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By Alison Kay on

Tracks through the Landscape

This collection might seem somewhat dry at first glance, but it offers fascinating insights into 19th and 20th century society.

Our collection of land plans, sections has recently been made accessible through our library archive service, Search Engine. The collection showcases construction of railways in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Marylebone Station


Here are a few of our personal favourites to a give a flavour of the collection…

Manchester London Road Station

The different coloured areas on this image show the complexity of having two competing railway companies sharing a station at Manchester London Road. These arrangements lead to disputes and petty rivalries. Manchester London Road is now known as Manchester Piccadilly.

As well as showing the railways themselves they also show their bricks-and-mortar property, as the railway companies often owned housing in the surrounding area.

The records are a great resource for genealogical research as the tenants and their rents are also listed and the owners of land adjacent to the railway. The collection also includes Books of Reference listing the landowners, whose land the railway companies bought.

Names of tenents

This map of the Yorkshire Dales shows an amazing level of detail and the shading used to delineate the topography of this hilly region almost makes the map seem to be in three dimensions. The proposed line, part of the North Eastern Railway, ran from Hawes. The scale of the terrain dwarfs the proposed railway line.

Hawes topography Yorkshire Dales

The land plans depict the spread of the railways spread across the English countryside where they faced opposition from wealthy landowners opposed to the railways crossing their estates. As the Great Central Railway was extended into Marylebone station in the late nineteenth century even the hallowed turf of Lord’s Cricket ground was threatened, raising outcry amongst cricket fans.

Lords Cricket Ground

Whilst many of these land plans are objects of art, beautifully drawn and tinted, they also offer a wealth of insights to how the railways were built. They show impact they had on the people who lived adjacent to the new railways and the widespread changes that they ushered into society at large.


This blog is by NRM archive volunteers Jack Garside and Tania Parker

Please contact if you would like to come and look at these wonderful plans  – please note they are very large so we will need a few days notice prior to retrieval.

You can see a list of the plans here.

Find out more about Search Engine on our website.

5 comments on “Tracks through the Landscape

  1. You whouldnt happen to have plans of the old Bradford interchange whould you going round to lasterdyke east as I am wanting to recreate this in a train set I have been up to Bradford last August but ther isn’t to much of it left only the Leeds line remains at lasterdyke east any help would be greatly appreciated thank you

  2. Hi Shannon

    Do you have any plans of Nailsworth Station?

    It would be great if you do!

    Many thanks.


  3. I am struggling to find any information on Woofferton Junction on the line between Ludlow and Hereford. Do you hold anything in the records?

  4. Im hoping you may have detail track plans for Bakewell, Derbyshire in the 50s or know where some may be kept. I was wondering whether the local planning office for Bakewell might be helpful.
    Many thanks

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