Our collections

Ken Hoole collection

Ken Hoole

The Ken Hoole Study Centre houses the reference collection left by Ken Hoole, the renowned regional railway historian. It was his strong desire that his collection would be made available in Darlington for public use. The collection is a unique resource devoted to the railways of North East England, including:

  • 246 albums of photographs covering locomotives, rolling stock, stations, workshops and signalling
  • 204 scrapbooks of newspaper and magazine cuttings
  • Official Board of Trade reports on railway accidents from 1872 to 1987
  • Passenger and working timetables from the period 1861 to 1987
  • 24 maps and over 200 plans of railway sections
  • Railway company publications, books, magazines and Acts of Parliament

Ken Hoole study centre catalogue

Who was Ken Hoole?

A short biography compiled by Colin Foster

Ken Hoole (1916-1988) was a railway historian who made his name with over forty books and numerous magazine and newspaper articles. His lifelong concern was with the railways of north-eastern England and in particular, the North Eastern Railway Company, upon which he became a recognized authority.

He was born in Doncaster, but spent most of his life on the Yorkshire coast. His railway interests were kindled during his schooldays when he travelled from the family home in Bridlington to school at Hull. The locomotives that he saw during his daily journeys by train fascinated him, and he made friends with their crews.

After leaving school Ken joined the Post Office as a telephone engineer and his knowledge led him into radio security work during World War II. On return to civilian life he developed his railway interests and eventually became a full-time author specializing in the railways of the northeast. In pursuit of this he had an extensive network of like-minded friends, both amongst railway enthusiasts and professional railway men.

His wide knowledge was gained as much from his researches in railway company archives, as from talking to people who ran the railways and had intimate knowledge of their working. In 1961 he was one of the founder members of the North Eastern Railway Association, which was formed to further interest in the railway history of the northeast.

Ken built up an extensive reference library of railway books, documents and plans, and a comprehensive collection of photographs covering all aspects of railway working from locomotives and rolling stock to stations, signalling and infrastructure.

John Mallon collection

John Mallon

The John Mallon collection is jointly owned by the museum and the North Eastern Railway Association (NERA). John Mallon amassed a large amount of information about the North Eastern Railway and railways in the North East in general during his lifetime. His extensive collections include a large photographic collection, firemen and enginemen registers and material relevant to the North Eastern Railway and railways in the North East in general.

John Mallon collection

North Eastern Railway Association (NERA) collection

The N.E.R.A. was formed in 1961 to cater for all enthusiasts interested in the history and development of railways in North East England - the area covered by the counties of Yorkshire, Durham and Northumberland.

This is mainly concerned with the North Eastern Railway and the Hull & Barnsley Railway and their incorporation in the London and North Eastern Railway and British Railways' networks, but also extends to the smaller independent and industrial railways that operated in the area.

Interests cover all aspects of operation - locomotives, rolling stock, train services, stations, signalling, shipping and road services - both for the general enthusiast and the model maker.

An extensive source of information is contained in the association's library with its collection of books, historical records and drawings. This is housed at the Ken Hoole Study Centre.

NERA collection

NERA website [external link]

Tubwell Row Collection

Wooden dog

Tubwell Row Museum was opened in 1921 with the purpose of 'illustrating the mode of life of a former generation or of another nation'.

Unfortunately in 1998, due to budget cuts, Tubwell Row Museum closed and the collection was cut down. It was decided that any art, objects, photos or documents relating to Darlington were to be kept by the council.

The remaining items were moved to museums in North East England, such as the Hancock Museum and Beamish.

The remaining collection consists of social history, archaeology, ceramics and natural history.

View some of the Tubwell Row collection on Flickr [external link]