens, which will form an authentic record of driving from the Aylesbury Joint Station.
b) Railway Construction Plans came our way at low cost, after an Aylesbury book warehouse held its clearance sale, so that some 250 historic drawings were acquired. Although often tattered and torn and brittle , they have been preserved and will provide us with a general backcloth of railway civil engineering from 1847 up to 1930. About 50% are LNWR, 25% GWR and the others mainly Midland and LMS.
4. From Wendover signal cabin came the surprise of the year. The matchwood of this box now lying on our site might give the impression that the purchase of it last year was not a success story. In fact, apart from the lever frame and working parts, we sought our energetic demolition team and discovered a veritable gold mine of railway operating documents within the cavity wall and ceiling spaces. Our thanks go especially to Chris Tayler, Tim Cook and Roger & Sandy Wornham for rescuing these fragile records, many of which date from 1897 and stretch up to the 1940s. The outstanding find was the large wall notice regarding the first GCR freight trains to enter our Met Railway station of Quainton Road, in July 1898, and walled up since then in Wendover!
5. From Grendon Underwood we learned of the sudden loss of our much respected member and local historian, Bill George. His extensive documentation and vast photographic records, in the form of slides, of the construction of the GCR and GW & GC joint lines are well known to many of us. This fine collection of material, from the records of S W A Newton, is now held by our Society in memory of Bill. Nothing will replace his own presentation of this material, but we know he would wish for his work to be continued and for his strenuous researches to be made available to others in the future.
Finally, we should ask ourselves, as an educational charity: How can all these many archives which we possess, as well as maps, books and photographic records, be used and appreciated both by members and our visitors? Could it be that 1986 will see the organisation of our first annual Archives Access and Research Week? Perhaps with enough support and publicity, in the warmth of a full week in early August (eight days), then for just pence (or, for visitors, a few pounds), we could have the pleasure and fascination of losing ourselves in the nostalgic detail of some of our railway heritage, at Quainton Road Museum. Could we, on that occasion, with facilities provided, welcome visitors, members and students of railways to spend some time, for a reasonable fee, in researching amongst the fine details of engineering, craftsmanship and operation of railways that our archives now present increasingly?
Note: Your Curator and his assistant, Miriam Ashman, and Reg Uphill (Books) will be pleased to assist you.
Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
Page Updated: 20 November 2017