An Introduction to the HMRS Archives
The H.M.R.S. Archives contain a wide collection of original railway documents and other material collected together over the years. Some have been the working documents of professional railwaymen whilst others have been collected or compiled by enthusiasts as research material for specific study or modelling projects. The one thing which all the items in the Archives have in common is that they have been presented to the HMRS, or are on loan, mainly by members of the Society. Now that the HMRS has a permanent headquarters and study centre, the contents of the archive can, for the first time, be made available for HMRS members for study. Archive material may not be removed from the Study Centre but, within reason, copies of the material may be made. Much has yet to be done with sorting, listing and storing the archive material. The following notes summarise of the contents of the archive.
Original Railway Documentation
Over 1000 working timetables are listed and stored in the archive room. The collection is strongly biased towards recent years from the 1960s to 1990s. Over 600 public timetables are listed and stored, with others yet to be added to the list. Again, the collection is biased towards recent years but there are about 100 timetables from before 1950. Large numbers of small leaflets from the present train operating companies and heritage railways are still to be listed. The Archive contains about 200 documents in the "Rules & Regulations" category, ranging from full company rule books and working appendices to specific instructions on aspects of railway regulations. There are over 200 Operating Instructions such train working notices and marshalling instructions and numerous commercial instructions dealing with classification of merchandise, traffic routing and other similar matters. The Archive contains about 150 Department of Transport accident reports. As well as describing what went wrong, these are invaluable to the modeller in recording information such as train formations. The Archive contains numerous documents such as drivers' manuals for locomotives and signalling diagrams, which have yet to be sorted and listed. There is an excellent collection of vehicle diagram books from the British Railways period, together with some from earlier periods. A considerable quantity of records from the British Railways Porchester Road Archive and BREL works records are held. These have been listed but not yet sorted into easily accessible categories.
For the following items, one may download the catalogue section in PDF format:
- Admin & Staff Matters Collection: the file was last updated in October 2018.
- General Items Collection: the information was last updated in March 2013.
- Timetables Collection: the file was last updated in October 2012.
Documentation collected and compiled by enthusiasts over the years includes albums and files containing published material on specific railways and topics, research material on specific modelling projects and drafts for unpublished books.
The Archive contains about 600 model catalogues, ranging from early Bassett Lowke to recent Hornby and a range of kit and component catalogues. There are also about 100 Exhibition Guides, recording the development of the model railway hobby over the years.
Apart from being generally aware of the range of material in the Archive, little has yet been done to list this material and place it in accessible storage. This all takes time but it is now happening.
Tamara Thornhill, Corporate Archivist of Transport for London and member of A2SN, has written an article that she has kindly allowed us to include in our web site. It could be very useful to anyone working, or about to work, with archive material.