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Transport History collection

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 3245 THC
Held at: Brunel University Library
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Full title: Transport History collection
Date(s): [1811-1990]
Level of description: Fonds
Extent: 80 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Garnett | David | 1909-1984 | electrical engineer and railway historian


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Transport History Collection consists largely of two substantial bequests relating to British railway history, namely the Clinker collection and the Garnett collection. Charles Ralph Clinker was born at Rugby in 1906 and joined the Great Western Railway from school in 1923 as a passenger train runner. By the time of the outbreak of World War Two he had risen to become liaison officer for the four major railway companies with Southern Command HQ, and as such was involved in the planning and execution of the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940 and the D-Day Landings in 1944. He left railway service in 1946 and devoted the rest of his life to research and lecturing on railway history, a taste which he had acquired when seconded to assist E. T. MacDermot in the preparation of his History of the Great Western Railway (London, 1964), and which Clinker subsequently revised for publication in 1982. Clinker wrote numerous books and pamphlets on railway history; his Clinker's Register of closed passenger stations and goods depots in England, Scotland and Wales, 1830-1977 (1963, revised 1978) is widely regarded as his magnum opus. He died in 1983.

David Garnett was born near Warrington in 1909 and as young man qualified as a chartered electrical engineer, soon afterwards completing his training at the Brush works in Loughborough. He then worked at the lift manufacturer Waygood-Otis, and during World War Two served with the National Fire Service, then at the Admiralty. In the 1950s he began to build a collection of railway and other maps which at the time of his death in 1984 was one of the finest such collections in the country.

Chris Wookey was born on 2 Aug 1957 and was a student at Brunel University, 1975-1979, obtaining an honours degree in Applied Biochemistry. He was a keen railway photographer and Chairman of the Brunel University Railway Society for two years. After leaving Brunel he taught Chemistry for almost ten years at Ryden's School in Walton-on-Thames. He died in 1989.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers relating to British railway history, especially that of the Great Western Railway (GWR) and railways in the London area, including books, maps, periodicals, timetables and several thousand photographs, c 1920s-1980s. The books represent a strong collection on British railway history from earliest times to the early 1980s. There are some substantial runs of major periodical titles. There is a large collection of early railway maps including Airey and Railway Clearing House (RCH) maps; also Ordnance Survey maps and railway junction diagrams, a substantial collection of Bradshaw guides, working and passenger timetables, with the following archival material:

Clinker Collection comprising notes and correspondence relating to the publications of Charles Ralph Clinker on railway history, particularly his Register of closed passenger stations and goods depots in England, Scotland and Wales, 1830-1977 (1963, revised 1978) and papers relating to his 1982 revision of the History of the Great Western Railway (London, 1964) by E T MacDermot; timetables, including those for the Bristol area, 1880s-1970s; General Strike, 1926; timetables during other strikes, 1920s; Great Western and Midland, various notices; Midland and South Western Junction Railway timetables, 1885-1947; operation instructions, GWR, London Midland and Scottish (LMS), London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), Southern Railway (SR); GWR working of stations, 1939-1965; LMS Railway train marshalling, 1943-1944; LMS timetables, 1890s-1940s; train arrangements during World War One and World War Two, 1914-1918, 1939-1945; papers relating to Broadgauge conversion; papers relating to Golden Valley Railway and Leominster-Kington Railway; ephemera relating to the Hay Railway, 1811-1977; Southern Railway plans for stations west of Salisbury, 1905- (mainly 1920s-1930s); Severn Bridge, General Manager's file, 1936-1943; logging of train performances, 1918-1927; books and periodicals, including rare and 19th century printed material on the early railway system, particularly guidebooks and station instructions.

Garnett Collection, mainly comprising railway maps, particularly those produced from 1869 by John Airey, an employee of the Railway Clearing House (RCH), and subsequently by the RCH itself, and also includes Ordnance Survey maps and railway maps produced by the various railway companies; catalogues and research notes by Garnett, including lists of maps prepared by Airey and the RCH, 1869-1960; Macaulay [Zachary] series for Great Britain, Ireland and London, 1851-1908; notes on tramways and railways in Port Talbot area; catalogues of station handbooks, 1851-1956, and railway junction diagrams (the Airey and RCH maps, station handbooks and junction diagrams were used to determine ownership of stations and junctions for commercial purposes).

Research notes and photographs relating to Railway structures by Stuart Kear (9 vols); typescript of Chronology of the construction of Britain's railways, 1856-1922 by Leslie James; research notes by John Palmer on 19th century railway periodicals and the Eastern Counties Railway in its formative years; research notebooks and papers of Harold Vernon Borley on the history of railways in London, used for his Chronology of London railways (Railway and Canal Historical Society, Oakham, 1982).

Locomotive and General Railway Collection, featuring several thousand photographs (photographer unknown) of British locomotives, particularly steam trains, 1920s-1970s.

Wookey Collection, comprising several thousand photographs of British railway stations and signal boxes.

Mowat Collection (of Professor Charles Loch Mowat, 1911-c1969), comprising 2500 photographs in albums of railway scenes, 1926-1969 (mostly 1942-1969, with a few before 1924). These are mostly of small and medium sized railway stations (trains are generally incidental), covering most of the United Kingdom, with particular emphasis on the GWR and Wales, with coverage of Somerset and Dorset, Midland and South Western Junction, Lincolnshire, Midland Railway in the West Country, Great Eastern, Glasgow and Edinburgh Suburban, Bristol Suburban, Ireland, and narrow gauge lines in the UK such as Ffestiniog, Penrhyn, Bishop's Castle and Ditton's Prior. He also covered south east of Manchester in 1962, including the Hayfield, Macclesfield, Buxton (London North Western and Midland) and North Staffordshire lines. The collection also includes Mowat's index to his photographs and 14 notebooks containing track diagrams and notes on the stations he photographed, c 1920-1969.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The Clinker archival material was resorted into files roughly corresponding to scope and content; Garnett Collection general maps are arranged in alphabetical order by publisher's name; Ordnance Survey maps are arranged by scale and edition. Clinker, Mowat and Wookey photographs are arranged by place name. Wookey photographs are named, dated and numbered and arranged in groups based broadly on areas or line of route. Each group has a separate number and each print in that group has its individual number. The Kear photographs are currently unsorted.

Conditions governing access:

Available to researchers, by appointment. Please email:, giving at least two working days notice.

Further details about access to our collections are available on our website.

Access to archive material is subject to preservation requirements and must also conform to the restrictions of the Data Protection Act and any other appropriate legislation.

Conditions governing reproduction:

At the discretion of the Special Collections Librarian. Some of the photographs in the Clinker collection are in the copyright of the National Railway Museum, York. Copies of other photographs can be supplied through the Brunel Library Office, who will also supply details for reproduction. Acknowledgement for reproduction must be made to `Brunel University Library'. For reproduction of Locomotive and Mowat photographs, application must be made to Mr W R Burton (details available from Special Collections Librarian).

Finding aids:

Some of the books and periodicals, and some timetables are catalogued on the Brunel University Library catalogue. This material in the collection is catalogued with the addition, where appropriate, of the item number in Ottley's Bibliography of British railway history. A box list is available for part of the Clinker archival material. Guides to the archival material in hard copy are available on application to the Special Collections Librarian, Brunel University Library. A substantial amount of the archival material remains uncatalogued, though some indexing of unsorted material has also been done by a number of researchers in railway history. Garnett Collection general maps, Ordnance Survey, Airey and RCH maps have separate catalogues in hard copy. Clinker, Mowat, Locomotive and Wookey photographic collections all have printed indexes (Wookey is only partially listed), available in hard copy at Brunel University. Catalogues of the Clinker, Wookey, Locomotive and Mowat photographs are available from Mr W. R. Burton (details available from Special Collections Librarian). The Kear photographs are at present uncatalogued.

Archival Information

Archival history:

The collection was previously housed at the Runnymede campus (now closed) of Brunel University, but is now held in Special Collections within the University Library at Uxbridge. The Mowat Collection passed into the possession of Clinker and thence to Brunel University with the remainder of the Clinker Collection.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Garnett and Clinker were good friends, and it was the latter's bequest to Brunel that led to David Garnett's decision to bequeath his collection there too in 1984. The Wookey collection of photographs was presented to Brunel University Library by Wookey's widow and parents in 1989. There have been periodic deposits of other small collections since to form the present Transport History Collection.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Originally compiled by Robert Baxter as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project in 2001. Updated by Katie Flanagan in May 2013.

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:

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