Tag Archives: Museum

Bridge Numberplates

London & North Western Railway Company Bridge Numberplate

Bridge Numberplates

Most railway signs were meant for the public and carried a variety of warnings such as ‘Beware of the Trains’,  ‘Shut the gate’ and ‘Do not cross beyond this point’.

A sign with a different purpose was to be found on the majority of bridges throughout the railway system.  These bridge numberplates had nothing to do with the public, being purely for the railways’ own operational purposes.

They have become very popular with enthusiasts, often being put to use as house numbers.  Almost every company used them, a major exception being the Great Western Railway.  Most plates were made of cast iron, though in the case of the South East and Chatham Railway, they were made of stamped, pressed steel.  The plates were located on the left-hand side of bridge piers – one at each end – facing the trains.Manchester South Junction & Altrincham Railway Bridgeplate.

Some of the cast-iron plates from pre-grouping days are still in place, the largest number being found along the route once worked by the London & Birmingham Railway.

Plates are often oval, though within this broad category there are plenty of variations of size and shape.  The type used by the London & North Eastern railway, for example, is less elongated than its LMS equivalent.

Among the most attractive and sought-after plates are those of the Cockermouth, Keswick & Penrith Railway (CKPR) in Cumberland.  This small company had 135 bridges in its system, with just a single plate on each bridge.  The plates, which faced Cockermouth and were numbered from that end of the line, feature an attractive lettering-face reading ‘CK & P Railway’ round their border.

Only 20 or so of the CKPR’s plates are known to have survived.  But it is not just their good looks or scarcity value that have led them to be so sought after by collectors.  They are also the only plates to feature the word ‘Railway’ in full. Their popularity has made them expensive, and even if you were able to find one,  it would cost in the region of four figures.

Some railways produced bridge numberplates showing only the numbers.  In the case of the Great Eastern, the plates were a lozenge shape and came in two sizes – the more elongated one being for siting by the roadside.West Riding & Grimsby Railway Bridgeplate No.24


Sectioned Model Steam Engine

This model was purchased by the donor from the makers in Bury, Lancs in 1979.   It was produced along with 3 other models for Bangladesh Railways, but was not sent due to there being no Letter of Credit forthcoming.  The other 3 were probably scrapped.  It is loosely based on a Royal Scot Class locomotive.

Coats of Arms

The early railway companies went to great lengths to give themselves status and authority.  This was partly to reassure investors and the travelling public alike since both were initially sceptical of railways and railway travel.  Th achieve the desired effect, companies often used heraldic devices on their coats of arms and seals, even though few were officially entitled to use them.

The company armorial device appears on small items such as badges and buttons, headed notepaper and publications through to ornate ironwork supporting platform canopies and stonework at major stations.  But to the collector one of the favoured items is a genuine railway company armorial transfer, usually attractively mounted on a wooden plaque or backing.

Transfers were introduced in the 1850s by Tearne and Sons Ltd of Birmingham, offering the emerging railway companies an easy method of branding their rolling stock.  Soon locomotives and carriages were suitably embellished with the grand coat of arms belonging to the parent company.

The railway companies took liberties when it came to the heraldic devices they chose to use.  For example the London & North Western Railway (LNER) made free use of the national symbol Britannia.

Although railway companies had consulted the College of Arms about the design of their coats of arms, it was not until 1898 that arms were officially granted.  This was awarded to the Great Central Railway, formerly the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire.

After the Great Central’s achievement only four other transport companies were awarded armorial devices – the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER), the Southern Railway (SR), the British Transport Commission and the Ulster Transport Authority.

British Railways’ full armorial bearings included a crest (beneath a ‘Forward’ scroll) of a demi-lion on its hind legs clutching a wheel between its paws, while two further lions held the shield.  The three wheels at the top  railways, a portcullis and chains stood for ports and harbours, and straight and wavy lines represented road, rail and waterways.  Below this was  a further scroll ‘Velociter securiter‘: swift and sure.

The crest, replacing an earlier ‘lion and wheel’ device (also known as ‘ferret and dartboard’) was adapted by BR for use as a transfer on carriages and locomotives.  This design  survived until the introduction of the BR twin arrows emblem.  Chrome finished BR crests used on some 1960s electrics are popular.

Museum Dedication

Chasewater Railway Museum Dedication Ceremony

This ceremony was arranged to fall on the 50th Anniversary of the date of the inaugural meeting held in Stafford, 21st November 1959.

It was arranged principally, I believe, by Adrian Hall, with assistance from Barry Bull and Steve Organ.  These gentlemen each addressed the ceremony before the plaque was unveiled by Dorothy Ives.

This room is dedicated to the memory of Dave Ives, co-founder of the
Railway Preservation Society (West Midlands District) holding membership
number two. The first Hon Secretary he became Chairman in 1969 and
President in 1974 of the RPS. The RPS was a founder of the Association of
Railway Preservation Societies (now the Heritage Railway Association) of
which Dave was a Vice-President and served a term as Chairman.

Dave convened the first meeting in the Railway Hotel, Stafford, on the
21st November 1959 and steered the Society as it started its collection
and created the first depot at Hednesford in 1960. Moving to Chasewater in
1965 the Society changed name to the Chasewater Light Railway Society in
1977, and Dave was a director and trustee of the current charity, the
Chasewater Light Railway and Museum Company from its formation in 1986 to his death in 2002.

Born at Fillongly in Warwickshire on 21st August 1920 he grew up in
Newport Shrops attending the Adams Grammar School. Moving to Stafford to
take up an apprenticeship with English Electric, he later worked for
Hammersley radios.  An early volunteer he joined the Stafford Battery then
the REME during the Second World War, with active service at home and in
the Italian campaign until 1946.
Post-war he settled into a career in technical commercial sales.

David had married Dorothy Townsend in 1943 and settling in Little Haywood
they had two sons. Dorothy typed RPS newsletters and correspondence for
many years, while David pursued interests as a campaigner for the Liberal
Party, with the Historical Model Railway Society, the Stafford Industrial
Archaeology Society, and his local Parochial Church Council. He built
garden model railway, and during retirement he also helped develop the
Amerton Railway, whilst continuing to work for the Chasewater Railway.

This plaque was unveiled by Dorothy Ives on the 21st November 2009,
marking the 50th Anniversary of the Railways Foundation.

David with his first railway at the age of about 10.

Dave (right)  and colleagues at the Hednesford  Depot 1963.

The early days at Chasewater 1971,   With Dorothy on the platform at
the original Brownhills West, demolished by the motorway, in the mid

David marches through Stafford with the British Legion.

David at Chasewater with a Planet loco and what looks like the Cannock Chase Colliery Company brake van.

I will try to add a copy of the official Brownhills West Opening Ceremony photo later.

A Memorial Plaque, engraved with the names of members who have passed away, has been commissioned and a suitable site will be found.

Finally, a number of train tickets commemorating the day are available.They are made from card and are the same size as the old-style train tickets.

Congratulations to the Museum of Cannock Chase

Our warmest congratulations to the Museum of Cannock Chase on achieving the Museum Accreditation Scheme standard.

The Museum was said to meet ‘the highest quality standards’  in a report from the Museum, Libraries and Archives Council.

To achieve this award the museum had to meet clearly-defined standards and did so after at least two years hard work.

Being awarded accreditation is an impressive achievement.  It recognises the high standards and service that a museum provides and acknowledges the hard work of the staff.

This is the aim also of the staff at the Chasewater Railway Museum, and it is plain to see that there is a lot of hard work still to be done, given that here at Chasewater we are volunteers, working perhaps one or two days per week – and we are not always here at the same time.

Flying Scotsman Excursion

The Flying Scotsman Excursion


This is one of the Museum’s prize possessions.

One of the LNER stainless steel ‘Master Cutler’ headboards.  It was donated to the Railway Preservation Society after the organisation undertook probably the first hire of the Flying Scotsman by a preservation group.

This comprised a return Sheffield Victoria – Marylebone excursion on 15th June 1963.  This venture resulted in a loss of £100 – a large sum in those days!Flying ScotsmanThis photograph shows the Flying Scotsman uncoupled from the train on arrival at Marylebone Station, London.

Chasewater Railway Museum

Chasewater Railway Museum

Museum Coach - 1

In the early days at Chasewater, the Museum Collection was housed in one of the old carriages owned by the railway, as can be seen in these photographs taken in the 1970s.

Museum Coach - 3

When it became clear that the railway had to move its Headquarters due to the redevelopment of the old station at Brownhills West, the railway’s collection of artefacts and archives was moved off-site pending the provision of suitable display facilities.

Museum Coach - 9

The Museum was to be housed in the Heritage Centre, and when the building was completed, the fitting out of display and storage facilities was carried out.  As we were starting virtually from scratch, advice was taken on the best way to catalogue, number, store and display as much of the collection as possible.  A number of Museum volunteers have attended many courses run by Staffs, Birmingham and Midland Museum Authorities to learn how to catalogue, number and mark the Museum collection correctly.   We gratefully acknowledge the help and support we have been given by these bodies – we could not have done it without them.


The display and storage rooms ready, a start was made bringing the collection back to Chasewater and the Curator’s job started in earnest.  Hopefully, with donations and loans continuing to arrive, his job will never be completed, but the collection will continue to grow and be used for educational and other purposes to keep the memories of old industrial railways and coal mining alive.


Over the next few weeks and months I shall be adding posts about our Museum Collection.

The Colonel Worksplate – Museum Addition

One of the latest acquisitions of the Museum is the worksplate from Hudswell Clarke loco 1073/1914 0-6-0ST  ‘The Colonel’.2009_09220002 Ordered by Houghton Main Colliery Co.Ltd., Yorkshire on William Harrison’s behalf, the Colonel was probably delivered new to Brownhills.

The loco was named after Colonel Harrison, Chairman of Harrison’s Grove Colliery.  He was also Chairman of Cannock & Rugeley Colliery.

After a spell at Area Central Workshops – May 1960 to June 1961, went back to Grove then to Coppice Colliery at Heath Hayes for a few months in 1963 before transfer to Granville Colliery in November 1963.

All we need now is to re-unite the worksplate with the nameplate.05406 The Colonel 0-6-0ST HC 1073-1914  at Granville 12-6-1964Pictured at Granville Colliery, 12-6-1964

Museum Exhibit No.488


Brick from F.H.Gordon, Brownhills

It may seem strange thing for a railway museum to have a collection of bricks, but bearing in mind that Chasewater Railway runs on what is left of the mineral railways of the district and they were used for moving coal and a lot of pits had their own brickworks, maybe you can see the connection!  This particular brick had us guessing, as none of us could remember a brickworks in Brownhills.

It seems that the Brownhills Brick Works was near the present Clayhanger Bridge and had wharves on the canal for loading.  Among its products was ‘our’ building brick.

The brick works were started by Francis Harry Gordon in the 1870s, the area having a 30ft measure of clay.  The buildings included three drying sheds, the largest measuring 150ft x 30ft and had a cast iron plated floor.  The neighbouring Walsall Wood Colliery Brick Works undercut the price of F.H.Gordon and the Brick Works closed in 1896.  (Which is probably why none of us can remember it!)

August Bank Holiday in the Museum

Museum Sign cropped

This Bank Holiday in the Museum started, as usual, with a quiet Saturday.  We never seem to see many visitors on Saturdays except for Galas.

Sunday started well, with a fair few visitors in the morning but it started to rain around lunch-time and that was that – it went very quiet.

On Monday the weather was cloudy but warm.  We started well in the morning and, this time, continued in the same vein all day long.  Other than Galas, the busiest day of the year.

Locos running over the weekend were Peckett No.2000, Bagnall loco ‘Linda’ and Barclay ‘Colin McAndrew’ on Sunday.


December 2008, Bagnall engine, Linda on Santa Special dutyColin McAndrew After