Transport back in time

20 March 2014

Histories of 1052 British motor manufacturers – with over 500 photographs – in business between 1894 and 1960, including those that never made it past the prototype stage’…. That interested me this morning whilst considering the topic for this blog post. So, I went to as instructed by the wonderful Internet Sites for Local Historians directory I have been waxing lyrical about for weeks. However, I was slightly surprised to find that the link actually took me to a physiotherapy site about slipped discs and back pain! And unfortunately, so far, I have not been able to locate the British Motor Manufacturers site under a new ISP.

So, instead of the motor car, today’s transport of choice is the train. The Railways Archive is a free online archive of documents charting the development of Britain’s railway including Acts of Parliament, accident reports, publicity material and much more.

For example, a report on the head on collision between a passenger train and a goods train at Wimborne Junction in 1866 – the nearest town to the village I grew up in. A PDF of the accident report is available to view with an extract briefly detailing the events of the day:

“This collision occurred within about three quarters of mile of Wimborne Station on the Dorchester branch of the London and South Western Railway, and half a mile from the Wimborne Junction. It happened on the afternoon following the night on which there was a very heavy fall of snow, accompanied by a severe storm, the effect of which, on the Somerset and Dorset Railway as on many other lines in the south of England, was to blow down the posts supporting the telegraph wires, and to interrupt entirely the telegraphic communication along parts of the line.”

The site contains two main archives – documents and accidents. The two archives are linked, so that you can search for an accident and then see related documents, or the other way around. Each archive listing has a set of filters to allow you to look at a year, group of years, railway company, author and more. Just with a brief search this morning, reports dated as recently as 2010 have been located on the site. Definitely, unmissable….

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