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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 98 - October 2007

Museum Matters - Roy Miller - Curator BRC

Last edition we discussed our Museum Management Committee (MMC) and its responsibilities; we now describe how our collection is divided and administered.

The word accession is used when an item is added to our collection. When we accession a relic we do no more than add the relic to a list, we also accept the responsibility for the future restoration and wellbeing of the relic; we must accept the receipt of the relic under the terms of our Museum registration. This includes satisfying ourselves as to its authenticity and ownership. Until an accession number is issued we do not accept an item into our collection and can legally refuse to do so if we are not satisfied over the ownership or its authenticity.

Our collection is divided into a number of different sections which we also use to categorise relics and assist with our obligations to preserve and restore.


Working relics (prefixed "W" in front of their accession number) are relics used for the operation of our Railway Centre. Although we must look after those relics to the best of our ability under the terms of our Museum registration, we must also accept that by their very use they will wear out or even be damaged. We are obliged to repair and restore Working Relics, but when we do so they may be sympathetically modified in order to meet modem health and safety requirements or the use of modern materials to improve their durability, providing these are in keeping with their historical appearance.

Working Relics are generally large things such as locomotives or rolling stock, but may also include signal equipment, track work tools, oil lamps, etc., used for the day to day operation of our Railway Centre.


Small relics (prefixed "S" in front of their accession number) are not defined by their physical size, although by the very nature of things, they usually are. They can be restored to their original condition and not modified in any way. We must do all we can to prevent further deterioration and store them in such a way that we maintain their original condition.


Documents (prefixed "D" in front of their access ion number) are historical railway documents of all descriptions and may vary from a single page or letter written by a pre-grouping railway about the non-payment of merchandise to full size engineering drawings for the original construction of a railway or rebuilding of a station. We have many ledgers from the pre-nationalisation and grouping of the railway companies, normally leather bound, relating to rates of pay for employees and transport of merchandise. Labels and tickets are also included.

Certain books within our Reference Library are also given Document status as well as listed as part of our Library.


Our Photographic Collection (prefixed "P" in front of the accession number) is, as the name implies, mainly photographs which may be of any type of print, or negative; also includes transparencies and cine film.

Also included in this category are audio tapes and videos of historical significance.


Once given an accession number a relic can only be disposed of or transferred from the collection in compliance with very strict conditions as laid down by the terms of our Museum Registration as well as the Rules of our Society. A relic also enters our collection in compLiance with our declared Collection Policy. Every item must be hand written in a bound register in special long lasting ink! (More of this next time).


Unless of special historical significance (mentioned under Documents), we do not accession books in our extensive Reference Library. Every book is listed and categorised by number.

HARDBACKS are numbered HB/xxx, SOFT BACKS SB/xxx, VIDEOS V/xxx, and WORKING TIMETABLES WT/xxx. We do not, for reasons of space, collect public timetables. Specific TECHNICAL DOCUMENTS such as maintenance and loco driving instructions are listed under T/xxx, RULE BOOKS and GENERAL APPENDICES TO THE RULES are listed under R/xxx.

Listing an item gives us a little more flexibility in caring for and disposing of a book. We can, under special circumstances, allow a member or student to borrow a book. We would not allow this if it were accessioned. The Museum Management Committee as a whole may also authorise the transfer or disposal of a library book, provided it has not been accessioned.

We will discuss the recording and associated paperwork of all this next time.


The Brill Tramway Train has been completed in the Museum building by the addition of the replica Brill Tramway's first passenger carrying vehicle and its interesting story.

The Travelling Post Office (TPO) vehicle has arrived and we await delivery of its accompanying stowage vehicle, a virtually empty coach with hooks around the walls for mail bags. These two vehicles always worked together.

Our tender for the purchase of perhaps the final open wagon for our collection has been accepted. This is a converted (by the Army) five plank open wagon, replacing the wooden sides with steel sides especially for the carriage of munitions, bombs etc. Many thousands of these were built or converted during World War II. Its purchase has been financed by one of our members, Dick Scott.

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The text in this Quainton Railway Society publication was written in 2007 and so does not reflect events in the 7+ years since publication. The text and photographs are repeated verbatim from the original publication, with only a few minor grammar changes but some clarifying notes are added if deemed necessary. The photos from the original publication are provided as scans in this internet version of this long out of print publication.

Museum Matters - Roy Miller - Curator BRC - Autumn 2007 - Quainton News No. 98 - October 2007

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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