Full steam ahead for Devon’s Railway Studies Collection

Newton Abbot Station 1951, COPYRIGHT (c) by R J BuckleyNewton Abbot Station 1951, COPYRIGHT (c) by R J Buckley

Posted on: 12 October 2015

Rail enthusiasts now have better access to one of the largest collections of railway resources in the country thanks to Devon County Council’s Library Service and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Devon Libraries received a £50,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to improve access to their Railway Studies Collection which is housed at the Passmore Edwards Centre in Newton Abbot.

An essential resource for anyone interested in Britain’s railways, it boasts over 25,000 books, pamphlets, maps, periodicals and timetables and almost 60,000 images.

New signage designed by local young people and learning resources and games for children to play are encouraging new generations to explore the collection.

A new website has also been launched to provide visitors to the collection with all the information they need. The website displays thousands of images from the collection and is fully searchable. Visitor to the website can get in touch with those who manage the collection to tell them more about the images they hold and contribute their own images too.

The collection was started in 1991 by David St. John Thomas of David and Charles the publishers. A keen railway enthusiast, he had a vision to set up a railway related collection for researchers in Newton Abbot. The town owes much to the introduction of the railways and still has a main line station, which was the site of a large locomotive shed, engine repair shed and carriage/wagon works. At its height the majority of people in the town were employed on railway business.

The collection is growing all the time, with thanks to generous bequests. The latest of these will be arriving in the Collection soon from the family of David St John Thomas who died in 2014.

In 1992 a Friends group was formed to support the Collection by fundraising, volunteering and giving specialist advice.

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for Devon Libraries, said: “The Railway Studies Collection is an important resource, and it is excellent news that people will now find it easier to access the interesting items it contains.

“Special thanks must go to the many volunteers have worked tirelessly on this project, generously giving thousands of hours of their time.”

The website is available here.

Posted in: Community | DCC Homepage