Objects in Focus
Sir Vincent Raven’s Travel Valet Bag
Our object in focus for July 2017 is a recent donation to the museum’s collection.
Sir Vincent Raven became Chief Mechanical Engineer of the North Eastern Railway (N.E.R.) in 1910 after beginning his career as an apprentice engineer in 1876 in Gateshead. His locomotive designs combined the latest innovations and N.E.R. traditions.
Designed by Drew & Sons of Piccadilly Circus, the valet bag was presented to Sir Vincent Raven on his appointment as Chief Mechanical Engineer. The leather valet bag contains sixteen monogrammed bottles, brushes, tweezers, corkscrew and even a carriage key.
The valet bag has been donated in memory of the donor’s father Derek Vincent Mountain O.B.E. (1925-2017). It will soon be on display at Head of Steam – Darlington Railway Museum.
Yorkshire Coast Poster
The nationalisation of the Railways in 1948 saw the end of the ‘Big Four’ railway companies and a unification of working. The separate companies had very different styles and tastes in terms of railway advertising. This remained unchanged after nationalisation as each region targeted a specific audience and promoted tourist attractions in their locality. New styles were introduced including adding humour and cartoons but posters such as the Yorkshire Coast show some styles remained unchanged. Traditional landscapes remained an important part of railway advertising and invoked a sense of tradition and history.
The poster is currently on display in the museum café. The café is open every Wednesday 12pm - 2pm and on event days.
Register of Enginemen and Firemen Darlington
Head of Steam – Darlington Railway Museum has thirty five registers of enginemen and fireman in the Ken Hoole Study Centre. An invaluable source of information for family historians, they detail the working life of the men who worked on the footplate for the North Eastern Railway Company.
Basic biographical information is given such as date of birth, place of work and the date they commenced employment with the company. Information not easily found elsewhere is also noted. This includes results of eyesight tests and what they were paid.
The most interesting information however comes under the heading ‘Particulars of Fines and Reprimands : Of Rewards and Particulars’. It is in this section that we discover more about the day to day experience of a railwayman. For example Thomas Graham was born in September 1854 and began working for the company in April 1867 as a greaser. He became a fireman in 1874 and a driver in 1889. In the reprimands and rewards section we discover that he was cautioned in May 1907 for ‘slow running between Bowesfield Junction and Stillington Junction’. Ten years later in March 1917 he was given a cash bonus after discovering a wagon was on fire and ‘taking steps to have it extinguished’.
The registers are accessible to the public through the Ken Hoole Study Centre.
Willow the Elephant
Crested china or souvenir ware grew in popularity at the beginning of the 20th century as the railway network expanded and the working classes could travel more freely and had an increasing disposable income. The china was bought as souvenirs and taken home as a memento of a holiday or day trip. Local landmarks and buildings were popular as were ancient objects and figures of local heroes. During the First World War, military themes became popular with battleships, aircraft and tanks being produced. The craze of crested china ended with the Great Depression in the 1930s.
This elephant was produced by Willow China between 1907 and 1925. Willow China began as Willow Art in 1905. Souvenir ware was one of Willow Art’s leading lines and its popularity helped to establish the company. Souvenir ware was being heavily produced by 1914 and the war was kind to the company as they could manufacture cheap souvenirs usually supplied by the German china industry. Their speciality was brightly coloured buildings and in 1925 the firm was taken over by Harold Taylor Robinson and renamed Willow Potteries ltd. The Willow mark was not used after 1930.
The museum has the largest collection of Darlington crested china in the country. It includes all of the major producers such as Goss, Arcadian, Carlton and Gemma China.
North Eastern Railway Clothing Regulations 1905
The North Eastern Railway Company formed in 1854 and employed thousands of staff from Berwick to Hull. The Clothing Regulations of 1905 set out uniform supplied to all grades in the Company and the specifications of the uniform including material and colour. All uniform was supplied at the Company’s expense unless clothing was lost through ‘carelessness’. Employees had to keep the uniform in the same condition it was given in and clean on all occasions, ‘metal buttons and embroidery are to be kept bright’.
Most grades such as Station Masters, Porter Guards and ticket Collectors were given a suit, cap and overcoat. Others such as Shunters and Dock Porters were also given waterproofs and leggings.
There are some exceptions to the rules such as W. Robson who worked at Bridlington. Being a lavatory attendant he was entitled to a new suit and cap every year and a new overcoat every three years but instead he was supplied with a passenger guard’s uniform. This meant he was also entitled to an extra pair of trousers every year and a new waterproof every year.
The NER Clothing Regulations is part of the Ken Hoole Collection. You can access the collection via the Ken Hoole Study Centre. For more information please visit the Ken Hoole Study Centre page.