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By Karen Baker on

Rocket, Railtrack and a history of design

Five drawings of Rocket are among the latest collections now available in Search Engine.

Our archive team are continually cataloguing our vast archive collections to make them accessible and discoverable (see our catalogue).  Below is a list of the latest collections that you can now consult in Search Engine, our library and archive centre.

Drawings of Robert Stephenson’s steam engine Rocket by John Dobson Wardale,  a collection of five drawings by John Dobson Wardale, head draughtsman for Stephenson & Co. containing two side elevations of the locomotive engine ‘Rocket’; two sectional drawings of the boiler; one side elevation in pen and ink with J.D. Wardale’s signature. These drawings were made three decades after Rocket was first constructed to possibly be exhibited alongside the original engine in the newly opened Patent Office Museum (predecessor of the Science Museum). Wardale based the drawings on the measurements taken of the original engine and memories of some of the longer-serving employees at the Stephenson & Co. The drawings were an attempt to show Rocket as it was built in 1829 although some of the later additions were included and the appearance of the firebox was different to the original design.

"The Rocket Locomotive Engine manufactured by Robert Stephenson & Co. for the Liverpool & Manchester Railway Co., 1829", coloured side elevation drawn by John Dobson Wardale, head draughtsman of R. Stephenson & Co., circa 1859.
“The Rocket Locomotive Engine manufactured by Robert Stephenson & Co. for the Liverpool & Manchester Railway Co., 1829”, coloured side elevation drawn by John Dobson Wardale, head draughtsman of R. Stephenson & Co., circa 1859.

Records of Railtrack Private Shareholders Action Group (RPSAG), the selection of documents within the collection is unique, having been assembled and ordered by RPSAG in a way that they believed demonstrated and supported their case to obtain a fair and just settlement for the 255,000 private shareholders of Railtrack who lost millions when their company was forced into administration by the government.

The court case was extremely high-profile and controversial and was a key event in the evolution of UK rail management. As well as this, the case was discussed in the light of wider issues of government and ministerial openness. The collection as a whole demonstrates how the management of railways is politically significant and how key railways are to the economy of this country and demonstrates how much attention the group generated and how important the case was to the public.

The material includes original records of RPSAG such as correspondence, minutes and financial records. It contains records that demonstrate how the group administered itself and how it sought to gain the support of shareholders. It also contains correspondence from individual shareholders expressing their often emotive views on the actions of the government, including how the situation had affected them personally. The collection demonstrates how a key event in recent railway history had a social impact on many people. Records also include those that cover the PR activities of the group and newspaper cuttings that track the development of the case.

Records of North British Locomotive Company Ltd & constituent companies, North British Locomotive Co Ltd was formed by the merger the ‘big three’ Glasgow locomotive builders (Sharp Stewart & Co, Neilson, Reid & Co and Dubs & Co) in 1903 as a result of increased competition both at home and from abroad. The collection (1835-1959) consists mainly of records concerning locomotive production, order books, description books and engineering drawings. There are also some trade cards, publications and photographs.

 

Drawing no. 452 Originally from Neilson and Co., Glasgow 1883. Part of North British Locomotive Collection
Drawing no. 452 Originally from Neilson and Co., Glasgow 1883. Part of North British Locomotive Collection

Papers of E S Cox, Earnest Stewart Cox (1900-1992), was born in Glasgow in 1900 and educated at Merchant Taylors School, Crosby. He joined the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway as a premium apprentice in the Mechanical Engineers Department at Horwich in 1917. He later went on to become a Draughtsman at Derby and Euston.

In 1934 Cox became the Assistant Works Superintendent in Derby, progressing to become the Development Assistant in the Chief Mechanical Engineers Department in 1935. By 1937 Cox had moved to Euston, taking on the role of Personal & Technical Assistant, where he stayed until 1940. He moved back to Derby and became the Chief Technical Assistant to the Chief Mechanical Engineer.

In 1941, he took on the role as Executive Officer (Design) at the Railway Executive Headquarters and later moved on to become the Mechanical Engineer (Development) for the British Transport Commission. He was promoted to Assistant Chief Mechanical Engineer in 1958. Cox finally became the Mechanical & Electrical Engineer (Design & Development) in 1960.  His papers include locomotive design of pre-1923 , London Midland & Scottish Railway and British Railways papers, printed material and diagrams and drawings.

Contact us in Search Engine if you have any questions about these collections or would like to make a visit to view.

 

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