Object in Focus
Our object in focus for April 2021 is a plate commemorating the North Eastern Railway (NER) Servants’ Pension Society.
Railway companies were one of the first industries to introduce pension schemes. Nationally, the 1908 Old Age Pensions Act established a pension scheme for the over 70s but recipients had to be of ‘good character’. It wouldn’t be until 1948 when a universal state pension would be introduced.
The first scheme the NER introduced was the Superannuation Fund in 1881/82 and it was only open to salaried staff. The NER Servants’ Pension Society was established in 1907 and was open to employees in wages grades.
The 1905 North Eastern Railway Act set out provisions for the scheme including, the power to deduct contributions from wages and details of any contributions to be made by the Company. Employees could join voluntarily and membership was never made compulsory.
The Pension Society was closed to new members in 1977 and was later dissolved.
At Head of Steam, we have a large collection of NER Pension Society records. They are incredibly useful for family historians researching family who worked on the railways. The information they contain includes, date of birth, jobs held, years of service and any addresses. The records are available on our website: https://www.head-of-steam.co.uk/our-collections/catalogues/
Our object in focus for March 2021 celebrates International Women’s Day.
During the First World War, a small number of women associated with the railways served abroad as nurses and with the YMCA. One of these women was Betty Stevenson. Her father was A.E. Stevenson, an Estate Agent for the North Eastern Railway Company.
Betty was 19 when she travelled to France to work at a YMCA canteen near Paris with her aunt in February 1916. She returned to France to undertake work as a driver after taking leave at home in Harrogate. Her main responsibilities were to transport staff and stores to YMCA huts and hostels in the area. She also took relatives of seriously wounded men to visit them in hospital and relatives of deceased men to funerals.
Betty returned to working in a YMCA canteen for health reasons, this time near to Etaples in 1918. Betty was on her way back to safety after helping refugees at an Etaples station when, caught in an air raid, she was killed instantly by a bomb. She was 21 years old. Betty was buried at Etaples with the full military honours of an officer.
Our Object in Focus for February 2021 is a ticket from Bishop Auckland to Darlington (Bank Top).
Thomas Edmondson was responsible for transforming the railway ticketing system. Born in 1792, Edmonson began his working life as a furniture maker and established a business in Carlisle. The business failed and in 1836, at the age of 44 he was employed as a station master on the newly formed Newcastle and Carlisle Railway.
In the early days of the railway, tickets were handwritten by booking clerks and the system was open to fraud. Edmondson decided he could create a better system and set to work inventing new ticketing methods. He created new printing blocks, date presses and most significantly, he implemented the numbering of tickets. This meant that booking clerks could see how many tickets had been sold and therefore, how much money should have been taken at the end of each day.
The system was adopted nationally during the 1840s. Edmondson patented his designs and set up his own printing company in 1841. He died in 1851 and the company continued running until 1960. Edmondson tickets can still be seen on some heritage railways today.
Our object in focus for January 2021 is a signal cabin made by Hornby.
The tin plate signal cabin was one of two versions of the building released. The other, more expensive version had external steps and windows that were stamped out instead of printed.
Founded by Frank Hornby, Meccano Limited was established in 1907 and production continued throughout the First World War and toy trains were introduced in 1920.
The first had a clockwork motor held together by Meccano nuts and bolts and ‘O’ gauge in size. By 1925 the range was successful enough for an electric train to be produced.
The Hornby series model railway system was released in the 1920s and continued to expand throughout the rest of the decade and into the 1930s. Additional accessories including stations, trees, passengers, luggage and farmyard animals were made available, meaning customers could keep expanding their layouts.
The famous Hornby Dublo range was launched in 1938 and the company suspended production during the Second World War and when production restarted, the clockwork trains were no longer part of the range.
The company merged with others after the war and went through several name changes until 1972 when it was rebranded as Hornby Railways.
Our object in focus for November 2020 is ‘Notes and Illustrations of Recent Works’ from Robert Stephenson & Company Limited. No.3 January 1922.
Robert Stephenson & Company opened their original locomotive works in Newcastle in 1823. With the rapid expansion of the railways throughout the 19th century, they looked to Darlington to create a new, modern works to replace their older facilities in Newcastle. Land was bought in the Springfield area of Darlington and the works were completed in 1902 and employed 1,000 people at its peak. The first completed locomotive left the shop in November of the same year.
The Institution of Mechanical Engineers toured various works throughout the country and in 1925 published an article about Robert Stephenson and Company. The works is described as being ‘modern and equipped for dealing with main-line … chiefly of the heavier types’. The boiler shop, machine shop, paint shop as well as the forge and smithy are all described in detail in the article.
Robert Stephenson and Company made many locomotives for overseas railways as railway companies in the United Kingdom tended to build their own locomotives. The brochure shows different classes of locomotive and their destinations.
In 1960 the works became the Darlington works of the English Electric Company and ceased building locomotives in 1964.
Our object in focus for October 2020 is a plate commemorating the Clarence Railway.
The plate was made by Spode, Stoke-on-Trent for the 150th Anniversary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1975.
The Clarence Railway Act was passed by Parliament in May 1828 after years of planning and campaigning. The line directly challenged the monopoly held by the Stockton & Darlington Railway (S&DR).
Before the plans for the S&DR were finalized, there were two campaigns; one for a railway and one for a canal. Those who wanted a canal eventually backed a railway of their own in 1823, from Weardale to the River Tees.
The original line proposed, the Tees and Weardale Railway failed to gain parliamentary permission twice before supporters changed their plans once more. The 1828 Clarence Railway Act also included the powers for three branch lines . The first part of the line opened in 1833 between Simpasture and Stockton.
The railway never reached Weardale meaning traffic had to pass over the S&DR line for the first part of the journey. The S&DR imposed surcharges on Clarence Railway traffic making it a more expensive route despite being five miles shorter than the S&DR.
The line struggled financially throughout its history and was almost sold in 1842 when it failed to pay debts of over £145,000. In 1852 the Stockton and Hartlepool Railway amalgamated with the Hartlepool West Harbour and Dock Co. and were authorized to purchase the Clarence Railway. The amalgamated company was incorporated in the North Eastern Railway Company in 1865.
Our object in focus for September 2020 is a brochure for the North Eastern Railway Cottage Homes and Benefit Fund.
After the First World War, the North Eastern Railway (NER) began an innovative programme of house building. The North Eastern Railway Cottage Homes and Benefit Fund was established in 1919 and inaugurated in 1921. During the First World War, the NER had operated a War Relief Fund that helped the families of those enlisted. Employees could contribute through a deduction in their salary. The Cottage Homes Fund was to be operated in a similar way and contributors were asked to transfer their donations to the new fund. By July 1920 there were 12,500 members who contributed a total of £200 a week.
Building began quickly when Lady Granger offered £10,000 to the fund in memory of her brother, Tempest Anderson. The first six homes were to be a memorial to Tempest, who had been a medical officer to the North Eastern Railway. The first homes were designed by NER architect Arthur Pollard and were opened in Gosforth, Newcastle in May 1921 by Lord Joicey. All homes included three bedrooms, a bathroom and a garden. In 1933 a standard design for bungalows was established and built for £324.
The fund registered as a Housing Association in 1976 and began to accept applications from non-railway tenants. The NER Cottage Homes and Benefit Fund officially changed its name to the Railway Housing Association and Benefit Fund in July 1982.
The Railway Housing Association celebrated its 100th Anniversary throughout 2019. The organisation now owns over 1,500 rented homes across the UK, mainly concentrated in the areas of Darlington, Durham, York, Doncaster, Hull and East Riding.
Our object in focus for August 2020 is the Henry Tennant Shield for the North Eastern Railway Temperance Union Choir Competition.
Henry Tennant became general manager for the North Eastern Railway (NER) in 1870. In 1884 he chaired an interim locomotive committee which approved the design of the class 1463 (Tennant) locomotives. An example is on display in the museum, on loan from the National Railway Museum. He retired in 1891 and in the same year he was elected a director of the NER.
In 1882 the Church of England Temperance Union Society made the decision to allow the railways to manage their own organisation and the Railway Temperance Union was created. The Union was organized in divisions and Darlington, Newcastle, Gateshead and Middlesbrough were just a few of the branches included in the Northern Division. The NER fully supported the organization by providing travel passes to conferences and allowing employees to attend without sacrificing pay.
Gateshead were one of the biggest and most active of the branches in the NER Temperance Union. Their branch choir regularly won the Henry Tennant shield competition and were often booked for private concerts. In 1921 alone, they won 12 first place prizes and raised £46 4s in prize money.
After the amalgamation of the railways in 1923, the branches became the NER section of the London and North Eastern Railway Temperance Union and the Henry Tennant shield competition continued.
March 2020 is a London and North Eastern Railway Staff Magazine from 1947.
The North Eastern Railway began publishing monthly staff magazines in 1911. They contained information about developments on the railways, articles on railways abroad and engineering information. The magazines are also invaluable to family historians as they contain a wealth of information relating to railway employees.
Every month, staff changes are listed noting who had received new jobs and where they were moving to and from. Presentations are featured, highlighting those leaving employment to retire or get married. Results of railway sports competitions and tournaments are reported and often feature a team photograph of the winners.
After the amalgamation of the railway companies in 1923, the London and North Eastern Railway continued publishing the monthly magazines and covered a much larger area. Staff changes, retirements and obituaries were still featured but employees were normally listed with only basic information given.
The magazines are one part of the archive collection that may be useful to family historians with railway ancestors. The Ken Hoole Study Centre also contains pension records, sickness and assurance records, staff registers and register of enginemen and firemen. They are all available to view through the Ken Hoole Study Centre.
February 2020 is a London and North Eastern Railway plate from the Keswick English Design Series. The series was produced by Alfred Meakin.
By 1900 dining in restaurant cars was an established habit for all classes on most of Britain’s main lines. By the 1950s a range of catering was provided on Britain’s railways, from an eight-course dinner to take away lunches.
The first restaurant car was built by the Pullman Company for the Great Northern Railway and debuted in 1879. The first restaurant car and subsequent ones featured open plan seating instead of compartments, exotic wood panelling and the finest furniture. The company were pioneers of passenger comfort developing electric lighting and steam heating. Passengers paid a supplement to journey on a Pullman car. Passengers could expect up to eight courses of the latest trends in food. Early restaurant cars received favourable reviews for their menus and wine lists.
The First World War saw a change in attitude for some and a less formal style of dining became more popular. Buffet cars were trialled in 1932 by the LNER. Initially trialled in 1899 they received bad reviews and were withdrawn. In the 1930s however, they proved popular and by 1937 the LNER had 25 buffet cars in service. The cars could accommodate up to 24 people and featured a kitchen with a grill. The Second World War led to an even more significant change in attitude where passengers no longer cared for eight course meals, preferring a quick lunch. With rationing, shortages of key ingredients and the Pullman Company being absorbed into British Railways in the 1960s, the restaurant car was steadily in decline.
Although always popular, restaurant, buffet and cafeteria cars didn’t generally make a profit. Railway companies kept them in service as they were important passenger amenities.
January 2020 is an accident report from North Road Works ‘Shell Shop’ for A. Wilson.
The report details the accident itself and compensation that was awarded to A. Wilson. A. Wilson was a cartridge case machinist at North Road Works during the First World War. On 26th June 1917, she caught her finger between cartridge case and a roller. She was treated at Darlington Hospital for a laceration on her left hand.
Although built by the British Government, the Shell Shop (Darlington National Projectile Factory) was managed by the North Eastern Railway Company (NER). 150 men and 1000 women were employed at any one time. The Shell Shop opened in 1915. By 1918, over a million shells were produced.
There were many dangers in the Shell Shop, though not as many as some factories. The female munitions workers at the Shell Shop did not work with explosives so were free from the risks of TNT poisoning. However, accidents were not uncommon and compensation was available.
December 2019 is a handbill from the 1930s advertising a half day excursion to Sunderland.
The handbill advertises an excursion to Sunderland for Christmas shopping at Binns for as little as 2s 6d, equivalent to £6 today. Passengers could depart from stations throughout the Tees Valley and visit Sunderland for the day.
Railway excursions date to as early as 1840 when professional and social organisations in the region organised trips for members to places of interest. Before the railways, such trips would have been limited to destinations within walking distance. The railways allowed working people to take part in leisure activities and visit a wider range of places by providing affordable transport.
Railway excursions started as one off, last minute occurrences but soon became regular offer at certain times of the year. They were advertised using handbills, notices and in paid advertisements in regional guide books.
The most popular excursions were to seaside resorts in the summer months. Destinations such as Saltburn and Redcar were popular with day visitors. During the rest of the year, large sporting events, exhibitions and Christmas shopping trips were also popular.
November 2019 is a British Railways First Aid Kit.
First Aid Kits were developed commercially by Johnson and Johnson for use on the American Railroad. On both sides of the Atlantic, accidents resulting in injury and death were common on the railways. There was demand for a quick treatment that could be administered by anyone and the First Aid Kit was developed with advice from Railway Surgeons.
First aid had played a key role in the North Eastern Railway Company (NER) since 1894 when General Manager Sir George Gibb set about organising a system wide ambulance instruction with the help of Surgeon Major G.A. Hutton. By 1911, 6,000 employees had St. Johns Ambulance Association certificates in First Aid. The classes were hugely popular, and this common knowledge saved countless lives.
The NER was divided into six districts, Darlington, Hull, Leeds, Middlesbrough, Newcastle and York. Each district competed for their own ambulance shield and the winners from each went on to compete for the Lloyd Wharton shield. Regional winners then represented the NER and competed for the National Railway Shield.
October 2019 is a business card belonging to Timothy Hackworth.
Timothy Hackworth was a locomotive engineer who played a vital role in the development of the Stockton & Darlington Railway. Born in Wylam in December 1786, Hackworth completed his apprenticeship at Wylam Colliery where he became foreman of the smiths in 1807. At Wylam he was involved in the development of experimental steam locomotives.
In 1825 he was appointed locomotive superintendent of the Stockton & Darlington Railway. His salary was £150 per year and the company provided him with house and paid for rent and fire. In 1826 he moved to Shildon where the S&DR committee built him a workshop and a home. It was here that he built the Royal George in 1827, a locomotive that proved steam locomotion could be economically viable, halving the cost of transportation of coal by horses.
Hackworth entered the locomotive Sans Pareil into the Rainhill Trials and competed with Robert Stephenson’s Rocket in 1829. Despite being over the weight limit of 4.5 tons, the locomotive was allowed to compete but unfortunately one of the cylinders burst and Rocket won the competition.
Hackworth built the first locomotive to run in Russia as well as locomotives for the South Hetton Coal Company and the Albion Coal Mining Company in Nova Scotia.
In May 1840 he retired from the Stockton & Darlington Railway to focus solely on his independent engineering business. Hackworth died in July 1850 and was buried in Shildon Parish Church.
The business card has recently been donated to the museum and will be on display at the museum throughout October 2019.
September 2019 is two replica headstones belonging to the Backhouse family.
Eliza Jane Backhouse who is commemorated by these stones was born in March 1847 and died later that year in Pisa, Italy. Her parents were John Church Backhouse and Anna Gurney and their marriage marked the union of two famous banking families. They had two children, Eliza and John Henry.
John Church Backhouse was the nephew of Jonathan Backhouse, the man responsible for financing the Stockton & Darlington Railway. Jonathan Backhouse played a central role in establishing the railway and helped to win over public opinion towards the pioneering venture. His influence also secured the £124,000 needed to finance the railway equivalent to over £7 million today. John Church Backhouse was fourteen when the Stockton & Darlington Railway opened in 1825 and wrote a letter to his sister about the celebrations he witnessed.
Opposition to the construction of the railway led to the almost collapse of the famous Backhouse Bank. In 1819 Lord Darlington, who was opposed to the building of the railway, tried to break the bank by collecting more bank notes than the bank could pay out if presented all at once. The reputation of the bank would have been ruined if the plan was successful. The Backhouse’s became aware of the plan and raced to London to collect extra gold.
The replica headstones were found by staff at Barclays bank. The bank is situated in the same location where the 1815 Backhouse Bank once stood. The building was replaced in 1866 and remains the same today.
The objects are kindly being loaned to museum by Barclays Bank and will be on display throughout September 2019.
August 2019 is a London and North Eastern Railway sundae dish.
Before the advent of the restaurant car, there was no on-board catering available on trains. Refreshment stops were scheduled on longer journeys and from 1863, luncheon baskets were available for passengers to purchase at stations. Refreshment rooms quickly gained a bad reputation for quality of food and speed of service. Tales of underhand tactics prevailed, such as soup and coffee being served too hot to eat and being returned to the pot to serve to the next customer. The Railway Traveller’s Handy Book of Hints published in 1862 advised passengers to save themselves the trouble and take food with them for their journey.
The first restaurant car was built by the Pullman Company for the Great Northern Railway and debuted in 1879. The first restaurant car and subsequent ones featured open plan seating instead of compartments, exotic wood panelling and the finest furniture. Passengers paid a supplement to journey on a Pullman car.
Buffet cars were trialled in 1932 by the LNER. Initially trialled in 1899 they received bad reviews and were withdrawn. In the 1930s however, they proved popular and by 1937 the LNER had 25 buffet cars in service.
July 2019 is a North Eastern Railway Police truncheon.
With the rise of the railways came new opportunities for crime. As a result, the need to protect passengers and railway staff became increasingly important. To deal with this, railway police forces came into being. In addition to their roles on trains, the policemen and women also patrolled stations, docks, ports and harbours and made efforts to deter vandals. 1917 saw the first female police officers on the North Eastern Railway, though other companies had employed women earlier. A number of the women employed by the NER stayed on after the war, carrying out duties such as searching female suspects and female bathrooms, which their male counterparts were unable to perform.
References to the Stockton and Darlington Railway indicate the presence of officers in 1826 and it is likely that many of those who worked in law enforcement on the Stockton and Darlington Railway later took up similar roles with the North Eastern Railway, which formed in 1854. In 1923 the London and North East Railway Police Force was formed and remained in existence until 1949 when it amalgamated with a number of other police forces to form the British Transport Commission Police. In 1963, the British Transport Police Commission was rebranded as the British Transport Police.
The truncheon, which bears a gold crown emblem, signified the authority of the officer. Beneath the gold crown emblem is a golden wreath which contains the letters A T C, possibly the initials of the officer to whom this truncheon belonged.
June 2019 is a stoneware flagon.
Although known as strict tea-total Quakers, the Pease family owned most of the taverns, breweries and spirit shops in Darlington. This stoneware flagon would have contained beer or spirits and belonged to Thomas Pease and Son, wine and spirit merchants in the town centre. Thomas was cousin to Edward ‘father of the railways’ Pease and made the switch from chemist to wine merchant in 1808.
After Thomas died in 1845 his son Edward Thomas inherited the business. In 1875 he imported the largest barrel of brandy ever seen into this country. The 1,000 gallon barrel was so heavy it broke the crane that tried to lift of from the ship at Stockton quayside.
The railway refused to transport it to Darlington unless some of it was decanted in case it broke their wagons. When the barrel finally made it to Darlington it was stored (after taking it down and reassembling it to fit through the doors) along with the business’s other goods in the basement of the covered market. It was removed in the Second World War as they needed the space for an air raid shelter, however work on the building in the 1970’s unearthed hundreds of full wine bottles from T. Pease and Son.
May 2019 is ‘Making Model Railways’ from the Model-Making Series and has been chosen by collections volunteer, Eleanor.
Published by Ward, Lock and Company in 1957, the book gives detail on how to construct a model railway. The subjects covered include, making parts, how to construct the layout and wiring models.
The origins of model railways is said to date from around the time of the first railways. The first mass production of railway toys came in the 19th century with toys manufactured in Germany. A German company called Marklin launched the first railway set in 1891.
Model railways as a hobby is said to have started in Britain during the Edwardian period (1901-1910). Model railway manufacturing had a ‘boom’ period during the 1920s and 1930s when companies such as Hornby were established. The models were powered by clockwork and electric models were slowly being developed and introduced. Production ceased during the Second World War and when it resumed, only electric models were made.
Another major ‘boom’ period for the industry came in the 1950s and the models and sets were being marketed to both children and adults. The importance of other transport such as cars and planes was quickly on the rise and the market for model railway sets slowly declined.
April 2019 is a collection of photographs, chosen and written by collections volunteer Eleanor.
These photos show Darlington as it was in the Victorian period when it was a bustling market, industrial town and a popular destination to visit by people who lived in neighbouring towns.
They show parts of the town centre and the surrounding area, including Blackwellgate, The Majestic Inn and Coniscliffe Road.
The 1890 photo of Blackwellgate shows a view looking towards modern-day Boyes and down towards the town square on the left. The 1900 photo, is looking in the opposite direction, down towards Coniscliffe Road.
In the photos we can see a snapshot in time of people going about their daily business as well as how Darlington was over 100 years ago and how it has changed since then.
March 2019 is a poster advertising 16-25 railcards.
The poster has been chosen by our collections volunteer Eleanor. Chosen for its garish colours, the poster was issued in 1995 to promote the 16-25 railcard that can still be purchased today to save money on rail fares. Many of the posters in our collection were first on display at Bank Top, Darlington Station and were given to the museum by station staff.
Our poster collection has been catalogued and photographed by Eleanor, placement student Jessica and museum volunteer Sophie. Between the three of them, over 450 posters have been photographed and moved to new storage funded by Museum Development North East. The posters are now more easily accessible and staff and volunteers will be able to use them for display and research purposes.
The poster is accessible to the public via the Ken Hoole Study Centre.
February 2019 is a book chronicling the first railway jubilee in 1875.
The World’s First Railway Jubilee was written by S.T. Richardson and was published in 1876. The humorous illustrations depict modes of transportation before the railways, the dangers of being a railway pioneer and dancing at the jubilee ball.
It was decided to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in early 1875 by the directors of the North Eastern Railway Company. A committee was formed to organise proceedings and members included James Kitson, Alfred Kitching and George Leeman.
The celebrations included the unveiling of a statue of Joseph Pease, a banquet and an exhibition of locomotives at North Road Works. The banquet had representatives of 97 different railways, both British and overseas and ended with a fireworks display.
There were tours of North Road Works and Locomotion No.1 was moved from its location at North Road Station to the works especially for the exhibition. Darlington based railway employees were given half a day off with pay to attend the exhibition. They were also given free travel to the exhibition and a free lunch.
The book is accessible to the public via the Ken Hoole Study Centre.
January 2019 is a piece of crested china recently donated to the museum.
The model cannon was made by W.H Goss, one of the leading manufacturers of crested china. Crested china was manufactured as a souvenir item and was popular from around 1890 to 1930. Local crests and heraldry were included for each location. Railways are linked to their success as they enabled more of the population to take cheaper holidays, increasing demand for souvenir ware.
William Henry Goss was one the pioneers of crested china and saw the potential in souvenirs with local crests and models of ancient monuments. Within a few years other china manufacturers were also making crested china. Sales of crested china peaked in the early 20th century. The end of the First World War saw demand fade and most manufacturers stopped producing souvenir ware by the 1930s.
The museum has a large collection of Darlington Crested China which we regularly use in exhibitions.