You would think that British Railways’ scientific and chemical analysis departments would be concerned solely with the technical side of railway operations. However, while myself and another volunteer were surveying and repackaging this collection in the stores we were surprised to come across documents detailing the extraordinary lengths that British Railways went to test and analyse the ice cream that was served in their hotels.
These papers document the whole process of collecting and analysing samples. A lab assistant was given this slip from his superior so that hotel knew he was collecting samples for analysis, and wasn’t just trying to blag a free ice cream!
The weather and culinary tradition seems to have hindered the quest for ice cream excellence:
Once the sample had been taken, it was sent back to the lab for analysis, undergoing rigorous testing:
Ice cream was a serious business, not only did British Railways want to ensure a quality product, but they also had to adhere to legislation:
Although the stereotypical image of British Railways’ catering in its later years was the soggy sandwich, these papers show that in earlier times British Railways paid close care and attention to the quality of something as trivial as ice cream.